Why Hollywood Won't Cast Kat Dennings Anymore

Kat Dennings has been a welcome part of film and television for years. After breaking through with memorable guest-star parts on TV shows such as Sex and the City and CSI, Dennings hit the big screen with prominent roles in critical and commercial hits, including The 40-Year-Old Virgin, The House Bunny, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, and the first two Thor movies.

But Dennings is certainly best known for her six-year run in a role that perfectly suited her comic gifts and big personality: Max Black, the sarcastic and wisecracking diner waitress and cupcake baker on CBS' 2 Broke Girls. That huge role on a huge show, plus her prominent relationship with musician Josh Groban, kept Dennings on the pop culture radar for years. But then, she just kind of disappeared. 

It feels like Hollywood won't cast Kat Dennings anymore. Why isn't she around as much as she used to be? We'll serve up a helping of reasons and tell you what she's whipping up for her future.

2 Broke Girls made her anything but broke

A steady gig means a steady paycheck, and the equivalent for actors is a lead role on a network sitcom. Kat Dennings portrayed Max Black on CBS' 2 Broke Girls for six seasons. Not only did she get a hefty paycheck each week for delivering withering put-downs and saucy double entendres, but she'll also reap the financial benefits of starring on that hit sitcom for, well, forever. 

2 Broke Girls was so successful during its initial season that in 2012, producers sold the show's rerun package into syndication in what was, at the time, the most lucrative deal ever. For the right to air 2 Broke Girls reruns ad infinitum, TBS paid $1.7 million per episode. With 138 episodes in all, that's hundreds of millions of dollars, and Dennings gets a cut as both a star and producer. 

Basically, if Kat Dennings hasn't worked much lately, it's because she hasn't had to — she's got plenty of cash to pay the bills.

Her starring vehicle made an early exit

In May 2017, a month after 2 Broke Girls aired its sixth-season finale, CBS canceled the series. The last episode wasn't intended to be a series finale, but it offered up enough closure (e.g. Max gets engaged) that it still felt like an adequate goodbye for viewers. Dennings didn't seem too upset about getting laid off, or at least she didn't on social media. "We are so proud of our time on 2 Broke Girls and of all the things this experience has given us, the most treasured is our lifelong friendship." Dennings said in a joint statement with co-star Beth Behrs. 

Six years is a long time to play one character. Also, six years is a long time to submit to the grueling rigors of starring on a three-camera network TV sitcom that shot more than 20 episodes a year. Perhaps Dennings was fine with the cancellation because it meant she'd get a chance to catch her breath.

She's typecast a couple of ways over

Apart from a slew of recurring roles, TV parts, and big-time movie gigs, Dennings has had two distinct and dominant career eras. First, she had her "queen of cool indie movies" phase, and then she had her 2 Broke Girls era. In the former, she starred in films such as Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, a late 2000s zeitgeist-capturing film in which she and fellow millennial icon Michael Cera play a couple of indie rock-loving teens who come to love each other as well. In the latter phase, she plays Max — the same character week in and week out for six seasons. 

A successful acting career can be both a blessing and a curse: Dennings is so closely associated with cool, hip girls and sarcastic Broke girls, respectively, that she could find herself typecast a couple of ways over. Agents and directors might not be able to envision her in other roles.

She endured a big breakup

For two years, Kat Dennings was one-half of one of Hollywood's most unfairly attractive but also charming power couples. 

Beth Behrs set up her 2 Broke Girls co-star with the deep-voiced pop-opera singer Josh Groban in 2014. "[Behr's] always talked about how great he is and they've been friends for years, and she thought we were both, you know, nerds," Dennings said on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Shortly thereafter, they made the relationship official by appearing together at a charity event: the Carousel of Hope Ball. "I'm very lucky my girlfriend has joined me tonight," Groban told Entertainment Tonight. "It's her first time hearing me sing." 

Dennings and Groban split in 2016, right before the final season of 2 Broke Girls hit the air. A source told E! News the breakup was "mutual" and "they are still friends" and all that other stuff couples say when they call it quits. At the time of this writing, Dennings hasn't been linked to anyone new, so maybe she's spending some time just being on her own and possibly tending to a broken heart.

Thor ditched her

In terms of sheer big-screen spectacle and box office returns, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the place to be. Getting cast in one of these superhero spectaculars can launch an actor or actress to super-stardom. Cases in point: Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy), Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther), and Chris Hemsworth (Thor). 

Conversely, being in a few MCU entries and then suddenly not being in them anymore, particularly as the franchise builds up to the mega-team-up Infinity War movies, just can't be good for an actor's career. Case in point: Kat Dennings portrays Darcy Lewis in Thor and Thor: The Dark World. Darcy is the assistant, intern, and friend to Natalie Portman's Dr. Jane Foster, but Lucy is nowhere to be seen in Thor: Ragnarok or the Avengers movies. Ouch. Cinemablend asked Raganarok screenwriter Eric Pearson if he had considered including Darcy, and he said he hadn't. Double ouch.

She's been spending time with 'friends'

Dennings has been gone from TV or a while, but if all goes according to plan, the 2 Broke Girls star  may reappear in a big way with Friendsgiving, another project about strong and unique female friendship. In the first feature written and directed by actress Nicol Paone, Dennings helps lead an almost entirely female ensemble cast that also includes heavy-hitters such as Malin Akerman (Billions), Chelsea Peretti (Brooklyn Nine-Nine), Aisha Tyler, Margaret Cho, Fortune Feimster (The Mindy Project), Wanda Sykes, and Dr. Quinn herself — Jane Seymour. 

The plot: Akerman plays a just divorced actress, and Dennings is her just-been-dumped best friend. Together, the two of them bring together their friends (along with various weirdos) for a decidedly nontraditional Thanksgiving feast. Friendsgiving could be a big comeback for Dennings, not to mention her first major big-screen work in a decade.

She's a true puppet master

Actors aren't merely empty vessels that exist to deliver the words and thoughts of writers. They are artists who interpret that dialogue and imbue it with humanity. As such, they yearn to be recognized for their most personal work ... or at least the puppet show they did as a lark.

In a 2018 interview with The AV Club, Dennings said the one thing she's done that "didn't get the attention it deserved" was a handmade puppet show created as a DVD extra for her 2008 film, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. "The director asked me if I wanted to make something for the special features, and I made this insanely elaborate puppet show of the film with paper dolls that I made myself, and I taped it on my little camera," she said. IT was "so stupid and cute" and "really lo-fi," but Dennings is very proud of this labor of love and, well, labor. "It took me a week to make all of the props," she said. "I made all the characters out of paper, and I drew them and colored them in and put glitter on them." She also took some creative license. In her version of Nick and Nora, every scene ends with the characters getting eaten by a bear. 

Maybe we haven't seen her lately because she's working on another puppet project? (Hey, we said maybe.)

She never showed her 'face'

In November 2017, Dennings was cast in a Hulu pilot called Dollface. Created by relative newcomer Jordan Weiss, Dennings plays a woman who gets dumped by her boyfriend of many years, forcing her to reestablish all the friendships she abandoned along the way. Dollface has a lot in common with 2 Broke Girls. Like Dennings's old show, the new one explores the joys, pains, and complexities of female friendships. Unlike Dennings' old show, it's on a streaming service (instead of a terrestrial broadcast network,) it's a single-camera and laugh-track-free joint, and she's the sole headlining star instead of part of a duo. Veep producer and occasional director Stephanie Laing shot the pilot, and Margot Robbie produced, so Dollface looked to have the solid pedigree necessary to return Kat Dennings to the top of the TV pack. 

Or maybe not. In February 2018, The Hollywood Reporter noted Dollface was "still in contention" at Hulu. There's been no progress on the project for months, so it seems as if this particular comeback vehicle may be a non-starter.

How may Kat Dennings hate you?

Less than a year since the end of 2 Broke Girls, Kat Dennings was already back in the swing of things, looking for the perfect television comeback project. In February 2018, The Hollywood Reporter claimed Dennings was among the most in-demand actors during TV's annual pilot season. 

The actress decided on a single-camera workplace comedy for ABC called How May We Hate You. Based on Anna Drezen and Todd Dakotah Briscoe's book How May We Hate You? Notes from the Concierge Desk, Dennings was cast as Ellie, a "guest services specialist who is forced to wear a plastic smile" as she deals with fussy guests at a high-end resort. Brooklyn Nine-Nine writer Justin Noble adapted the book for TV, and Will Gluck of Easy A directed the pilot, but despite all that talent on board, How May We Hate You did not make it to ABC's 2018-19 schedule

Listen closely, she's out there

In the time since 2 Broke Girls finished, Dennings has taken on the occasional acting job, primarily voiceover work, one-off gigs, and straight-up larks. 

Listen closely, and you'll spot her unique voice in lots of stuff. In a futuristic sequence on a December 2017 episode of The Simpsons, Dennings plays Valerie, Lisa Simpson's Harvard roommate and a fellow jazz aficionado. She also voices a role on Big Mouth, Netflix's profane and hilarious puberty cartoon; Dennings plays Leah, the teenage sister of main character Nick Birch (co-creator Nick Kroll). Along with John Cena, Dennings stars in the YouTube Red animated series Dallas and Robo, which is about a space trucker named Dallas (Dennings) and her "warrior-poet" companion, Robo (Cena). 

Dennings has also appeared in the intoxicated educational fun of Comedy Central's Drunk History as a re-enactor. She's been on the show three times, including a gig portraying Canadian suffragette Gertrude Harding.