4 may, 1970
William Emerson "Will" Arnett (pronounced ; born May 4, 1970) is a Canadian actor and comedian best known for roles as George Oscar "G.O.B." Bluth II on the Fox comedy Arrested Development and as Devon Banks on the NBC comedy 30 Rock. Since his success on Arrested Development, Arnett has landed major film roles. He recently played supporting roles in the comedy films Semi-Pro, Blades of Glory, and Hot Rod. He starred in 2006's Let's Go to Prison and 2007's The Brothers Solomon. Arnett has also done work as a voiceover artist for commercials, films, television programs, and video games.
Arnett was born in Toronto, the son of Edith Alexandra (née Palk) and Emerson James Arnett, who was a corporate lawyer and brewer, among other occupations.
In Toronto, he attended Francophone schools. He speaks French, but has stated that he is not currently fluent in the language. Arnett briefly attended Lakefield College School in Lakefield, Ontario, but was asked not to return after a semester for being a troublemaker. He was a year behind Michael Kulas, of the British rock group James, and Sebastian Bach of Skid Row. and two years behind Felipe, Prince of Asturias. He then attended the Subway Academy II which allowed him to take theatre classes at the Tarragon Theatre, and eventually graduated from Leaside High School.
He attended Concordia University in Montreal for a semester, but dropped out. When he was a teenager, Arnett's mother encouraged him to pursue an acting career and he began to audition for commercials in Toronto. He decided that he really enjoyed acting and that it was something that he wanted to do with his life. Aged 20, in 1990, Arnett moved to New York City to study acting at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. He began appearing in plays in New York and his first acting role was in the Felicity Huffman independent film Erie, which was filmed on the Erie Canal.
In February 1996, Arnett began acting in television pilots. His first was a pilot with Kevin Pollak and his wife, Lucy Webb, for CBS, that was not picked up. The pilot, The Underworld, revolved around "The head of an organized crime family [who] hounds an ex-con who only wants to go straight." After the show was not picked up, he appeared in the movie Southie, which was written by Arnett's friend Dave McLaughlin. In 1999, Arnett was cast in another pilot for The Mike O'Malley Show on NBC. Arnett was a regular on the series, playing the protagonist's friend Jimmy. The show was picked up, but it was canceled after only two episodes. Arnett has referred to 2000, the year after that show was cancelled, as "the darkest year of [his] life" and he admits that he "didn't get a lot of work" and "drank those years away".
Arnett considers the summer of 2000 to have been a turning point for him because a friend helped pull him out of his battle with alcoholism and he began to get his career back on track.
In 2001, Arnett was cast in another television pilot, Loomis, for CBS. The pilot starred Cheri Oteri as a local news reporter, and Arnett played her slacker brother. The pilot was not picked up. In 2002, Arnett was cast in a fourth television pilot. This pilot was for the CBS sitcom Still Standing. This time the show was picked up and ran for several seasons, but his character was cut from the series after the pilot. Arnett became so frustrated, after his fourth failed pilot, that he "swore off pilots" altogether, until his agent persuaded him to audition for the pilot for Arrested Development.
In 2003, Will Arnett found mainstream success in television when he was cast in the role of George Oscar "Gob" Bluth II in the Fox comedy series Arrested Development. Arnett's character was one of the show's most popular, and he was nominated for an Emmy in 2006 for his portrayal. His character was also listed at #33 on TV's Top 50 Catch Phrases with the line, "I've made a huge mistake." The show was cancelled after three seasons due to low ratings, despite its critical acclaim and cult following. Later, Arnett's guest appearance as Max the Magician on Sesame Street referenced his Arrested Development character's penchant for using Europe's "The Final Countdown" during his magic shows. Arnett has said that his favorite episodes of the show were "Pier Pressure" and "Afternoon Delight".
Arnett's exposure on Arrested Development led to a number of larger roles in feature films. Although he had previously worked largely as a dramatic actor, his roles since Arrested Development have been mostly comedic, often playing smug antagonists. Despite the fact that Arnett has emerged as a comic actor, Arnett "never considered himself a comic" and considers himself an "actor first." Before Arrested Development, he did play the dramatic role of FBI agent Mike Waldrup on several episodes of The Sopranos. Arnett's first major starring role was in Let's Go to Prison, a comedy film directed by Bob Odenkirk. The film was made on a small budget of $4 million. It made over $4 million at the box office and over $13 million in rentals. One of Arnett's recent films was Blades of Glory, an ice-skating comedy in which Arnett and his wife, Amy Poehler, played supporting roles to Will Ferrell. In the film, they played a brother/sister skating duo with an unhealthily intimate relationship. The film was number one at the US box office during its first two weeks, and grossed approximately $118 million domestically during its theatrical run. and $36 million on home video.
Arnett has made guest appearances on King of the Hill and 30 Rock. On 30 Rock, he played Devon Banks, a scheming network executive who plays a rival to Alec Baldwin's character Jack Donaghy. His role as Devon Banks earned him an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor In A Comedy Series. Arnett also played supporting roles in the films Spring Breakdown, Hot Rod, The Comebacks, and On Broadway. In On Broadway, he once again worked with director Dave McLaughlin who is a close friend of Arnett's and gave him one of his first movie roles in Southie.
Arnett's next starring role was in the comedy The Brothers Solomon, in which he again teamed with director Bob Odenkirk and starred opposite Saturday Night Lives Will Forte. He appeared in a major supporting role in the basketball comedy Semi-Pro, his second film with Ferrell. He plays Lou Redwood, the commentator of the team, who is "a former player, a bit of a womanizer, and a boozer".
Arnett was signed on for a supporting role in Ye Olde Times, along with Jack Black, but the project has fallen through. He has signed on to new projects in which he will play starring roles, including Jeff the Demon for New Line Cinema, in which he will play a demon who is summoned by a pair of high school losers. He is also signed on to the lead role in The Ambassador for DreamWorks and Paramount Pictures, in which he will play "a former U.S. vice president's privileged son, who is assigned an ambassadorship in Europe, where he quickly becomes the quintessential ugly American." Arnett has signed on for the lead in Space Invader for Fox Atomic, which will center on a love triangle set on a space station. Arnett is also attached to lead roles in Dad Can't Lose, Get 'Em Wet, and Most Likely to Succeed. Arnett was originally attached to play the lead role of David Miller in the film We're the Millers, but had to pass on the project due to "scheduling reasons" and the part went to Steve Buscemi.
On November 17, 2009, it was announced that Will Arnett would try to win over real-life wife Amy Poehler in a guest spot on Parks and Recreation. Arnett played Chris, an MRI technologist and possible love interest for Poehler's Leslie Knope. Justin Theroux appeared in the same episode as yet another suitor. Arnett signed on for one episode, and the episode entitled "The Set Up" aired January 14, 2010.
In 2010, Arnett and former Arrested Development co-star Jason Bateman created DumbDumb Productions, a production company focusing on digital content. Their first video was "Prom Date," the first in a series of "Dirty shorts" for Orbit (gum).
As of 2010, Arnett was starring in Running Wilde, a comedy where he plays a spoiled, rich man opposite Keri Russell, the daughter of his father's former housekeeper, as well as The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, created by and starring Arrested Development castmate David Cross. Running Wilde was cancelled in January 2011, due to poor ratings..
On March 23, 2011, it was announced that Arnett would be appearing in the final episode of season 7 of The Office.
Arnett will be co-starring in the American television comedy series Up All Night created by Emily Spivey set to premiere on NBC in the fall of 2011. The show centers on a couple who struggle to balance their home lives (especially with their newborn child) and their work lives. Beside Arnett, the show will star Christina Applegate, Maya Rudolph and James Pumphrey.
Arnett has a distinctive gravelly voice and has done voice-over work for CBS TV promos, film trailers and numerous advertisements, including Lamisil medication. Perhaps most recognizable is Arnett's voice saying, "It's not more than you need, just more than you're used to" in ads for GMC trucks.
Arnett has also lent his voice to a number of television shows. In 2005, he guest starred in Nickelodeon's hit series 'Danny Phantom' as Ghostwriter. In 2006, Arnett voiced the character Duncan Schiesst for the Comedy Central animated program Freak Show, which was created by and also stars the voice of his former Arrested Development co-star, David Cross. Recently, Arnett took the role of announcer for the faux trailer "Don't" in the movie Grindhouse. He also voiced the character "Vlad" from the CGI film Horton Hears a Who!. He voiced 'The Missing Link' in DreamWorks' film Monsters vs. Aliens. In 2007, he voiced Horst the German sous-chef, in the Disney Pixar film Ratatouille.
Arnett was to have been the voice of the K.I.T.T. in Universal's Knight Rider, a sequel to the popular 1980s television series. The production featured a Ford Mustang as K.I.T.T. Since Arnett had a previous long standing relationship with competitor automaker General Motors as the voice for GMC Trucks commercials, GM asked Arnett to pull out of the project. Arnett opted to withdraw from the project and he was replaced by Val Kilmer.
In 2009, Arnett became a regular voice cast in the Fox comedy series, Sit Down, Shut Up. He voiced Ennis Hofftard, a bodybuilder who teaches English and always attempts to chase women. The series premiered on April 19, 2009 but was eventually cancelled after several months due to poor ratings. It aired its last episode on free-to-air television on November 21, 2009. Jason Bateman, Kristin Chenoweth, Will Forte, Tom Kenny, Nick Kroll, Cheri Oteri, Kenan Thompson and Henry Winkler were the other main cast members.
Arnett has two elder sisters and a younger brother. His father was a corporate lawyer and became the president and CEO of Molson Breweries in 1997, until he stepped down in 2000. His father, a graduate of Harvard University, previously worked as a director for the company.
In 1994, Arnett married actress Penelope Ann Miller, and they divorced in 1995. Arnett dated actress Missy Yager, with whom he lived for four years. They starred on The Mike O'Malley Show together and broke up around the time the show began.
Arnett began dating comic actress Amy Poehler in 2000; Arnett moved to New York City in 2001 when she became a featured player on NBC's Saturday Night Live. On August 29, 2003, Arnett and Poehler married. Poehler appeared alongside Arnett in four episodes of Arrested Development in 2004 and 2005. Arnett and Poehler starred alongside each other in the films Blades of Glory, Horton Hears a Who!, On Broadway, Spring Breakdown, and Monsters vs. Aliens. On October 25, 2008, Poehler gave birth to a son, Archibald William Emerson Arnett, in New York City. On August 6, 2010, Poehler gave birth to son Abel James Arnett. Arnett and Poehler have two dogs, Puzzle and Suki.
Arnett lists Steve Martin and Chevy Chase as his two biggest comic influences. Arnett grew up watching hockey in Canada, and is an avid follower of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team.