Canadian actor Michael Cera made his first major impact on American comedy audiences with his role as teenager George Michael Bluth who, at first blush, seemed the most normal of the terminally dysfunctional Bluth clan, on the cult TV comedy "Arrested Development" (Fox, 2003-06). As the series unfolded, however, his character's burning and inappropriate crush on his own cousin proved the actor's willingness to explore the most uncomfortable comic situations imaginable, and paved the way for future film roles as painfully awkward types. Cera's first leading film role was the broad comedy "Superbad" (2007), which paired him to great success with Jonah Hill as a pair of teenage outcasts. Following major critical kudos for the surprising indie breakout "Juno" (2007), Cera had officially arrived as a new kind of dry-witted comic lead. He further cemented his growing reputation as a Gen-Y Woody Allen in projects like "Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist" (2008), although such disappointments as "Year One" (2009) and "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" (2010) took some of the shine off his glowing résumé. His return to "Arrested Development" (Netflix, 2013- ), however, gave fans of the actor cause to celebrate and portended a second act to his still-young career. Clearly more than a comedic flash-in-the-pan, Cera was a talent whose true range had yet to be explored in any number of mediums and genres.
Cera was born in Brampton, Ontario, Canada, on June 7, 1988. He developed an interest in performing at an early age, making his television debut in a commercial for a Canadian fast food chain. After appearing in several more spots, he graduated to roles in Canadian children's television, notably as the voice of Little Gizmo on the Emmy-winning animated series, "Rolie Polie Olie" (Playhouse Disney, 1998- 2003). At age 12, he was cast as a series regular on the live-action comedy, "I Was a Sixth Grade Alien" (YTV/ABC Family, 1999-2001) and continued to work steadily in television as a voice actor on animated fare like "The Berenstain Bears (PBS, 2003-04) and "Braceface" (Fox Family/ABC Family, 2001-03). The baby-faced actor moved on to the big screen, playing the 10-year-old version of Noah Emmerich's character in the sci-fi thriller "Frequency" (2000) and snared a starring role in "Ultimate G's" (2000), the soaring 3-D spectacle from Imax.
After portraying the mannered son of American political radical Abbie Hoffman in the biopic "Steal This Movie" (2000), Cera had a small role as the pre-teen, sexually precocious version of future game show king Chuck Barris (Sam Rockwell) in "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" (2002), directed by George Clooney. Then Cera received the pilot script for producer Mitchell Hurwitz's offbeat situation comedy, "Arrested Development." The actor flew to Hollywood to audition for the role of George Michael, the son of the long-suffering head of the Bluth household, Michael (Jason Bateman), and along with Alia Shawkat (who played his cousin Maeby), was the first actor cast for the series. Despite a formidable list of comic talent in the cast, including Bateman, David Cross, Jeffrey Tambor and Jessica Walter, Cera more than held his own on the show; most notably in uncomfortable family-bonding moments with his father and even more unsettling encounters with his cousin, upon whom he harbored a crush.
The show received almost unanimous critical acclaim and numerous awards, including six Emmys and two Screen Actors' Guild Awards, which Cera shared with his cast mates. The network, however, was not satisfied with the ratings, and even when the show's cancellation led to a highly publicized uproar from fans that appreciated "smarter" television, suggestions that the show would move to another network never materialized and it left the airwaves permanently in 2006. During the show's short lifetime, Cera had made a formidable impression as a young comic talent, and he relished the new opportunities that arrived in its wake, such as guest voice spots on the Adult Swim animated series "Tom Goes to the Mayor" (2004-06) and "Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!" (2007-10).
Proving to have boundless creativity and talent beyond his dry-witted screen persona, Cera branched into writing and directing short comedy for the Internet in 2006, starting with "Impossible is the Opposite of Possible" (2006), a parody of the popular "Impossible is Nothing" video resume that he directed for the online edition of McSweeney's magazine. He later partnered with actor Clark Duke for more comic videos on the pair's web site, clarkandmichael.com. The chemistry between the brash Duke and Cera's jittery, unsteady humor caught the attention of CBS, which tapped them to develop a show for its Internet channel, Innertube. The series, "Clark and Michael" (2007) followed fictionalized versions of the two performers as they attempted (and mostly failed) to launch their own television series. Duke and Cera wrote and directed the program, with Cera tapping several of his "Arrested" co-stars to make appearances on the show, including producer Hurwitz and David Cross, as well as "alternative" comics like Patton Oswalt and Andy Richter.
That same year, Cera landed his first major screen role, co-starring with Jonah Hill in "Superbad" (2007), a comedy about two codependent high school friends who attempt to reverse a lifetime of social awkwardness over the course of a single night. The film was a certified blockbuster and established Cera's position as a member of an elite Hollywood comedy circle that included many of the comic talents orbiting around Judd Apatow, the film's executive producer. However, Cera's association with the Apatow clan began prior to "Superbad," as seen in a widely circulated video clip in which he parodied the infamous David O. Russell/Lily Tomlin feud on the set of "I Heart Huckabees" (2005). In the improvised clip, Cera played a hot-tempered version of himself, clashing with Apatow over line deliveries prior to being "fired" from Rogen's role on "Knocked Up." The much-downloaded clip was so believable many thought it was an actual diva tantrum caught on tape.
Only a month after, Cera proved a successful comic headliner at mainstream theaters when he co-starred as the best friend and accidental impregnator of high school best friend Ellen Page in "Juno" (2007), a low budget sleeper hit. Full of hip pop culture references and populated by wise-cracking suburban cynics, the film countered its heavy-handed attempts at being "alternative" with unexpectedly genuine heart and reflective performances from Cera and Page. In addition to earning a staggering $200 million dollars on a $6.5 million dollar production budget, the film earned four Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director (Jason Reitman), Best Actress (Page), and Best Screenplay. For his role, Cera earned a nomination from the Canadian Comedy Awards. Cera stayed close to "hipster" comedy with his follow-up, "Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist" (2008), a music-drenched romance about a whirlwind downtown Manhattan evening between soulmates that met with mostly positive reviews and respectable art house earnings.
While Cera had definitely "arrived" in Hollywood, he remained devoted to smaller comedy projects, appearing in the ensemble of "Extreme Movie" (2008), a low budget offering of sex-themed comedy sketches written by "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ) talents Will Forte and Andy Samberg. He also had a recurring role on the Internet-only medical drama satire, "Children's Hospital," and portrayed president Alexander Hamilton in a short comedy film retelling of that president's infamous gun duel with Aaron Burr. In early 2009, Cera's co-starring role in "Paper Heart," a mockumentary in which he served as the object of desire of comic actress Charlyne Yi, was screened at the Sundance Film Festival where Yi was honored with the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award. Cera put himself in front of a broader audience again with "Year One" (2009), a comedy from Harold Ramis that teamed Cera with Jack Black as a pair of prehistoric buddies on an epic journey through the ancient world in search of meaning and girls.
The same year Cera returned to high school to play the lead in Miguel Arteta's adaptation of the C.D. Payne novel, "Youth in Revolt" (2009), about a cynical 16-year-old's pursuit of love. Cera was again fighting for love when he starred as slacker musician Scott Pilgrim in the big screen version of the comic book series "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" (2009). While fans of the graphic novel and the majority of critics were smitten with the stylistic "Scott Pilgrim," it fell far short of studio expectations and did little to regain the momentum Cera had enjoyed since "Superbad." After a two-year period spent largely under the radar, the actor began to re-emerge with a brief turn in the indie drama "The End of Love" (2012) and voice work in an episode of "The Simpsons" (Fox, 1989- ). Far more exciting for many, however, was the news of the long-rumored resurrection of "Arrested Development" (Netflix, 2013- ) for a fourth season to be aired on Netflix's live-streaming application. Returning with Cera were original cast members Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, Jessica Walter, Portia de Rossi and Jeffrey Tambor, prompting devotees of the dysfunctional Bluth dynasty to once again hold out hope for a feature-film adaptation.
Meanwhile, other projects featuring Cera surfaced, including the apocalyptic comedy "This Is the End" (2013), which found the actor playing a very fictionalized version of himself, and the drug-fueled indie film "Crystal Fairy" (2013). Cera also joined the revolving cast of the online reality-TV parody "Burning Love" (2012-14), portraying a low-key romance-seeker named Wally.
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Voiced Little Gizmo on the animated series "Rolie Polie Olie" (Disney Channel)
Was a series regular on the live-action comedy "I Was a Sixth Grade Alien" (ABC Family)
Portrayed the son of American political radical Abbie Hoffman in the biopic "Steal This Movie"
Had a starring role in the Imax movie "Ultimate G's"
Lent his voice to Alicia Silverstone's animated series "Braceface" (Fox Family/ABC Family)
Played the young Chuck Barris in "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind"
Voiced Brother Bear in "The Berenstain Bears" (PBS) animated series
Had his breakout role as George Michael Bluth in the Fox series "Arrested Development"
Made writing and directing debut with "Impossible is the Opposite of Possible," a parody of the popular "Impossible is Nothing" video resume that he directed for the online edition of <i>McSweeney's</i> magazine
Signed a deal with CBS Television to write, produce, direct, and act in a short-form comedy series entitled "Clark and Michael"
Co-starred with Jonah Hill in "Superbad," written by fellow Canadians, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg
Played an awkward teenager who unexpectedly impregnates his long time friend (Ellen Page) in Jason Reitman's "Juno"
Co-starred in the teen romance "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist"
Appeared with then girlfriend, Charlyne Yi, in "Paper Heart"; film was written and produced by Yi
Co-starred with Jack Black in the biblical comedy "Year One"; directed by Harold Ramis
Played a cynical, sex-obsessed 16-year-old in the film adaptation of C.D. Payne's "Youth in Revolt"
Played the title role in feature adaptation of "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World," based on Bryan Lee O'Malley's comic book series
Returned for the revitalized "Arrested Development" series
Appeared on the online comedy "Burning Love"
Appeared in holiday special "A Very Murray Christmas"
Co-starred on the ensemble comedy series "Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp"
Voiced Barry in adult animated comedy "Sausage Party"
Voiced Robin in "The LEGO Batman Movie"
Had a cameo as Wally Brando, the son of Andy and Lucy, in "Twin Peaks: The Return"
Was cast in Aaron Sorkin's "Molly's Game"
Returned yet again to play George-Michael Bluth on "Arrested Development"
Cast alongside Julianne Moore and Sean Astin in romantic drama "Gloria Bell"