The Untold Truth Of B.J. Novak

B.J. Novak has pretty much done it all. Not only did he play a major role in one of the most beloved sitcoms of all time, "The Office," but he also started working as a writer for the series when he was just 24 years old. He has a myriad of talents, which doesn't come as a huge surprise because he was born into a family of creatives. According to Simon & Schuster, his father, William Novak, is a renowned author. He has worked in the past as a ghostwriter for several well-known politicians, athletes, and entertainers, including Magic Johnson, Nancy Reagan, and Tip O'Neill. And although the younger Novak is a familiar face in movies and TV, he feels more at home as a writer

In addition to writing about the eccentric co-workers at Dunder Mifflin, B.J. has crafted popular children's books and feature-length films. In fact, the well-received 2022 movie "Vengeance" marked his directorial debut, starring the likes of John Mayer, Dove Cameron, Ashton Kutcher, Issa Rae, and B.J. Novak himself (via IndieWire). "I think I am very proud of being associated with quality things," he previously told The Guardian. "So if I were massively famous for doing massively beloved things, yeah, that sounds great. I think the pickiness is really just about ... I want to be in cool things."

B.J. Novak has a fascinating life story, so let's waste no time here. Without further ado, here are the most interesting facts about "The Office" alum.

B.J. Novak dreamed of growing up to be Donald Trump

While most kids dream of growing up to become astronauts or ballerinas, B.J. Novak's life mission was to be the next Donald Trump. Of course, in Novak's childhood, he had no idea that the man would eventually become one of the most controversial presidents of the United States. In his 2016 interview with The Guardian, the writer-actor explained that he wanted to become a real-estate developer in his youth, noting, "I think 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!'"

Although Novak has yet to become the next POTUS, he does have his own political goals — including running for mayor of Los Angeles at some point. The star may have been born an East coaster, but his deep admiration for Los Angeles is what drives him to want to improve the city. "I'm from Boston, but I live in the Hollywood Hills," he spilled to the Independent in 2015. "I've come to love the local side of LA much more than the Hollywood side. ... I'm not hugely political, I just love my town." While Novak has yet to make his mayoral bid, as of this writing, he did further emphasize this ambition while appearing on the "You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes" podcast in 2020.

He invented a successful list-making app

Much like his character Ryan Howard on "The Office," B.J. Novak also has a penchant for creating mobile apps ... only in real life, he didn't steal the idea from his girlfriend like he did on the hit series. (At least, we hope not.) According to Entertainment Weekly, The List App — which dropped in 2015 — was designed for people who love making lists. But for this particular app, you also got to check out the various lists made by your besties, as well as your favorite celebs.

According to the app itself, the intent was to "share your experiences, opinions, and expertise and enjoy lists from friends and the leading voices in TV & film, music, food, sports, news, fashion, comedy and more in a vibrant and positive community." Several celebrities who enjoyed making their own lists on the app included Novak's bestie, Mindy Kaling, as well as the likes of Snoop Dogg and Lena Dunham (via The Guardian). And really, who wouldn't want to sneak a peek at Snoop's lists?

Although Vox reported that the app shut down a couple years into its launch, this didn't stop Novak from pursuing new ideas. In 2018, he and his partners invented a new app called Kiyo, which branded itself as a picture-sharing social media platform. Yet unfortunately, it also shut down just weeks after its release. Hopefully, the third time's a charm?

B.J. Novak's a New York Times bestselling author

B.J. Novak not only had a handful of Emmy nominations thrown his way for writing on "The Office," he's also climbed to the very top of The New York Times bestsellers list. His 2014 children's book, "The Book with No Pictures," sold 2 million copies internationally and was on the bestseller list for well over two years, according to Publishers Weekly. Yet his book is more than just mere entertainment for children. According to Novak, it is also a way to give them a sense of empowerment.

"The point — and the appeal — of 'The Book with No Pictures' is largely about giving kids power over their parents who are reading the story aloud — and listening to them say things like 'BooBoo Butt' against their will," explained Novak. "To children, words are too often about authority being imposed on them — words come to them as rules and explanations. The idea that words can be something they can use for their own power is exciting — and that's the message I want to send them." 

These silly expressions usually end with the kids laughing to the point of tears, as seen in this adorable video from Waterstones. Novak also intentionally made this children's book without any pictures so kids can feel less intimidated when transitioning into novels that don't contain massive images dominating the page as they grow older. This way, as he explained to Entertainment Weekly, it becomes somewhat of a "gateway drug to literature." Five years later, Novak released the fill-in-the-blanks sequel, "My Book with No Pictures."

He felt 'insecure' and 'nervous' while working on The Office

Looking back, B.J. Novak is forever grateful that he got to work on one of the most successful television shows to ever air. Just one look at his IMDB page will show all his accolades for the series. But while he was actually working on "The Office" alongside comedic giants like Steve Carell, he felt terrified that he could never deliver material that was good enough for the hit show. Novak explained his discontent while working on the show while speaking with Dax Shepard on the "Armchair Expert" podcast. 

"At the time, I was just so insecure, nervous," Novak told Shepard in the 2021 interview, explaining that he would often think throughout the show's run, "How long is this gonna last? Am I gonna get any lines in the next episode? Is my script gonna get rewritten? Am I gonna get fired? What happens when this show is canceled? Am I making the most of this moment?"

He went on to express regret over how he could never simply enjoy the ride while it lasted, admitting, "I was so competitive and career-obsessed and self-obsessed. ... I didn't just relax and just let myself be one with 'The Office.'" Novak continued, "I was still able to do some good work and enjoy some good times, but not nearly as much." Eventually, Novak decided to leave the series prior to its Season 9 conclusion, following in the footsteps of Carell and Mindy Kaling.

B.J. Novak's belief that 'everybody is smart'

Ever since childhood, B.J. Novak has been known to be intelligent and innovative. "I remember my mum coming into my bedroom when I was lying awake one night and she asked what I was thinking of," he recalled to The Guardian. "And I was telling her about the inventions I would invent and she said, 'Can't you ever just think stupid thoughts?'"

But just because the Harvard-educated star is one smart cookie, that doesn't mean he looks down on your average joe's level of intelligence. In fact, Novak possesses a pretty profound belief when it comes to the uniqueness of intellect. While sitting down with Dax Shepard on the "Armchair Expert" podcast, the star talked about how people might assume he thinks he's superior to others because he is an Ivy League graduate and is known to be incredibly cerebral, as Shepard put it — but in actuality, Novak insisted that he isn't this way at all and that this assumption triggers an emotional reaction within him.

"Intelligence is thought to be using big words well, which I can do," Novak said, "and writing them well in class, and looking serious as you say them. And so, I get to be considered intelligent ... and meanwhile, [there] all these people that are so smart in ways that are just not fairly measured." He added, "I think everybody is smart."

He graduated from high school with co-star John Krasinski

Despite Ryan Howard and Jim Halpert not liking or respecting one another on "The Office," B.J. Novak and John Krasinski have a much more civil relationship in real life. In fact, these two had been crossing paths for ages before rising to fame.

While appearing on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" in 2014, Novak spilled that he and his co-star actually went to the same high school, Newton South in Massachusetts, and graduated in the same class in 1997. But it turns out they go even further back than that, as Novak revealed to DeGeneres that he was also on the same little league baseball team as the future "A Quiet Place" star: his family even kept a team picture in their living room. As Novak put it, "John Krasinski and I have known each other our whole lives in the weirdest, most coincidental way."

According to a 2014 Reddit AMA, Novak noted that he was also in the seniors' school play alongside Krasinski. "He was incredibly talented and the show was a lot of fun, but no, it never occurred to me that anyone would do anything together after high school," he wrote. "Whoever imagines that?" Novak went on to joke, "I sometimes think that if I were to wake up and it turned out 'The Office' was all a dream, the fact that John Krasinski was in it with me would be what I'd realize afterward should have been the obvious tip-off."

Ryan and Kelly are based on B.J. Novak and Mindy Kaling

Ryan Howard and Kelly Kapoor are the on-again, off-again couple at Dunder Mifflin who are constantly bickering one moment and then making out the next. But even some of the biggest fans of "The Office" have no idea that their relationship on the show is a parody of the actors' real-life relationship, which began while working as young writers-actors on the series. Both Mindy Kaling and B.J. Novak have spoken about how their own on-and-off romance in the mid-2000s is pretty much a less exaggerated version of their on-screen dynamic.

"We were never really dating, we were never really not dating," Novak explained to Vulture in 2012. "We didn't know. No one knew. All you'd know for sure as that you'd always find one of us next to the other, even if we weren't getting along." For her part, Kaling later told InStyle in 2015 (via Insider), "I will freely admit: My relationship with B.J. Novak is weird as hell." She added, "He is not my boyfriend, but he is not my best friend. I guess you could describe our relationship as a 'romantically charged camaraderie with loud arguments,' but I don't think Facebook would accept this as a new status."

Okay, that doesn't exactly clear things up, but these two are still as close as ever. In fact, in a 2019 interview with Good Housekeeping, "The Mindy Project" creator and star said that Novak was "so much more like family now than a platonic friend."  

He's the godfather of Mindy Kaling's children

When Mindy Kaling said B.J. Novak is like family to her, she wasn't just speaking figuratively. As it turns out, Novak is the godfather to her children and, perhaps unsurprisingly, has a close relationship with them. She revealed the news to Good Housekeeping in 2019, saying, "He comes over like once a week. Sometimes he'll come over just to hang out with [them]."

Fans of this admittedly shippable duo may already know that Kaling welcomed a baby girl named Katherine into the world back in 2017, and in 2020, she gave birth to a son named Spencer, per Us Weekly. Although she likes to keep her personal life out of the public eye — especially when it comes to her children, very rarely sharing snapshots of them on social media and even remaining mum on the identity of her kids' father — she has opened up about her adoration for motherhood. Speaking with Yahoo! Life in January 2022, the mom-of-two expressed, "More than writing and creating shows, my great dream in life was to become a mom, because of my relationship with my mom."

As for Novak, he too has had big hopes of becoming a father, as he revealed to The Guardian, but he hasn't found the right partner just yet.

B.J. Novak considers himself more of a writer than an actor

Although B.J. Novak is recognized on the street for his acting work in well-known movies and TV shows, he doesn't really classify himself as much of an actor. In fact, as previously stated, he once revealed to The Guardian how he considers himself much more of a writer. 

The penchant for writing runs in the family — in addition to authoring novels and memoirs, did you know that dad William Novak was also co-editor on "The Big Book of Jewish Humor"? — but while sitting down with Dax Shepard on the "Armchair Expert" podcast, B.J. revealed that it was actually Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction" that ultimately inspired him to become a writer. When he had the opportunity to appear in one of the filmmaker's most highly rated films, 2009's "Inglourious Basterds," it was a dream come true, as well as a great learning opportunity, for B.J. to work with his cinematic hero.

To prepare for the role, "The Office" alum was required to gain muscle. In an interview with Esquire at the time, B.J. Novak revealed that he actually incorporated his preparation to get fit into his most popular acting and writing gig. "In the weeks leading up to filming, I did hundreds of push-ups a day in the writers' room of 'The Office,'" he told the magazine. "We worked it into an episode, with my character doing push-ups to try and impress Kelly."

What is The Office alum's net worth?

B.J. Novak has been in the entertainment business for nearly two decades, as of this writing. He has loads of successful projects under his belt, from "The Office" to his wildly acclaimed bestselling novels. Considering all of the work he has done onscreen and behind the scenes, it's safe to assume he has a handsome net worth. According to Celebrity Net Worth, the multi-hyphenate has an estimated $10 million to his name. According to Audacy, this makes him the eighth highest-paid cast member from "The Office," with Steve Carrell and John Krasinski tied in first place at $80 million each.

However, while appearing on the "Armchair Expert" podcast, Novak told host Dax Shepard that he's never spent his money in a frivolous fashion and that even having all that dough hasn't exactly equated to his happiness. "That's a bad sign, if you're ever thinking about how much money you're making, you're not happy," he said. If anything, making bank actually ended up making Novak feel "lost," as he explained of working on "The Office" during his 20s, "There was no parenting in Hollywood. So I left that show, and I hadn't learned much." Novak added, "I was part of this show, but I did not know who I was."

It may have taken him some time to figure this out, but Novak also recognized how he's lucky in that he no longer feels anxiety over his finances. "To me, the luxury of being successful is not thinking about money," he noted. "That is a luxury that almost nobody has."

B.J. Novak's favorite episode of The Office

At this point, it's pretty clear that B.J. Novak's proud of the dual parts he played on "The Office" as both a writer and an actor. But what's his all-time favorite episode? There are obviously so many iconic episodes to choose from, from "The Dundies" to "Dinner Party" — but during his Reddit AMA, Novak revealed that his choice is actually one that goes all the way back to Season 1, Episode 2.

"The episode of 'The Office' that I wrote that I'm proudest of is the first one I wrote, 'Diversity Day,'" Novak told his fans. "The show was completely new and I was assigned this amazing comedic opportunity to write what happened in this incredibly rich situation. The only question was, how far were we allowed to go? Not just with the jokes, but with the characters — with their ignorance, their mistakes, their discomfort?" He added, "It turned out really far, and learning that helped all of the writers learn that we were going to be able to write the show we wanted to write; and helped the actors learn that they better ground the characters in some real humanity because they were going to be taken to some pretty raw places."

Naming an episode from the first season may seem like a controversial choice among fans, but Novak's in good company. According to E! News, both Oscar Nunez (aka Oscar, of course) and the show's creator, Greg Daniels, agree that "Diversity Day" is among the best episodes of the series.