Chris O'Dowd

  • BIOGRAPHY

"Ten years ago, I thought by now I'd be a reasonable jobbing actor going from The Bill to Casualty, or I'd have given up and found out what I was supposed to do with my life. But this is better," says Chris O'Dowd.

That's something of understatement from the Irish comedian and actor, who is best for his part in the global-success story Bridesmaids.

He has also lent his charisma to other successful movies including The Boat that Rocked, How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, Dinner for Schmucks, Friends with Kids, The Sapphires and Judd Apatow's This is 40.

Born on 9 October 1979 in Roscommon, Ireland, the comedian was the youngest of five children. With three older sisters who were constantly teasing him as a child he started using comedy as a defence mechanism.

The girls used to put make up on him while he was asleep and then wake him up late for school so that he would arrive with a bit of blusher on and smoky eyes. Although it sounds like he was given a tough time Chris said that "laughing was a big part of [his] family life".

The Bridesmaids star studied politics and sociology in University College Dublin but didn’t finish his degree. Instead he moved to London and began attending the London Academy of Music, Drama and Arts.

"The politics part of it was fine, but I was doing sociology as well and I could never bring myself to find an interest in it", he said.

In 2006 Chris landed a role in Channel 4's comedy show The IT Crowd, which was written by the creator of Father Ted, Graham Linehan, and became an instant success. Chris knew that this was the chance he had been waiting for and accepted the role instantly.

"Father Ted was so big, especially in Ireland, I thought, wow, the new Graham Linehan! This is going to be huge!"

He played geeky IT whiz Roy Trenneman whose answer to everything was "Have you tried turning it on and off again?" The series won a BAFTA for the Best Sitcom in 2009.

Chris saw his idol, director Judd Apatow, backstage at a comedy show in LA and a few months later auditioned for Bridesmaids, which Judd was producing. "I honestly went to this audition thinking, there is no way I'll get this. I knew other people were auditioning who I'd lost out to before."

Chris was cast as the leading man Nathan Rhodes and starred alongside comediennes Kristen Wig and Maya Rudolph. The role propelled him to Hollywood stardom and he suddenly gained heartthrob status.

The 6ft 4in actor admits that he was "all nose and lips" when he was younger and says the idea of women finding him attractive is slightly ridiculous to him.

"I think there's something in the fact that it's hard to be good looking and funny. You have to have an oddball quality; people have to sympathise with you to find you funny."

The handsome Irishman met his wife, TV presenter Dawn Porter, at an LA party to celebrate her 30th birthday in January 2009.

"I remember his big smiling face, and his big long arms wrapping around me and introducing himself in a hot Irish accent, and then he was gone" said Dawn. "And I spent the rest of the night thinking 'where did that man go?'"

The couple married in December 2011 in a three-day celebration they called "Wedfest".

The wedding was reportedly very laid back with Chris announcing the news on Twitter with a picture of the two of them in matching onsies alongside the message "Just Married".

Dawn wrote about the wedding "Twas a three day love fest. Sure, I have an amazing husband, but I also have the most smashing pals imaginable."

Chris and Dawn divide their time between their house in West LA and their home in Bermondsey, south London where Dawn's dog Potato and her cat Lilu live. The Irish actor also put a bid on a castle in Ireland where his ancestors used to live in the 17th century.

"It’s beautiful. Irish castles aren’t the kind of things that you think of when you think of castles. It’s more of a fortress, more of a big pile of bricks. It’s not ornate in any way."

Chris has said that he can see him and Dawn settling down there in the future. "[Oliver] Cromwell took it, and I'm going to take it back. It just feels right".
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