BJ Novak:’ Mindy Kaling used to bully me on situated. She would lie to me’
After starring on the US Office, BJ Novak became equally known as a bestselling author and Mindy Kalings soulmate. Now the actor has invented Hollywoods favourite app. Elizabeth Day fulfils him
This time last year, BJ Novakwas already an acclaimed performer, stand-up comedian and author. He had starred in Hollywood movies( Inglourious Basterds , Saving Mr Banks ) and popular sitcoms( the American version of The Office , The Mindy Project ). His children book had been a New York Times bestseller for several months. His collecting of short narratives had been garlanded with praise. He was the worst kind of high-achiever, in that his achievements were myriad and in different fields. People were calling him a polymath and they werent even being sarcastic. Unlike James Franco, another performer who tried his hand at creative writing only to be roundly derided by the critics, Novak actually seemed to be good at the many things he was doing.
Was he ever worried about being called pretentious? Not pretentious, tells Novak when we meet on a sunny afternoon at Soho House, West Hollywood. For me, it was more[ the worry of] seeming distracted from my main run by a side project I was curiously passionate about. And side projects especially from celebrities dont tend to be successful either, they tend to be distractions.
Still, even all those side projects( and its worth pointing out that he also served as a writer on The Office and executive made The Mindy Project ) werent quite enough to sate Novaks aspirations. He wanted to be a millionaire tech entrepreneur, too. As a little child growing up in Boston, his earliest ambition was to be a real-estate developer. I believe I had some vague awareness of Donald Trump. Like, I want to put my name on buildings, I want to be rich and important and a businessman!
You dont get many Hollywood liberals admitting that Trump used to be their hero, I tell him.
But culturally, hes an icon, counters Novak. I believe a secret aspect of[ his popularity] is how familiar he is. Hes not a crazy human on the street, hes the crazy uncle thats been at your Thanksgiving for 30 fucking years! Hes been there for ever. So I believe people feel safe with him considering how outrageous he is as successful candidates. There is some subliminal comfort with him.