B.J. Novak Biography

(Starred as Ryan Howard in the NBC sitcom The Office (2005–2013))

Birthday: July 31, 1979 (Leo)

Born In: Newton, Massachusetts, United States

American actor and writer B. J. Novak shot to international fame with his performance as Ryan Howard in the US version of the iconic UK sitcom The Office. He also wrote and executive-produced for the show and bagged two Screen Actors Guild Awards and five Primetime Emmy Award nominations for it. His other notable projects include the films Inglourious Basterds, Saving Mr. Banks, and The Founder. He has also appeared in his The Office co-star Mindy Kaling’s show The Mindy Project. He is known for his roles in movies such as Reign Over Me and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, too. A Harvard literature graduate, Novak has penned New York Times bestsellers such as the short story collection One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories and the children’s book The Book with No Pictures. He has been in an on-again, off-again relationship with his co-star Mindy Kaling and is the godfather of her two children.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Benjamin Joseph Manaly Novak

Age: 44 Years, 44 Year Old Males


father: William Novak

mother: Linda (née Manaly)

siblings: Jesse Novak, Lev Novak

Born Country: United States

Actors American Men

Height: 5'9" (175 cm), 5'9" Males

U.S. State: Massachusetts

More Facts

education: Harvard University

Childhood, Early Life & Education

B. J. Novak was born Benjamin Joseph Manaly Novak, on July 31, 1979, in Newton, Massachusetts, US, to Linda and William Novak. Novak's father was a comedy scholar and one of the co-editors of The Big Book of Jewish Humor. He had also ghost-written memoirs for celebrities such as Magic Johnson and Nancy Reagan.

Thus, since early childhood, Novak was surrounded by celebrities and comedians and was no stranger to the entertainment world. Novak's parents owned a Jewish matchmaking service, too.

Novak grew up with his two brothers, Jesse and Lev. Jesse Novak grew up to become a music composer and a member of Olde English Sketch Comedy, whereas Lev is an aspiring author.

Novak initially attended the Solomon Schechter Day School in Greater Boston. He then joined Brown Middle School. He also attended several Jewish summer camps at Camp Ramah in New England, Massachusetts.

He then studied in Newton South High School, where his future The Office co-star John Krasinski was his schoolmate. While there, Novak co-wrote a satirical play and edited the school paper The Lion's Roar.

After graduating in 1997, Novak joined Harvard University. In 2001, he graduated from Harvard in English and Spanish literature.

At Harvard, he worked for the Harvard Lampoon and staged a variety show titled The B.J. Show with his fellow Harvard student B. J. Averell. Novak’s honors thesis was on the movie adaptations of Shakespeare's Hamlet.

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Career as an Actor

Soon after his graduation from Harvard, B. J. Novak moved to Los Angeles and started working as a comedian in clubs. On October 10, 2001, he performed his first live stand-up gig at the Hollywood Youth Hostel.

From 2001 to 2002, he wrote for The WB sitcom Raising Dad. He also appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien and the Comedy Central show Premium Blend. By 2003, he was featured on Variety's list of the Ten Comedians to Watch.

He started his TV career with the MTV hidden-camera reality show Punk'd (2003), on which he appeared with Ashton Kutcher. The duo played pranks on celebrities such as Usher and Hilary Duff.

One of his opening jokes at a comedy club impressed executive producer Greg Daniels, who decided to cast him in his upcoming project, a US version of the iconic British series The Office (2005-2013).

B. J. Novak thus started his journey on The Office as Ryan Howard and later also wrote and co-executive-produced for the series. In July 2010, Novak apparently signed a contract to be with the show through its 7th and 8th seasons and work as a full executive producer and direct a few episodes of the show, too.

He remained with the show till its ninth season premiere, New Guys, and returned in its final episode, as a guest star. The series fetched him and its other cast members the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series twice (2006, 2007).

He and his fellow The Office writers and producers also bagged five consecutive nominations for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series (2007-2011). He later appeared on the show The Mindy Project (as Jamie, 2013-2016), created by his The Office co-star Mindy Kaling.

One of his other well-known roles was that of Pfc. Smithson Utivich in the 2009 Quentin Tarantino film Inglourious Basterds. He has also voiced Baker Smurf in The Smurfs franchise (2011, 2013).

His other notable roles are those of Robert B. Sherman in the 2013 biographical drama Saving Mr. Banks, Mr. Fallon in the 2007 buddy drama film Reign Over Me, supervillain Alistair Smith in the 2014 superhero film The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and Harry J. Sonneborn in the 2016 biographical drama The Founder. He has also appeared in minor roles in the 2006 comedy Unaccompanied Minors, the 2007 romantic comedy Knocked Up, and the 2013 comedy The Internship.

In 2022, Novak made his directorial debut with the dark comedy mystery film Vengeance. He also wrote it and starred in it.

Career as an Author

A bestselling author, too, B. J. Novak has penned several books, such as the short story collection One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories (New York Times bestseller in hardcover fiction, 2014) and the children’s books The Book with No Pictures (New York Times bestseller in picture books, 2014) and My Book with No Pictures (2019). He has also narrated his fellow actor Mindy Kaling’s book Is Everyone Hanging Out without Me?

Personal Life

B. J. Novak is known for his on-again, off-again relationship with his The Office co-star Mindy Kaling. Fans have often likened their relationship to their respective The Office characters, Ryan Howard and Kelly Kapoor.

Novak is the godfather of Kaling’s two children: her daughter Katherine Swati Kaling (born in 2017) and her son Spencer Avu Kaling (born in 2020). While Kaling is single, she has not yet revealed the identity/identities of the children’s father/s. Though there have been rumors that Novak could be the father of her children, Novak has maintained that while he once dated Kaling, he is now more of a “platonic best friend” to her.

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