B. J. Novak

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B. J. Novak
B.J. Novak, Actor.jpg
Novak at SF Sketch Fest 2008
BornBenjamin Joseph Manaly Novak
(1979-07-31) July 31, 1979 (age 35)
Newton, Massachusetts, U.S.
OccupationActor, comedian, screenwriter, director
Years active2001–present
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B. J. Novak
B.J. Novak, Actor.jpg
Novak at SF Sketch Fest 2008
BornBenjamin Joseph Manaly Novak
(1979-07-31) July 31, 1979 (age 35)
Newton, Massachusetts, U.S.
OccupationActor, comedian, screenwriter, director
Years active2001–present

Benjamin Joseph Manaly "B. J." Novak (born July 31, 1979) is an American actor, stand-up comedian, screenwriter, author, and director. He is known for being a writer and co-executive producer of The Office, in which he also played Ryan Howard, as well as appearing in Inglourious Basterds, Saving Mr. Banks, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

Early life[edit]

Novak was born and raised in Newton, Massachusetts, the son of Linda (née Manaly) and author William Novak.[1][2][3] Novak's family is Jewish. His father co-edited The Big Book of Jewish Humor, and has ghostwritten memoirs for Nancy Reagan, Lee Iacocca, and others; his parents also established a Jewish matchmaking service.[4][5] Novak has two younger brothers, Jesse, a composer, and Lev, a graduate of Tufts University. He attended Newton South High School with future Office costar John Krasinski,[6] and they graduated in 1997.[6] Novak graduated from Harvard University, where he was a member of the Harvard Lampoon and the Hasty Pudding Club. He majored in English and Spanish literature and wrote his honors thesis on the films of Shakespeare's Hamlet.[7] In addition to the Lampoon, he occasionally staged and performed in a variety show called The B.J. Show with fellow Harvard student B. J. Averell.[6]


Novak in June 2007

Novak graduated from Harvard University in 2001. Afterward he moved to Los Angeles, California and began working in clubs as a comedian. His first live stand-up performance took place on October 10, 2001, at the Hollywood Youth Hostel. He was named one of Variety's "Ten Comedians To Watch" in 2003.[8]

Novak was a writer for the short-lived The WB sitcom Raising Dad.[6] He has also performed on Comedy Central's Premium Blend and on Late Night with Conan O'Brien.[8]

Novak's television acting career began on MTV's Punk'd. He was the lead accomplice to Ashton Kutcher on the show's second season in 2003, and has played pranks on Hilary Duff, Rachael Leigh Cook, Usher, and Mýa.

After hearing Novak's opening joke at a comedy club, executive producer Greg Daniels immediately decided to include Novak in his upcoming project: a U.S. version of the hit British series The Office. Novak was cast as Ryan Howard, becoming the first cast member.[6] On July 21, 2010, news reports indicated Novak had signed a contract to remain with the show for its seventh and eighth seasons; under the new terms, he would be made a full executive producer midway through Season 7 and also direct two episodes of the show, as well as becoming the latest cast member to also have a deal with NBC to develop other shows. In a June 2009 interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer, Novak spoke about sharing the success of The Office with his Newton South High School classmate John Krasinski:[9]

Sometimes when this feels too good to be true, I think that if this were all a dream, that would be what should have tipped me off. I'd wake up saying, "I was in this incredible TV show and it was a big hit and the star was John Krasinski from high school. Isn't that weird?"

In addition to his television credits, Novak has appeared in the films Unaccompanied Minors, Reign Over Me, The Internship, Knocked Up and Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds.[10] He played composer Robert B. Sherman in the 2013 film Saving Mr. Banks, and Alistair Smythe in 2014's The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

On April 11, 2013, Knopf announced it had signed a seven-figure, two-book deal with Novak, with the first book slated to be a fictional collection of "Woody Allen"-like stories.[11] On February 4, 2014 a book of 22 stories titled, One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories, was published and became a major success; it spent 6 weeks on the NYT Hardcover Fiction Bestsellers List. Novak also signed a deal with Penguin's childrens' books label to write "The Book With No Pictures", which will be released in September 2014.

Personal life[edit]

Novak has a close friendship with Mindy Kaling, whom he met through writing for The Office. The two dated on and off while writing and acting on the show, sometimes mirroring the on-again, off-again nature of the relationship between their characters, Ryan Howard and Kelly Kapoor. Novak served as a consulting producer for Season 1 of Kaling's show, The Mindy Project, [12] and is currently an executive producer of the show. His brother Jesse is the music composer for The Mindy Project.


Roles as an actor
2003Punk'dField AgentTelevision series
2005–2012, 2013Office, TheThe OfficeRyan HowardTelevision series; 164 Episodes
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (2006, 2007)
Nominated: Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (2008)
Nominated: Prism Award for Best performance in a Comedy Series (2009)
2006Unaccompanied MinorsFlight Attendant
2007Reign Over MeMr. Fallon
Knocked UpUnnamed Doctor
2009Inglourious BasterdsPfc. Smithson UtivichScreen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2011Smurfs, TheThe SmurfsBaker Smurf
2012Dictator, TheThe Dictator
2013Mindy Project, TheThe Mindy ProjectJamieTelevision series
3 episodes
2013Internship, TheThe InternshipMale Interviewer
2013Saving Mr. BanksRobert B. Sherman
2014Amazing Spider-Man 2, TheThe Amazing Spider-Man 2Alistair Smythe
2014CommunityMr. EgyptEpisode: "Basic Sandwich" (cameo)
Roles as a writer
2001–2002Raising Dad2 episodes
2005–2012Office, TheThe OfficeEpisodes written:
  1. "Diversity Day" (March 29, 2005) - Season 1
  2. "Sexual Harassment" (September 27, 2005) - Season 2
  3. "The Fire" (October 11, 2005) - Season 2
  4. "Boys and Girls" (February 2, 2006) - Season 2
  5. "Initiation" (October 19, 2006) - Season 3
  6. "Safety Training" (April 12, 2007) - Season 3
  7. "Local Ad" (October 25, 2007) - Season 4
  8. "Chair Model" (April 17, 2008) - Season 4
  9. "Prince Family Paper" (January 22, 2009) - Season 5
  10. "Dream Team" (April 9, 2009) - Season 5
  11. "Happy Hour" (March 25, 2010) - Season 6
  12. "Counseling" (September 30, 2010) - Season 7
  13. "Threat Level Midnight" (February 17, 2011) - Season 7
  14. "The List" (September 22, 2011) - Season 8
  15. "Free Family Portrait Studio" (May 10, 2012) - Season 8

Writers Guild of America Award for Comedy Series (2006)
Nominated: Writers Guild of America Award for a Comedy Series (2005, 2007, 2008)
Nominated: Writers Guild of America Award for a New Series (2005)
Nominated: Writers Guild of America Award for an Episodic Comedy (2005, 2007)

2013Mindy Project, TheThe Mindy Project1 episode
Roles as a director
2009Office, TheThe OfficeBlackmail webisode series4 episodes
2009The Office – "Scott's Tots"aired 12/03/09
2011The Office - "The Seminar"aired 01/27/11
The Office - "The List"aired 09/22/11
2012The Office – "Trivia"aired 01/12/12
2013The Mindy Project – "Mindy's Minute"aired 02/19/13
2013The Mindy Project - "Santa Fe"aired 04/09/13

Awards and nominations[edit]

List of awards and nominations
2005Writers Guild of America AwardsNew SeriesNominatedThe Office
Episodic Comedy - for episode "Diversity Day"Nominated
Comedy SeriesNominated
2006Screen Actors Guild AwardsOutstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy SeriesWon
Writers Guild of America AwardsComedy SeriesWon
2007Screen Actors Guild AwardsOutstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series[13]Won
Emmy AwardsOutstanding Comedy SeriesNominated
Writers Guild of America AwardsEpisodic Comedy - for episode "Local Ad"Nominated
Comedy SeriesNominated
2008Screen Actors Guild AwardsOutstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy SeriesNominated
Emmy AwardsOutstanding Comedy SeriesNominated
Writers Guild of America AwardsComedy SeriesNominated
2009Prism AwardsPerformance in a Comedy SeriesNominated


  1. ^ Courtney Hollands (20 December 2007). "Molly Goodson has stars in her eyes - and on her blog". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2009-03-06. 
  2. ^ Berman, Alyssa R.; Beborah B. Doroshow (2001-05-14). "BJ's Bring a Full House to Sanders". Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 2009-08-19. 
  3. ^ Novak, William (2006). The Big Book of Jewish Humor. Collins. pp. vii. ISBN 0-06-113813-4. 
  4. ^ Getlin, John (1992-09-17). "Ghost to the Stars - William Novak Is the Invisible Writer Behind Memoirs by Lee Iacocca, Nancy Reagan and--Soon--Magic Johnson". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-08-19. 
  5. ^ Uriel Heilman (19 November 2006). "Better than Pork, Isn't it? Jewish Joke Book turns 25". JTA. Retrieved 2009-03-13. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Christopher Muther (6 December 2005). "Class reunion". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on 24 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-06. 
  7. ^ Biography for B. J. Novak at the Internet Movie Database
  8. ^ a b "B.J. Novak: Videos, Jokes, Tour Dates, Biography and more". Jokes.com. ComedyCentral. 2009. Archived from the original on 19 March 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  9. ^ David Hiltbrand, "B.J. Novak gives at 'The Office' and out of it," Philadelphia Inquirer, June 11, 2009.
  10. ^ Michael Ausiello, "Exclusive: B.J. Novak Takes 'Office' Leave," Entertainment Weekly, November 12, 2008.
  11. ^ Julie Bosman, "B.J. Novak, Actor and Writer, Signs Two-Book Deal," New York Times, April 11, 2013.
  12. ^ "B.J. Novak on his 'Mindy Project' arc, being BFF with Mindy Kaling, and returning to 'The Office'," Oh No They Didn't! January 29, 2013.
  13. ^ Andrew Krukowski, "'Sopranos,' 'The Office' Win SAG Ensemble Awards," TVWeek, January 27, 2008.

External links[edit]

External video
Joey Fatone interviews Novak at the 14th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (2008)