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20 Celebrities Who Got Their Big Break On a Judd Apatow Show

By / 04.25.12
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Twenty years ago, a young Judd Apatow, fresh off an appearance in HBO’s 15th Annual Young Comedians Special, got his first major TV gig: writer and producer for “The Ben Stiller Show,” the short-lived FOX sketch series that’s since become a cult classic. Two decades later, and with "The Larry Sanders Show," "Freaks and Geeks," and "Undeclared" (as well as "The Critic" and "Girls," to a certain degree) under his writing, directing, and producing belt, Apatow's become one of the biggest names in comedy. And his shows have launched the careers of many big-name actors and actresses.

On the occasion of the Friday release of the new film The Five-Year Engagement, which reunites "Freaks" star Jason Segel star with producer Apatow (plus Alison Brie with a British accent!), here are 20 celebrities who got their big break, if not their first role, on one of his shows.

Actor: Andy Dick

Show: "The Ben Stiller Show"

Biggest Gig Before Then: Brownnoser in TV movie "Earth Angel"

Actor: Dino Stamatopoulos

Show: "The Ben Stiller Show"

Biggest Gig Before Then: N/A

Actor: David Cross

Show: "The Ben Stiller Show"

Biggest Gig Before Then: N/A

Actress: Janeane Garofalo

Show: "The Ben Stiller Show"

Biggest Gig Before Then: Counter Girl in Late for Dinner

Actor: Jeremy Piven

Show: “The Larry Sanders Show”

Biggest Gig Before Then: Mark in Say Anything

Actor: Todd Barry

Show: “The Larry Sanders Show”

Biggest Gig Before Then: Foosball Player in Who’s the Caboose?

Actor: Martin Starr

Show: "Freaks and Geeks"

Biggest Gig Before Then: Allen in Coma in Hero (credited as Martin Schienle)

Actress: Lizzy Caplan

Show: "Freaks and Geeks"

Biggest Gig Before Then: Lily in TV movie From Where I Sit

Actress: Busy Phillips

Show: "Freaks and Geeks"

Biggest Gig Before Then: Karen Carter in The Smokers

Actor: Seth Rogen

Show: “Freaks and Geeks”

Biggest Gig Before Then: N/A

Actress: Rashida Jones

Show: "Freaks and Geeks"

Biggest Gig Before Then: Feminist in TV movie If These Walls Could Talk 2

Actress: Kayla Ewell

Show: "Freaks and Geeks"

Biggest Gig Before Then: Faith Cleary in "Profiler"

Actor: Alexander Gould (a.k.a. Shane from "Weeds" and the voice of Nemo)

Show: "Freaks and Geeks"

Biggest Gig Before Then: Young Bailey Kipper in "Bailey Kipper's P.O.V."

Actor: Matt Czuchry (a.k.a. Logan from "Gilmore Girls" and Cary from "The Good Wife")

Show: "Freaks and Geeks"

Biggest Gig Before Then: N/A

Actress: Alex Breckenridge (a.k.a. Moira from "American Horror Story" and Dustin's girl)

Show: "Freaks and Geeks"

Biggest Gig Before Then: Arden in TV movie "Locust Valley"

Actress: Samaire Armstrong (a.k.a. Anna from "The O.C.")

Show: "Freaks and Geeks"

Biggest Gig Before Then: N/A

Actor: Charlie Hunnam

Show: "Undeclared"

Biggest Gig Before Then: This choice is cheating — Hunnam was already a TV veteran thanks to his role as Nathan on "Queer of Folk." But I love imagning Jax saying Lloyd's dialogue, so he's on the list.

Actor: Kevin Hart

Show: "Undeclared"

Biggest Gig Before Then: Shawn in Paper Soldiers

Actor: Simon Helberg

Show: “Undeclared”

Biggest Gig Before Then: Andy Tinker in “Cursed”

Actress: Jenna Fischer

Show: "Undeclared"

Biggest Gig Before Then: College Girl in The Specials

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TOPICS#girls
TAGSFreaks and GeeksJUDD APATOWTHE BEN STILLER SHOWUNDECLARED
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