Birthdate: July 31, 1979
Birthplace: Newton, Massachusetts, USA
J. Novak (birthname: Benjamin Joseph Manaly Novak) is a veteran TV writer and director, essayist, book author, and most recently, feature film director. He appeared in 166 episodes, wrote 15 episodes, and directed nine episodes of the U.S. (NBC) version of The Office, starring Steve Carell.
Novak was also a writer-actor-director on the hit comedy series, The Mindy Project, for which he received a Writers Guild of America Award for Best New Series—something he also received for The Office.
Novak has had small supporting roles in Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up (2007), with Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl; Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds (2009), with Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, and Michael Fassbender; voice roles in The Smurfs (2011) and The Smurfs 2 (2013); Shawn Levy’s The Internship (2013), with Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn; The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014), with Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, and Jamie Foxx; and John Lee Hancock’s biopic, The Founder (2016), with Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman, and John Carroll Lynch.
Novak had a somewhat larger role, as Mary Poppins co-composer, Robert B. Sherman, in John Lee Hancock’s Disney biopic, Saving Mr. Banks (2013), with Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson, Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman, and Colin Farrell.
More recently, Novak has turned to feature filmmaking. He is the star-writer-director of the Blumhouse-produced black comedy, Vengeance (2022), with Boyd Holbrook, Issa Rae, and Ashton Kutcher, which premiered at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival and was theatrically distributed by Focus Features.
Born in Newton, Massachusetts, and raised by mother Linda and father and author William Novak. Novak has two siblings, younger brothers Lev and TV composer Jesse Novak. He was schooled at Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Boston, and Newton South High School in his hometown.
Majoring in English and Spanish literature at Harvard University, Novak was also a member of The Harvard Lampoon and produced the variety comedy act, The B.J. Show. He has been in an on-again, off-again relationship with comedy actor-writer Mindy Kaling, with whom he was a co-writer on The Office (2005-2013) and co-writer and co-cast member on The Mindy Project (2013-2016). Novak’s height is 5’ 8½”.
Harvard Man: B.J. Novak wrote a graduate thesis at Harvard analyzing films based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
Author: Novak is the author of three books, including his story collection, One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories, his 2014 book The Book with No Pictures, and the follow-up 2019 book, My Book with No Pictures. He is also the author of several essays which have appeared in The Harvard Lampoon, Playboy magazine, Nautilus, and The New Yorker.