8/28/1969 (50 years old) Santa Monica, California, United States
While this scruffy, manic actor may not look like a typical star, he has managed to forge his own unique showbiz path. Black started out in Tim Robbins' theater troupe, the Actors Gang, and subsequently made his film debut in Robbins' Bob Roberts in 1992. Throughout the rest of the decade, Black worked steadily on both the small and big screens, delivering intense supporting turns. Concurrently he formed the mock rock duo Tenacious D with guitarist Kyle Gass in 1994. Even though there was humor in their music (their lyrics touched on everything from kielbasa to karate), Black clearly revered old-school rock and roll. In 2000, he broke through to the mainstream as a high-spirited record-store clerk in High Fidelity. A succession of high-profile supporting parts followed (Saving Silverman, Shallow Hal). He graduated to leading man in 2003's School of Rock, which managed to capitalize on his crazed energy, musical ability, offbeat looks and infinite charm. As a veritable pop-culture icon, Black started turning up everywhere: events with his then-girlfriend, comedian Laura Kightlinger (he ended up eloping with musician Tanya Haden in 2006); hip movie cameos (Anchorman); and funny guest spots (Will & Grace). In 2005, he solidified his spot on the A-list by landing a rare dramatic (if still wildly amusing) role as an obsessive director in the remake of King Kong. Still, his outsize personality makes him a kids' favorite, resulting in voice roles for animated films (Ice Age, Kung Fu Panda) and being named host of the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards in 2006 and 2008.