Will Arnett
Arnett in 2019
Born
William Emerson Arnett

(1970-05-04) May 4, 1970 (age 54)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Citizenship
  • Canada
  • United States
Occupations
  • Actor
  • comedian
  • producer
Years active1994–present
Spouses
  • (m. 1994; div. 1995)
  • (m. 2003; div. 2016)
PartnerAlessandra Brawn (2019–present)
Children3

William Emerson Arnett (/ɑːrˈnɛt/; born May 4, 1970[1]) is a Canadian and American actor and comedian. In television, Arnett played Gob Bluth in the Fox/Netflix series Arrested Development (2003–2006, 2013, 2018–2019) and the titular character in the Netflix series BoJack Horseman (2014–2020). He has appeared in films such as Let's Go to Prison (2006), Blades of Glory (2007), Semi-Pro (2008), G-Force (2009), Jonah Hex (2010), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) and its sequel Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (2016), and Show Dogs (2018).

His deep baritone voice has landed him numerous voice acting jobs, including Danny Phantom (2004–2007), Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006), Ratatouille (2007), Horton Hears a Who! (2008), Monsters vs. Aliens (2009), Despicable Me (2010), The Nut Job (2014) and its sequel The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature (2017), The Lego Movie franchise (2014–2019), Teen Titans Go! To the Movies (2018), Dolittle (2020), Rumble (2021), and Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers (2022). Arnett has received seven Primetime Emmy Award nominations for his work in Arrested Development, 30 Rock, and BoJack Horseman. Since 2020, he has hosted the Fox reality series Lego Masters. In July 2020, Arnett began co-hosting the comedy podcast SmartLess alongside Sean Hayes and Jason Bateman. He also starred in Netflix's 2022 six-part improvised comedy series Murderville. In 2023, he provided the voice of Sweet Tooth in the Peacock series Twisted Metal, based on the video game franchise of the same name.

Early life

Arnett was born in Toronto, Ontario,[2] to Edith Alexandra "Alix" (Palk) and Emerson James "Jim" Arnett, who was a corporate lawyer and brewer, among other occupations.[3][4][5] His parents were originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, and he has roots on both sides of his family in Manitoba going back many generations.[6] Arnett has two older sisters and a younger brother.[7] His father, a graduate of Harvard University and a corporate lawyer, served as the president and CEO of Molson Breweries from 1997 to 2000.[8]

Arnett briefly attended Lakefield College School in Lakefield, Ontario, but was asked not to return after a semester for being a troublemaker.[9][10] The Subway Academy II allowed him to take theatre classes at the Tarragon Theatre. He eventually graduated from Leaside High School and attended Concordia University, Montreal for a semester but dropped out.[10] As a teenager, he was encouraged by his mother to pursue an acting career. He auditioned for commercials in Toronto and enjoyed acting. In 1990, he moved to New York City to study acting at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute.[11] He appeared in plays in New York, and his first acting role was in Felicity Huffman's independent film Erie, which was filmed on the Erie Canal.[12] As mentioned on the SmartLess podcast, Arnett is an avid hockey fan and workout enthusiast, known to often boast about his “Pro Dumper” and ability to bench press as much as 165 pounds.[11]

Career

Arnett at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival

Acting

In February 1996, Arnett made his first television pilot with Kevin Pollak and his wife Lucy Webb for CBS, that was not picked up.[12] In 1999, Arnett was in another pilot for The Mike O'Malley Show on NBC as the protagonist's friend Jimmy. The show was picked up, but it was cancelled after 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".[12] In summer 2000, a friend helped pull Arnett out of his battle with alcoholism, and he began to get his career back on track.[13]

In 2001, Arnett was cast in the CBS television pilot, Loomis as the slacker brother of a local news reporter (Cheri Oteri), that was not picked up. In 2002, Arnett was cast in a fourth television pilot which was for the CBS sitcom Still Standing, which was picked up and ran for several seasons, but his character was cut from the series after the pilot.[2] Arnett became so frustrated, after his fourth failed pilot, that he "swore off pilots"[2] altogether, until his agent persuaded him to audition for the pilot for Arrested Development.

In 2003, Arnett found mainstream success in television when he played George Oscar "Gob" Bluth II in the Fox comedy series Arrested Development and in 2006 he was nominated for his first Emmy.[14] The show was cancelled after three seasons due to low ratings, despite its critical acclaim and cult following.[15] He played Max the Magician in Sesame Street, in a nod to Gob Bluth's penchant for using Europe's "The Final Countdown" during his magic shows.[16] According to a 2006 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Arnett's two favourite episodes of the show were "Pier Pressure" and "Afternoon Delight".[17] His exposure on Arrested Development led to a number of larger roles in feature films. Though having worked in drama, his role for Arrested Development is still comedy, and he often portrays smug antagonists. He "never considered himself a comic" and considers himself an "actor first".[18]

In 2002, prior to Arrested Development, Arnett guest-starred in The Sopranos and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.[19] In 2006, Arnett starred in his first leading role in Let's Go to Prison, directed by Bob Odenkirk.[20] It earned more than US$4 million at the box office and more than US$13 million in rentals.[21] In Blades of Glory, Arnett and his then-wife Amy Poehler played brother/sister ice-skating pair with an incestuous relationship. The film was No. 1 at the U.S. box office during its first two weeks,[22] and grossed approximately US$118 million domestically during its theatrical run.[23] and US$36 million on home video.[24] He guest-starred in King of the Hill and 30 Rock; in the latter, he played the recurring role of Devon Banks, Jack Donaghy's archnemesis, for which he was nominated for four Emmy Awards for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series.

Arnett played supporting roles in the films Spring Breakdown, Hot Rod, The Comebacks, and On Broadway, where he once again worked with his close friend and director Dave McLaughlin. In The Brothers Solomon, he again teamed with Odenkirk and starred with Saturday Night Live member Will Forte. He appeared in a major supporting role in the basketball comedy Semi-Pro, his second film with Ferrell.[25] He plays Lou Redwood, the commentator of the team, who is "a former player, a bit of a womanizer, and a boozer".[26] On November 17, 2009, it was announced that Arnett would try to win over real-life wife Amy Poehler in a guest spot on Parks and Recreation. Arnett played Chris, an MRI technician 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.[27]

He starred in Running Wilde which was cancelled in January 2011, due to poor ratings[28] as well as The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret with David Cross. On March 23, 2011, Arnett appeared in the penultimate episode to The Office season 7.[29] Arnett co-starred in the NBC television comedy series Up All Night, about a couple who struggle to balance their home lives (especially with their newborn child) and their work ones.

He had been attached to play the lead role of David Miller in the 2013 comedy We're the Millers, but had to pass due to scheduling; the part went to Jason Sudeikis.[citation needed] He co-starred as Vern Fenwick in the 2014 film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and its 2016 sequel, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.[30] Arnett starred in the CBS sitcom The Millers, which lasted for two seasons.

In 2017, Arnett was cast in the recurring role of Mr. Quagmire on the Netflix comedy drama series A Series of Unfortunate Events.[31]

In December 2021, it was announced that Arnett had replaced Armie Hammer in reshoots, in part of the role of Alex Magnussen in Next Goal Wins due to abuse allegations made against Hammer in January 2021. The part, initially meant as a cameo, was expanded upon when Arnett joined.[32]

Will Arnett is currently set to star in Is This Thing On? alongside Bradley Cooper. Arnett will write the screenplay while Cooper will direct.[33]

Voice-over work

Arnett's distinctive gravelly voice has earned him voice-over work for CBS television 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.[34] He has lent his voice to a number of television shows, such as Ghost Writer in the 2005 Nickelodeon's series Danny Phantom, Duncan Schiesst for the Comedy Central animated program Freak Show, which was created by and stars the voice of his Arrested Development co-star David Cross. Arnett was the announcer for the faux trailer "Don't" in the 2007 film Grindhouse, and became announcer for Cartoon Network in October 2008 during its "Noods" era, replacing Greg Cipes.

He has voiced characters in animated films, including Vlad in Horton Hears a Who!,[35] The Missing Link in Monsters vs. Aliens, Horst the German sous-chef in Ratatouille, and Mr. Perkins in Despicable Me. He planned to be 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.[36] Arnett made a commercial cameo for the video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.[37]

In 2009, he voiced the title character in Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard, a video game developed by Vicious Cycle Software and starred as an out of work former video game protagonist hoping to make a comeback, versus a greedy game executive played by Neil Patrick Harris. In the Fox animated comedy series Sit Down, Shut Up, he voiced Ennis Hofftard, a bodybuilder who teaches English and always attempts to chase women.[38] The show premiered on April 19, 2009, but was eventually cancelled after several months due to poor ratings. It aired its last episode on November 21, 2009.[38]

Arnett lent his voice to Batman in the film The Lego Movie. Arnett reprised the role in The Lego Batman Movie, a spin-off of The Lego Movie released in 2017[39] as well as The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, released in 2019. He reprises the role in an episode of the franchise's spinoff animated series Unikitty! titled "BatKitty", which aired days before the release of the film.[40]

He voiced the eponymous character in the critically acclaimed Netflix animated sitcom BoJack Horseman, which ran from 2014 to 2020.[41][42]

In 2021, Arnett played The Facts of Life's Dink Lockwood in a reenactment of the third season episode "Kids Can Be Cruel" for the third edition of Live in Front of a Studio Audience.[43]

Other work

He is the spokesman of a series of Hulu advertisements and his role in television spots deliberately recalls Devon Banks as a power-hungry manipulator. In July 2020, Arnett, along with Bateman and Sean Hayes, created a comedy and talk podcast called SmartLess.[44]

Producing

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.[45]

In March 2012, Mansome, Arnett's first executive-producer credit with Bateman, was announced as a Spotlight selection for the Tribeca Film Festival.[46] The documentary, directed by Morgan Spurlock, is a comedic look at male identity as it is defined through men's grooming habits featuring celebrity and expert commentary.

In 2016, he co-created, co-wrote and starred in the Netflix original series Flaked, which received negative reviews from critics.[47]

Arnett at the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con International promoting The Lego Batman Movie.

Cursed Friends, a Comedy Central original movie from Arnett's production company Electric Avenue,[48] was announced in September 2022. Arnett is set to make an appearance in the film.[49]

Personal life

Arnett lives in Los Angeles, California, and is a dual citizen of Canada and the United States.[50] He moved to New York City in 1990 and lived there for 20 years.[51] In 2015, Arnett bought property in Beverly Hills and began construction on a new home, which was completed in 2017.[52] In 2021, he sold the custom home and moved to a modern farmhouse in Benedict Canyon.[53]

Arnett has been married twice and has three children.

He was married to Penelope Ann Miller for a brief period between 1994 and 1995. The two began dating in November 1994 and married a month later in December 1994.[54] They divorced less than a month later in January 1995.[55]

Arnett began dating Amy Poehler in 2000, four years after their initial encounter in 1996 when he saw her in an Upright Citizens Brigade performance.[56] Arnett and Poehler married on August 29, 2003, and had two sons together.[57] Their first son was born on October 25, 2008,[58][59] and their second son was born in August 2010.[60] Arnett and Poehler separated amicably in September 2012.[61][62] [63] In April 2014, Arnett filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences.[57] Their divorce was finalized in July 2016.[64][65] During their relationship, the two appeared together in four episodes of Arrested Development, one episode of Parks and Recreation, and the films Blades of Glory, Horton Hears a Who!, On Broadway, Spring Breakdown, Monsters vs. Aliens, and the Disney American English dubbing of The Secret World of Arrietty.

Arnett began a relationship with socialite and businesswoman Alessandra Brawn in 2019. They have one child together, one son, born on May 27, 2020.[66]

Arnett has struggled with alcoholism in the past, a topic explored in his shows Flaked and BoJack Horseman. He managed to maintain sobriety for 15 years until a relapse during the production of Flaked.[67] Flaked is in part inspired by Arnett's own struggles with alcoholism. He has attested that Alcoholics Anonymous has played a role in reclaiming sobriety.[68]

Arnett lists Steve Martin and Chevy Chase as his two biggest comedic influences.[17]

Honors

In 2005, New York magazine named Arnett and then-wife Poehler "New Yorkers of the Year" during its annual New York Magazine Culture Awards.[69] In April 2007, during a panel hosted by The Paley Center for Media, talk show host Conan O'Brien and his writing staff named Will Arnett as one of their three all-time favourite guests, sharing the honour with fellow Canadians Norm Macdonald and Harland Williams.[70] Also in April 2007, Entertainment Weekly named Will Arnett a "Future King of Comedy."[71] In May 2007, Best Week Ever ranked Arnett No. 9 on its "Top 15 Sexiest Nerd Boys" poll.[72] In July 2007, Premiere magazine named Arnett one of "The 20 Hottest New Faces in Comedy."[73] In July 2019, Arnett was inducted into the Canada Walk of Fame.[74]

Filmography

Film

Year Title Role Notes
1996 Close Up Dave
Ed's Next Move Weather Video Guy [75]
1997 The Broken Giant Ezra Caton [76]
1999 Southie Whitey [77]
The Waiting Game Lenny
2000 The Acting Class Will Bennett
2001 Series 7: The Contenders Narrator Voice[78]
2005 Monster-in-Law Kit
2006 Ice Age: The Meltdown Lone Gunslinger Voice[78]
RV Todd Mallory
The Great New Wonderful Danny Segment: Emme's Story
Let's Go to Prison Nelson Biederman IV
Wristcutters: A Love Story Messiah
2007 Blades of Glory Stranz Van Waldenberg
Grindhouse Announcer Voice, segment: "Don't"
On Broadway Tom
Ratatouille Horst Voice[78]
Hot Rod Jonathan Ault
The Brothers Solomon John Solomon
The Comebacks Mailman
2008 Semi-Pro Lou Redwood
Horton Hears a Who! Vlad Vladikoff Voice[78]
The Rocker Lex Drennan
2009 Spring Breakdown Ted Direct-to-DVD
Brief Interviews with Hideous Men Subject No. 11
Monsters vs. Aliens The Missing Link Voice[78]
G-Force Secret Agent Kip Killian [79]
2010 When in Rome Antonio Donatelo
Jonah Hex Lieutenant Grass
Despicable Me Mr. Perkins Voice[78]
2012 The Secret World of Arrietty Pod Voice, English dub[78]
Men in Black 3 Agent AA Uncredited
Mansome Himself Documentary
Producer
2014 The Nut Job Surly Voice[78]
The Lego Movie Bruce Wayne / Batman Voice[16]
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vern Fenwick
2015 Being Canadian Himself Documentary
2016 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows Vern Fenwick
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Main CMZ Reporter
2017 The Lego Batman Movie Bruce Wayne / Batman Voice
Dark Hoser Voice, short film
Batman is Just Not That Into You
Cooking with Alfred
The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature Surly Voice[78]
2018 Show Dogs Det. Frank Nicholas
Teen Titans Go! To the Movies Slade Voice; also producer[80][81][78]
2019 The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part Batman Voice[78]
2020 Dolittle Jackrabbit in prison cell Voice, uncredited
2021 Rumble Steve Voice[78]
2022 Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers Sweet Pete Voice[78]
Minions: The Rise of Gru Mr. Perkins Voice[78]
G’day, the short film Louie Voice, short film[82]
2023 Next Goal Wins Alex Magnussen [83]

Television

Year Title Role Notes Refs
1994 Cybermania '94 Himself (remote host) Awards show
1999 Sex and the City Jack Episode: "La Douleur Exquise!"
The Mike O'Malley Show Jimmy 13 episodes
2000 Third Watch Kenny Episode: "Spring Forward, Fall Back"
2001 Boston Public Hand Salesman Episode: "Chapter Twenty-Nine"
2002 Yes, Dear Bobby Episode: "Johnny Ampleseed"
The Sopranos Mike Waldrup 2 episodes
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Tony Damon Episode: "Angels"
2003 Undefeated Scott Green's Assistant Television film
2003–2006
2013
2018–2019
Arrested Development George Oscar "G.O.B." Bluth II 82 episodes [16]
2004 Will & Grace Artemis Johnson Episode: "Back Up, Dancer"
2005 Odd Job Jack Tiberius McKorkindale Voice, 2 episodes
Danny Phantom Ghost Writer Voice, episode: "The Fright Before Christmas" [78]
2006 Freak Show Duncan Schiesst Voice, 7 episodes
O'Grady Dougski Voice, 1 episode[84]
The X's Pork E. Bacon Voice, episode: "From Crusha With Love"
2007 King of the Hill Portis Voice, episode: "Hank Gets Dusted"
2007–2013 30 Rock Devon Banks 9 episodes[16]
2008 Sesame Street Max the Magician Episode: "Max the Magician"[16]
Human Giant Himself Episode: "I'm Gonna Live Forever!"
2009 Sit Down, Shut Up Ennis Hofftard Voice, 13 episodes
Delocated TV Announcer Voice, episode: "Good Buds"
Monsters vs. Aliens:
Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space
The Missing Link Voice, television film [78]
2009–2011 Late Night with Jimmy Fallon Himself/Brett Favre 6 episodes
2010 Parks and Recreation Chris Episode: "The Set Up"
2010–2011 Running Wilde Steve Wilde 13 episodes; also co-creator and executive producer
2010–2012
2016
The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret Brent Wilts 17 episodes
2011 The Office Fred Henry Episode: "Search Committee"
2011–2012 Up All Night Chris 35 episodes
2012 The Cleveland Show General Richter Voice, episode: "A General Thanksgiving Episode"
Comedy Bang! Bang! Dale Episode: "Seth Rogen Wears a Plaid Shirt & Brown Pants"
2013, 2015 The Late Late Show Himself (Guest host) 3 episodes
2013–2014 The Millers Nathan Miller 34 episodes
2014 The Simpsons Deputy Director Gratman Voice, episode: "Steal This Episode"
2014–2020 BoJack Horseman BoJack Horseman
/ Additional voices
Voice, 76 episodes; also executive producer
2014 Wander Over Yonder Ryder Voice, episode: "The Rider" [85]
2016–2017 Flaked Chip 14 episodes; also co-creator, executive producer and director
2016 Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Kitty Voice, episode: "Kimmy Kidnaps Gretchen!"; uncredited
2017 A Series of Unfortunate Events Father/Mr. Quagmire 8 episodes
Jimmy Kimmel Live! Himself (guest host) 1 episode
Minecon Earth 2017 Himself (co-host) YouTube live show
Netflix: LIVE Himself (host) Netflix special
2017–2018 The Gong Show Himself (guest judge) 5 episodes; also executive producer
2017 The Magic School Bus Rides Again Galapagos Gil Voice, episode: "Frizzle Of The Future" [78]
2017–2019 Hot Date Sam Keurig Episode: "For Real, Where Have All My Friends Gone?"; also executive producer
2018 The Guest Book Rob Episode: "Under Cover"
2019 Unikitty! Bruce Wayne / Batman / Batkitty Voice, episode: "Batkitty"
Riviera Jeff Carter 10 episodes
2020–present LEGO Masters Himself (host) Also executive producer [86]
2020 The First Team Mark Crane 4 episodes
2021 All or Nothing: Toronto Maple Leafs Himself (narrator) Voice, 5 episodes
Muppets Haunted Mansion Ghost Host Television special
The Morning Show Doug Klassen 2 episodes
Live in Front of a Studio Audience Dink Lockwood Episode: "Diff'rent Strokes and The Facts of Life"
2022 Murderville Senior Detective Terry Seattle 7 episodes; also executive producer
Our Flag Means Death Calico Jack Episode: "We Gull Way Back"
Island of the Sea Wolves Himself (narrator) 3 episodes; Netflix documentary series
2023–present Twisted Metal Sweet Tooth Voice, main role
Also executive producer

Video games

Year Title Role
2009 Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard Matt Hazard[78]
Monsters vs. Aliens The Missing Link[78]
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Sgt. Arnett
2015 Lego Dimensions Bruce Wayne / Batman (The LEGO Batman Movie), Excalibur Batman
2022 Tiny Tina's Wonderlands Dragon Lord[78]

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Project Result Ref.
2004 TV Land Award Future Classic Award (Shared with cast and producers) Arrested Development Won
2005 Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Ensemble in a Comedy Series (Shared with cast) Nominated
2006 Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Nominated
2008 Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series 30 Rock Nominated
2010 Nominated
2011 Nominated
2012 Nominated
Satellite Award Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy Up All Night Nominated
2014 Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Ensemble in a Comedy Series (Shared with cast) Arrested Development Nominated
American Comedy Award Best Comedy Supporting Actor – TV Nominated
2015 Kids' Choice Award Favorite Movie Actor The Lego Movie Nominated [87]
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Nominated
2017 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows Nominated
MTV Movie & TV Awards Best Comedic Performance The Lego Batman Movie Nominated [88]
Teen Choice Awards Choice Comedy Movie Actor Nominated [89]
2019 Annie Awards Outstanding Achievement for Voice Acting in an Animated Series BoJack Horseman Won [90]
2021 Critics' Choice Super Awards Best Voice Actor in an Animated Series Won [91]

References

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