Kat Dennings is one of those rare actors who’s grown up right in front of viewers’ eyes. Since making her first onscreen appearance at age 14, Dennings’ talent continued to shine through in the numerous roles that followed. Among her most memorable: the titular Nora in quirky 2008 rom-com Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist; Darcy Lewis in Marvel’s first two Thor movies; Abby, host of a dysfunctional holiday gathering in Friendsgiving; and, in her best-known role, wisecracking waitress Max Black on hit sitcom 2 Broke Girls, which ran from 2011 until 2017. As her IMDb page demonstrates, Dennings more recently starred in Hulu’s 2019 comedy Dollface, playing a woman who reconnects with the female friends she’d been neglecting after her boyfriend dumped her.
When she’s not involved in a film or TV project, this in-demand star tends to maintain a low profile, which is why her fans may not know her as well as they think they do. Admitting that certain non-acting parts of fame, like popping up on the covers of magazines, makes her “really uncomfortable,” Dennings reasoned to The Philadelphia Inquirer back in 2011, “If being successful means tolerating a certain amount of being uncomfortable, that’s part of my job.”
Let’s discover what most people don’t know about Kat Dennings.
Kat Dennings was homeschooled — and graduated high school at 14
Despite having highly educated parents — her mother’s a poet and her father is a molecular pharmacologist — Kat Dennings’ education was far from typical. As she told Complex, she was homeschooled. “I took charge of my education towards the end of it,” the actor explained. “I just couldn’t deal with being in the tiny room with my parents anymore. But it worked great. I don’t think I could have dealt with traditional school, just the way my brain is wired.”
That bore out when Dennings eventually attended high school — but just for half a day. As she told Philadelphia magazine, the experience “almost broke [her] spirit forever.” She recalled her in-school education as being as unpleasant as it was brief, revealing, “I was yelled at. People made fun of my outfit. I filled out some questionnaire and realized I spelled ‘friend’ wrong. That was a word I mastered, eventually. I remember feeling so stupid, and I thought, f**k this.”
As the Daily News pointed out, Dennings instead continued her education by herself. She completed all the necessary steps to graduate high school, and received her diploma when she was just 14.
Kat Dennings changed her name because she thought it was 'a little hideous'
One thing Kat Dennings’ legions of fans may not realize is that her famous name is actually made up: this star was born Katherine Victoria Litwack, but made the decision to change her moniker as a teenager when she decided to pursue an acting career. “I didn’t want to use my family name because I thought, A, it was a little hideous, and B, I wanted to know when someone really knew me or they didn’t,” she told Philadelphia magazine. “I was a precocious youngster.”
While Dennings conceded that Katherine Litwack is “a sturdy Polish-Jewish name,” she admitted to being “really touchy about” her name at one point, but added, “I couldn’t care less now.” The actor obviously prefers “Kat” as opposed to the other shortened variations of Katherine, but there is one she absolutely loathes. “And Katherine has Katie, Kat, and if you want to die, Kathy, but no one can go there — no one,” she joked.
A teenage Kat Dennings made her TV debut on Sex and the City
Kat Dennings got her start as a child actor on TV commercials. As she told Philadelphia magazine, she was just 10 when she appeared in an ad spot for “those potato chips that had that poisonous ingredient.”
All that experience in commercials led to her big break: playing a “bratty” 13-year-old on an episode of Sex and the City. As HUFFPOST recalled, Dennings portrayed Jenny Brier, the daughter of a wealthy Manhattan restaurateur who hires Samantha Jones (Kim Cattrall) to plan her million-dollar bat mitzvah.
Dennings reminisced about appearing on Sex and the City while promoting the first season of 2 Broke Girls at the Television Critics Association summer press tour in 2011. Recalling that appearing in the show “changed [her] life,” Dennings said (via Collider), “Really it did. I was a homeschooled kid living in the forest, and I didn’t even have cable. I’m serious. We had to get cable to watch that episode.” Dennings went on to joke of Charlotte York’s (Kristin Davis) onscreen love interest at the time, “So all my little homeschool friends and their moms saw Kyle MacLachlan’s a**.”
Kat Dennings once dated fellow 'nerd' Josh Groban
Back in the mid-2010s, Kat Dennings went public to reveal she was in a relationship with singer Josh Groban. During a 2015 appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, she discussed how the couple had been set up by her 2 Broke Girls co-star, Beth Behrs. “She thought we were both nerds, and she was right,” Dennings quipped. Behrs backed that up when she told People that the two lovebirds were indeed “nerds at heart,” adding that bringing the two together “didn’t take much coaxing for either of them.”
According to Groban, their nerdy date nights were usually spent in front of a television watching Shark Tank. “I try to behave like one of the sharks from the comfort of my onsie,” Groban told People. “A great date night is some good old-fashioned entrepreneurship.”
Despite their shared nerdiness, however, the romance ultimately didn’t last. “It was a mutual breakup,” a source cited by E! claimed after the couple split in July 2016. “They are still friends and care about each other, but it’s not the right time for them now as a couple.”
2 Broke Girls was created with Kat Dennings in mind
Interestingly enough, Kat Dennings’ first onscreen role led to her most famous one — albeit a full decade later. Sex and the City co-creator Michael Patrick King remembered Dennings nailing her performance as a 14-year-old guest star, and had been watching her acting career blossom from afar. When developing a new sitcom called 2 Broke Girls for CBS, he had Dennings in mind when creating the character of sarcastic, tough-talking waitress Max.
“I don’t think there’s anybody else like her so we basically hunted her down for this,” King told GQ in 2011. “She has a kind of amazing outsider edge. It made everything else fall into place.”
King shared more insights into his series’ star in a profile on Dennings for The New York Times. “I think she just sits on her couch on the weekends, and that’s one of the things that I love about her,” he said, explaining the actor’s appeal to viewers. “There’s nothing manufactured about her, and that comes through onscreen. People are responding to her because it feels like an individual has wandered into their living room.”
Kat Dennings' hobbies used to be blogging and vlogging
Although it hasn’t been updated in some time, Kat Dennings’ website still hosts her once-frequent blog posts. In her quirky blogs, the actor shared her many musings, tackling such obscure subjects as her undying love for her new Amazon Kindle (a.k.a. “my new husband”) to the spiders that had infiltrated her couch.
A profile on Dennings in The New York Times described her blog as “a kind of study guide,” that displayed “her dry, somewhat wacky sense of humor.” Among the observations that the Times noted was her missive, “My lip is bleeding, and I don’t know why. I don’t recall making out with a lawn mower. Although anything can happen when under the influence of ice water.”
In addition to the written word, Dennings has also shared her thoughts in video blogs, posted to her YouTube channel. Dennings hasn’t been active on the site since 2010, but fans who hunt around can find a treasure trove of vintage video — including a particularly bonkers one in which she and best friend Rodene Jones sport berets and faux moustaches as they nosh on Gummy Bears while speaking in exaggerated French accents. Y’know, as you do.
Kat Dennings is definitely not a party girl
Life in the fast lane is not how Kat Dennings rolls. As she once told BlackBook magazine, “I don’t drink and I don’t smoke and I don’t like being around people who do.” Dennings later opened up about why she understandably doesn’t really enjoy being the sole island of sobriety in an ocean of booze, saying in an interview with Glamour, “To this day, I still don’t like being around drunk people. It’s not good for you. It’s like seeing someone jump out of a plane without a parachute.”
However, Dennings is also no teetotaler. “I went to Europe recently though, and I did drink wine there,” she told Glamour. “Now I get it when they say wine goes with the food, and it’s a whole experience, so I’m not opposed to wine now and then, because Europe changed that, but I don’t like to drink and get drunk.”
But that may not have been the case when Dennings and her 2 Broke Girls co-star, Beth Behrs, learned that CBS cancelled their show in 2017. “We had a wine and pizza explosion at her house, where we ate and drank everything in sight, basically,” Dennings told Yahoo! Movies. “It was actually great!”
Kat Dennings started a knitting club with a UFC champ
Blogging isn’t the only hobby to have captured the fancy of Kat Dennings. As she explained during a 2016 appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, she had also taken up knitting. “So, I am an old man,” Dennings joked. In fact, she revealed that she and UFC fighter-turned-WWE wrestler Ronda Rousey had formed a knitting club, which they’d dubbed “the Yarn and the Restless.”
At that point, Dennings admitted that her knitting output wasn’t particularly impressive, consisting of a single scarf. She followed that up with a confession, telling host Ellen DeGeneres that all the clubs she puts together “are just wine clubs … we just knit a scarf and get drunk — and make friend memories.”
In a follow-up appearance on DeGeneres’ show, Dennings said she was still knitting. In fact, she had been watching Outlander and became inspired to recreate a knitted cowl worn by star Caitriona Balfe on the show. “And I Googled it and it turns out I’m not alone,” she said, revealing how she had stumbled upon an apparently vast Outlander knitting “community.” Dennings did complete her project, by the way, and shared a photo of the result on Instagram in November 2019.
Kat Dennings once co-starred with a future Marvel superhero in a Bob Saget sitcom
According to Kat Dennings’ roster of roles on IMDb, her second onscreen credit — after her memorable debut on Sex and the City — was Raising Dad, a 2001 TV sitcom starring Bob Saget. According to a review in Variety, Dennings played the daughter of Saget’s character, with the former Full House star portraying a single father employed as a creative writing teacher at his daughter’s school. Also in the cast: Brie Larson, who played the younger daughter of Saget’s character.
As aficionados of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will immediately recognize, both actors would later go on to have roles in Marvel’s superhero movies. Dennings played Darcy Lewis in Thor and its sequel, Thor: Dark World, while Larson nabbed the title character in Captain Marvel (which she, of course, reprised in Avengers: Endgame).
Discussing her most notable roles with The Hollywood Reporter, Dennings touched on Raising Dad, and recalled Larson as “an incredible Oscar-winning actress who was just this sweet little noodle at that time.” Even though the show was cancelled after just one season, Dennings remembered “having an amazing time” during her first experience as a series regular on a TV show.
Kat Dennings is secretly a screenwriter
In addition to writing for her blog, Kat Dennings has also dabbled in writing for the screen. In fact, Dreams Suck — a screenplay that she co-wrote with her brother, Geoffrey Litwack, about an “awkward teen” who joins a Dance, Dance Revolution team — made it onto the Black List of “The Hottest Unproduced Screenplays of 2008.”
Her long-term goal, she said in a 2011 interview with Movieline, is to become more active behind the camera. “I don’t really talk that much about it, but I write, and directing is on the horizon one day,” Dennings said. She was hoping to bring Dreams Suck to the screen, but admitted, “The process of getting a movie made is so ridiculous so it’s still in the pipeline.”
Meanwhile, anyone who saw Dennings in her 2008 comedy, Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist, would have witnessed a Dennings-scripted (or, at least improvised) piece of dialogue that she concocted on the spot. “There was no dialogue for me, and director Peter Sollett told me, ‘Just say something awesome before you do it!’ So I said, ‘Let’s dance, douchebag!’ and punched poor Michael [Cera],” the actor told the New York Post. “And it’s in the final version of the movie. I’m ecstatic!”
Kat Dennings ventured into producing with Dollface
After six seasons starring in 2 Broke Girls, Kat Dennings’ next project saw her take on a new role: producer. In addition to starring in the 2019 Hulu comedy, Dollface, she was also executive producer, working with Margot Robbie’s production company LuckyChap.
“It was something that I was hoping to do next, just because I’d come off of a long-running show and I was ready to take another step forward,” Dennings told Collider of being a producer. “I wanted to do something different. I didn’t really wanna do a sitcom again next, and I wanted to have a little more creative input on whatever the next project was.”
She elaborated on her new behind-the-camera role in an interview with Marie Claire. “I have to say it’s completely different [from acting]. When you’re an actor only, you don’t really feel like you have much of a say,” Dennings said. While she isn’t shy about speaking her mind on set, she admitted that, “In general when you’re an actor, you do your thing and trust everybody else to do their thing.”
Kat Dennings was proud to defend Billie Eilish from body-shaming trolls
When teen singer Billie Eilish was being targeted by body-shaming Twitter trolls, fellow star Kat Dennings had her back. “Anyone reacting to @billieeilish having a normal body has to take a hard look at themselves,” Dennings tweeted in October 2020. “As someone who looked exactly like that at her age, it’d be nice for this unhealthy nonsense to f**k right off. She’s beautiful and normal goodbye!”
The actor later spoke with ET about why she decided to chime in and come to the defense of Eilish. “Any woman in the spotlight is already under a tremendous amount of pressure and the internet is gross and awful and I hate it,” Dennings, who’s dealt with body-shaming in Hollywood herself, said. “I don’t know if it’s because she’s so young and it just feels so inappropriate for anyone to comment on any young person’s body. People forget themselves because the internet is this wall they can hide behind.”
Dennings continued by explaining that she “felt personally affronted by it because she’s a beautifully young girl who is making unbelievable, earth-changing art … I hope people know that people are in their corner and that [body-shaming] is not OK.”
Kat Dennings made an unexpected return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe
Kat Dennings appeared in Marvel’s first two Thor movies, playing Darcy Lewis, the tech-savvy sidekick to Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster. Despite those two appearances, Darcy seemingly vanished from Marvel Cinematic Universe. Or, at least that appeared to be the case, until news emerged that Dennings she would be part of the 2021 Disney+ series, WandaVision — an offbeat series that places Avengers Vision (Paul Bettany) and Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) in a sinister sitcom.
“I’m so lucky that they actually brought Darcy back for WandaVision,” Dennings told Looper of her role, noting that the project is “a huge secret thing, like they always are. But anyone who liked Darcy in those Thor movies will be like, ‘Oh my God, this is it.'” She added, “I mean, for me, I just couldn’t believe they were giving me this gift because being in any of Marvel’s work is a huge honor.”
Without divulging any spoilers, Dennings admitted she “was surprised by what they do with Darcy.” She continued, “It was exciting for me. I mean, anyone who’s a fan of Darcy will be very happy … Yeah, I can’t say any more, or Marvel will come take me out!”
Kat Dennings' net worth is impressive
Given that Kat Dennings has been acting professionally since she was 10, she’s undoubtedly managed to save up a few dollars along the way. In fact, Celebrity Net Worth estimates that she has a net worth of $25 million.
While Dennings has never publicly divulged how much she earned per episode on 2 Broke Girls, it’s a safe bet that her salary was hefty. In fact, the series was such an out-of-box hit that the show was sold into syndication to TBS during the first season — something that typically happens farther into a series’ run, once its success has been proven over the course of a few years. Meanwhile, that syndication deal also set a record. As Deadline reported, TBS paid $1.7 million per episode, topping a previous deal (also involving TBS) to play $1.5 million per episode for syndicated reruns of a little show called The Big Bang Theory.
While there’s no info on how big a piece of that amount Dennings would be receiving, she gets paid every time a rerun of 2 Broke Girls airs — ka-ching!
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