Miguel Arteta sometimes seemed to make it his life's work to transplant every mainstream comic star he could find to the fringes of indie cinema. Over the course of his career, he has plucked the likes of Jennifer Aniston (with whom he worked in "The Good Girl"), Michael Cera ("Youth in Revolt"), and Ed Helms ("Cedar Rapids") from their thrones at the head of contemporaneous pop culture and given them all weirder, darker, and more original material than they had yet to see. In directing big screen black comedies or offbeat television series, Arteta established himself as a unique voice living right on the ledge of the zeitgeist.
Miguel Arteta was born in 1965 in San Juan, Puerto Rico to a Peruvian father, who worked as a Chrysler automotive parts dealer, and a Spanish mother. Throughout Arteta's childhood, the family would relocate habitually throughout Latin America, with Arteta's tenure in the region ending after expulsion from a Costa Rican high school. Following his dismissal from the institution, Arteta moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where he resided with his sister and finished out his high school studies at the Cambridge School of Weston.
Arteta began a serious education in filmmaking through a documentary program offered by Harvard University, followed by full enrollment at the liberal arts college Wesleyan University in the bordering state of Connecticut. Among the collaborators Arteta would encounter at Wesleyan was Mike White, likely best known for his work with Jack Black in "School of Rock" (2004), or his short-lived but critically acclaimed drama "Enlightened" (HBO 2011-13). Arteta graduated from college in 1989.
Positive reception for his student film "Every Day Is a Beautiful Day," a short form musical, led to production work on films like "Q & A" (1990) and "Cousin Bobby" (1992). Still, it wouldn't be for another several years that Arteta would write and direct his first feature: the prostitution dramedy "Star Maps" (1997), a Sundance Film Festival debut.
After "Star Maps," Arteta teamed with former schoolmate White to direct and write, respectively, the dramatic comedy film "Chuck & Buck" (2000), which also starred White opposite Chris Weitz, himself best known as a writer/director of such films as "American Pie" (1999) and "About a Boy" (2002). Though critically well received, "Chuck & Buck" received minimal public attention; the next collaboration between Arteta and White, the piercingly bleak "The Good Girl" (2002), would receive a good deal more notice thanks to headlining stars Jennifer Aniston and Jake Gyllenhaal. The pitch-black picture marked a new vantage point of Aniston, whom everyone had become accustomed to viewing solely through the lens of her effervescent "Friends" (NBC 1994-2004) persona. This wouldn't be the last time that Arteta painted a new light for an established star.
The next few years of Arteta's career focused on television work, as he hopped from dramas like "Six Feet Under" (HBO 2001-05) to sitcoms like "The Office" (NBC 2005-2013) as an episode director. Eventually, he once again returned to the cinema, this time refurbishing the sweet and unassuming Michael Cera as a machismo-laden playboy with "Youth in Revolt" (2009). Arteta follow the Cera-led picture almost immediately with "Cedar Rapids" (2011), a tempered dramedy for popular comic actors Ed Helms and John C. Reilly.
Arteta then dove back into television, building up a prodigious résumé with episode credits on popular shows like "The Big C" (Showtime 2010-13), "New Girl" (Fox 2011-), and "American Horror Story" (FX 2011-). Arteta once more found a colleague in his old friend White, helming several episodes of the latter's low-rated but highly esteemed program "Enlightened." Additionally, Arteta made his mark in network television with "The New Normal" (NBC 2012-13) and "The Carrie Diaries" (The CW 2013-), and premium cable with "Nurse Jackie" (Showtime 2009-), "House of Lies" (Showtime 2012-), and "Getting On" (HBO 2013-).
Finally, Arteta found his way back to the big screen with his first family-friendly vehicle: a live-action adaptation of the children's book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day starring Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner.
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Short film, "Every Day is a Beautiful Day" premiered at Berlin Film Festival; also nominated for a student Academy Award
Was location coordinator assistant on Sidney Lumet's "Q & A"
Worked as a second camera assistant to Jonathan Demme on "Cousin Bobby"
Directed AFI thesis film "Lucky Peach"
Invited to participate in the Sundance Institute Writer's Lab; worked on a script "Ball and Chain" with Ron Nyswaner
Feature directorial and screenwriting debut, "Star Maps"
Second feature, the digitally shot "Chuck & Buck", scripted by and starring Mike White; premiered at the Sundance Film Festival
Reteamed with White on "The Good Girl," starring Jennifer Aniston
Directed "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Day."