Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Kat Dennings Biography

Kat Dennings never attended public high school, yet she made a career out of playing ordinary teens – albeit slightly awkward or rebellious – in movies and TV. Her breakout role was in “The 40 Year Old Virgin” (2005) as a teen having a hard time getting along with her mom’s new boyfriend. Described as a cross between Molly Ringwald, Winona Ryder, and Julia Roberts by screenwriter Lorene Scafaria, Dennings finally graduated to leading lady status in 2008 with “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” – a romantic comedy that also starred Michael Cera, another young actor who embodied a similar “kid-next-door” charm without bordering on cliché. Born Katherine Litwack on June 13, 1986 just outside Philadelphia, PA, Dennings’ father was a biochemist and her mother was a speech therapist-turned-poet named Ellie Litwack. She also had an older brother named Geoffrey, who inspired the star later on to join the world of video blogging on the Internet. The actress was home-schooled, a choice she made early on when she could not bear to be away from her mother while attending a local preschool. It was her semi-reclusive personality, however, that got Dennings interested in acting. “I’ve basically made a career out of my imagination,” she said. “I feel very lucky.” Her career began in an episode of “Sex and the City” (HBO, 1994-2004) as a precocious 13-year-old who hires Samantha Jones (Kim Cattrall) to plan her bat mitzvah in the 2000 episode “Hot Child In The City.” Dennings stood out onscreen as bratty Jenny Brier even in the midst of the fabulously larger-than-life characters of the series. Her next project was the short-lived sitcom “Raising Dad” (WB, 2001-02), where she played Bob Saget’s daughter. In 2002, Dennings moved to Los Angeles with her family to pursue acting full time, despite the fact that her parents initially thought it was, as she said in a 2007 article in Interview magazine, “the worst idea ever.” That statement – or the countless rejections she faced in auditions – did little to slow down the young actress who believed, “There's nothing else I would rather do, unless there was a profession that involved cuddling bunny rabbits and kittens all day for money.” It did not take long before she landed jobs on the small screen, appearing on the crime dramas “Without A Trace” (CBS, 2002- ) and “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” (CBS, 2000- ), and the fish-out-of-water sitcom “Less Than Perfect” (ABC, 2002-06). Dennings was cast in her first major film project in 2004, as rebellious pianist Sloane in “Raise Your Voice.” The coming-of-age drama starred Hilary Duff as a singer who transfers to a music school in Los Angeles. Compared to the blonde and bubbly Duff, the raven-haired, dark-eyed, combat boots-sporting Dennings proved not all teen characters had to look a certain way. She was even more unwilling to conform in the often brutally superficial world of Hollywood, itself. “I've had people tell me to get Mystic Tan, blonde highlights, choppy haircuts, but I've made a conscious decision not to cave,” she said. By not following the pack of starlets that Hollywood put on pedestals in the mid-2000s, Dennings was still able to land smaller-budget films that challenged her artistically. In 2005, she appeared in two independent features: the modern day Western “Down In The Valley” with Edward Norton and Evan Rachel Wood, and the drug-fueled flick “London” with Jason Statham and Chris Evans. But it was the Judd Apatow-directed comedy “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” that unknowingly put Dennings in her first monster hit as the punk teen daughter of Catherine Keener’s character, who insists through hilarious fits and tantrums, that she should be able to have sex with her boyfriend since her mother is sleeping with someone too. While the teen could have stuck with feature films after the mega-success of “Virgin,” she still appeared in TV projects that showcased her sometimes edgy acting range. She had a recurring role as Zoe Butler, a troubled eighth grader who sleeps with Dr. Ray (Shayne West), in the long-running medical drama “E.R.” (NBC, 1994-2009), and guest-starred in the 2005 episode “Manhattan Manhunt” of “CSI: New York” (CBS, 2004- ). Back on the big screen, Dennings appeared in the comedy misfire, “Big Momma’s House 2” (2006), co-starring with funnyman Martin Lawrence. She then played adorable Anton Yelchin’s love interest and Robert Downey Jr.’s daughter in the high school romantic comedy “Charlie Bartlett” (2007), about a young man (Yelchin) who becomes his school’s therapist.

A film about a Playboy bunny who becomes a sorority mother was the last thing Denning’s fans expected her to appear in, but she surprised everyone when she appeared in “The House Bunny” (2008) with fellow up-and-coming comediennes Anna Faris and Emma Stone. Still Dennings maintained her unique style and confidence playing Mona, one of the socially awkward co-eds under the care of Faris’ hilarious house bunny. “House Bunny” may have been a starring vehicle for Faris, but in the fall of 2008, Dennings got her turn as romantic comedy lead in “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist,” along with Michael Cera, fresh off of hits like “Juno” (2007) and “Superbad” (2007). Based on the 2006 novel by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” follows the title characters on a crazy night in New York’s Lower East Side. The genius casting of onscreen lovebirds Dennings and Cera wowed critics. Audiences also loved the natural chemistry between them, accomplished by a sense that they were simply portraying themselves as the cameras rolled. The two young Hollywood stars also redefined acting cool – that started with the likes of fellow Apatow friends and protégés Seth Rogen and James Franco. Throughout 2008, Dennings worked on several films for 2009 delivery, including “The Dream of the Romans” with Lauren Graham, the Robert Rodriguez-directed dark adventure “Shorts,” and “End Zone” with Josh Hartnett and Sam Rockwell. The hardworking and talented actress also received buzz from the online community, with the frank and comedic video blogs on her own YouTube channel, which was often shot from her own bedroom, where the off-beat actress proclaimed her affinity for everything from baby animals and her favorite cheeses.

* Also Credited As:
Katherine Litwack
* Born:
Katherine Litwack on June 13, 1986 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
* Job Titles:

* Mother: Ellie Litwack.

Significant Others
* Companion: Ira David Wood. Brother of actress, Evan Rachel Wood; dated in 2005; no longer together
* Companion: Matthew Gray Gubler. Began dating in 2007

* 2000 Made acting debut playing a 13-year-old Jewish-American princess in an episode of the HBO series, Sex and the City
* 2001 Cast as Bob Saget s daughter on the short-lived WB series, Raising Dad
* 2002 Moved to Los Angeles with her family to pursue acting full time
* 2004 Feature film debut as a rebellious pianist in Raise Your Voice opposite Hilary Duff
* 2005 Had a recurring role as Zoe Butler, a troubled eighth grader who sleeps with Dr. Ray (Shayne West) on NBC s ER
* 2005 Appeared in the independent feature Down In The Valley with Edward Norton and Evan Rachel Wood
* 2005 Breakthrough role was in the Judd Apatow-directed The 40-Year-Old Virgin playing the rebellious daughter of Catherine Keener’s character
* 2008 First romantic comedy lead in Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, along with Michael Cera
* 2008 Played Anton Yelchin’s love interest and Robert Downey Jr.’s daughter in the high school comedy Charlie Bartlett
* Began her career acting in commercials
* Will appear in the Robert Rodriguez-directed dark adventure Shorts (lensed 2008)


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