Will Arnett Biography

Television Actor, Film Actor, Actor (1970–)
Will Arnett is a comedic actor known for his wacky role as G.O.B. on TV's Arrested Development and his voice-over work in film.


After years of small TV roles, Will Arnett’s big break came in 2003 when he landed the part of G.O.B. on Arrested Development. The show became a critical hit with a devoted cult following, and Arnett received an Emmy nomination in 2006 for his work. In 2011, he debuted in another hit on television, the sitcom Up All Night with Christina Applegate.

Early Life

Actor. Born May 4, 1970, in Toronto, Canada, to Alexandra Arnett and E. James Arnett. The Arnett family enjoyed relative financial luxury; Will's father worked as corporate lawyer who later became president and CEO of Molson Breweries. Arnett has two older twin sisters and a younger brother. As a child he attended French-speaking schools and played hockey (he remains a fan of the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs).

A troublemaker in his youth, Arnett was sent at age 12 to an all-boys boarding school where, he recalled, "I was constantly caught smoking. You had to chop wood if you got caught smoking, so I was always chopping wood. It was a very outdoorsy school." He was asked to leave when he was 16. His mother suggested that he channel his energies into acting, and as a teenager he began auditioning for commercials in Toronto. After graduating from high school and completing a semester at Concordia University in Montreal, Will Arnett dropped out of school and, in 1990, moved to New York City to pursue a career as a dramatic actor.

Arnett struggled professionally for the next decade, interspersing bit parts (in one particular career highlight at the time, he played a suitor addicted to public sex on Sex and the City) with voice-over work and pilots for doomed sitcoms. It was a frustrating period for Arnett, who became depressed and started abusing alcohol. An epiphany in the summer of 2000 ended his funk: "I realized that I wasn't going anywhere, and that I needed to kind of get my life on track," he said. "Laid the bottle down and got to work."

Breakout Role

Six months later, he began dating comedian Amy Poehler. Arnett was briefly married to actress Penelope Ann Miller from 1994 and 1995, and lived with actress Missy Yager for four years after that. But Poehler, he said, was "the best thing that's ever happened to me." The couple married in 2003. "I hate to pose in photos with him," the 5-feet 2-inch Poehler has said of her 6-feet 2-inch husband. "It looks like he's taking his niece to the Shrek premiere."

Arnett moved from Los Angeles back to New York after Poehler was hired by sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live and did a series of television guest spots: as adancer on Will and Grace, a pedophilic travel agent on Law & Order, and an FBI agent on The Sopranos. His big break came in 2003, when he was asked to audition for the part of G.O.B.—pronounced "Jobe"—on a new show called Arrested Development. Arnett initially turned down the job—he had been fired from his last pilot and had sworn them off completely. His agent insisted, however, and Arnett traveled to L.A. to read for the role with Jason Bateman, David Cross and the rest of the ensemble cast. "And right from moment one, it just felt really right," Arnett said.

Arrested Development aired for three seasons on Fox, becoming a critical hit with a fanatically devoted cult following. Arnett received an Emmy nomination in 2006 for his portrayal of G.O.B., a washed-up magician whose arrogance outstripped his intellect. The show always struggled to reach a large mainstream audience, however, and was canceled in 2006.

Recent Projects

Following his iconic role on Arrested Development, Arnett landed starring parts in comic movies like Let's Go to Prison, Blades of Glory (in which he and Poehler played a brother-sister skating pair) and Semi-Pro with Will Ferrell. He was nominated for an Emmy for his guest spot as a scheming television executive on the sitcom 30 Rock. Arnett also leant his distinctive gravelly voice to voice-over work in Monsters vs. Aliens and the sitcom Sit Down, Shut Up.

In 2011, Arnett returned to series television with Up All Night. He and actress Christina Applegate play new parents on this popular sitcom. Arnett is also expected to reprise his most famous role in Arrested Development. A fourth season of the show is in development and will be available through Netflix in 2013.

Personal Life

In September 2012, Arnett and Poehler announced plans to divorce after nine years together. The couple has two children, sons Archie and Abel.

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