Powered by a chameleonic charisma and aggressive energy that belied his small frame, Kattan created many popular impressions and characters, including the exotic dancer Mango, the monkey man Mr. Peepers, the wannabe Goth teen Azrael Abyss and most memorably with Will Ferrell, as a pair of nightclub-hopping, head-bopping brothers. So popular was the latter skits that Kattan and Ferrell wrote and starred in the movie version, “A Night at the Roxbury” (1998), though it fizzled at the box office. He went on to make small appearances in the horror film “House on Haunted Hill” (1999) and the bizarre black comedy “Monkeybone” (2001), before landing his first starring role as the Mafioso man-child “Corky Romano” (2001). Kattan essayed the colorfully quirky villain Mr. Feather in “Undercover Brother” (2002), but struggled to land high-profile roles after he left “SNL.” After starring in a miniseries that detailed his attempts to become a movie star in India, “Bollywood Hero” (IFC, 2009), Kattan charmed in a goofy guest spot on “How I Met Your Mother” (CBS, 2005- ) and recurred as Patricia Heaton’s likable loser co-worker Bob on “The Middle.” (ABC, 2009- ). Although regaining the height of stardom he achieved in his “SNL” prime proved difficult, Kattan remained a vibrant comedic wild card, capable of injecting a fascinatingly chaotic energy into just about any project.
Born Oct. 19, 1970, in Sherman Oaks, CA, Kattan was the son of Hajnalka E. Biro, a Hungarian model and Kip King, an actor who was a founder member of the famed Los Angeles acting troupe, The Groundlings. Raised by his mother and psychoanalyst stepfather in a Zen community outside of Los Angeles, Kattan and his family relocated to Brisbane Island, WA for his high school years, where the young man developed a reputation as the class clown. Returning to California, Kattan joined The Groundlings alongside future peers like Jennifer Coolidge and supported himself with a variety of odd jobs. After a handful of minor roles, including guest spots on “NewsRadio” (NBC, 1995-99) and “Grace Under Fire” (ABC, 1993-98), he earned his big break in 1996 when “Saturday Night Live” (NBC, 1975- ) hired him. Quickly emerging as a nervy, aggressive asset, Kattan developed a reputation for comedic fearlessness with characters like Suel Forrester, the vaguely Cajun, gibberish-spewing drill sergeant, and Mr. Peepers, the apple-spewing monkey man. As meek Goth-wannabe teen Azrael Abyss, Kattan displayed a sillier side, while he earned laughs for a masterfully absurd performance as Mango, the temperamental stripper no male or female can resist. Meanwhile, he delved into a number of celebrity impersonations, with a wide range that included Clay Aiken, Al Pacino and Queen Elizabeth II.
Though many of Kattan’s impressions and recurring roles were memorable and sometimes iconic, it was alongside Will Ferrell as The Roxbury Guys, a pair of nightclub-loving, rayon suit-wearing brothers, that he created a truly breakout character. While the recurring sketches featuring the overconfident brothers were marked by physical comedy and an almost complete absence of dialogue except for the omnipresent dance hit “What is Love” by Haddaway, the inevitable film spin-off, “A Night at the Roxbury” (1998), co-scripted by Kattan, was a more straightforward comedy. Despite scathing reviews and a thin premise, the film was modest box office success. He followed up with a turn as nervous victim of the spooky “House on Haunted Hill” (1999), while n 2001, as “SNL” began to be dominated by newer stars like Jimmy Fallon, Kattan turned more of his focus to film while staying active on the series. Critics applauded Kattan’s physical comedy as the deceased organ-donating gymnast who houses the mind and spirit of Brendan Fraser thanks to a deal with Death (Whoopi Goldberg), in the bizarre animated and live-action hybrid, “Monkeybone” (2001).
Kattan brought the full force of his upbeat, effete man-child act to his starring role in the mob comedy “Corky Romano” (2001). Critics savaged the film upon release, with some declaring it the worst movie of the year. Adding insult to injury, the movie made less than $25 million at the box office. Undeterred, he played the villainously over-the-top Mr. Feather in the surprise Eddie Griffin sleeper “Undercover Brother” (2002) amidst quietly leaving “SNL” after the 2002-03 season. After a lower-key turn as Parker Posey’s boyfriend in the gay-themed romantic comedy “Adam & Steve” (2005), he spent the remainder of the decade working steadily in small roles or lower-profile projects, including an uncredited cameo as a burglar in “Nancy Drew” (2007). Following a starring turn in a miniseries that purportedly showcased his attempts to become a movie star in India, “Bollywood Hero” (IFC, 2009), Kattan was hired to host “Game Show in My Head” (CBS, 2009), only to be fired and replaced with Joe Rogan before the series aired. Meanwhile, the actor made a memorably meta guest starring appearance on the hit sitcom, “How I Met Your Mother” (CBS, 2005- ), playing the obnoxious film version of the show’s main character, Ted (Josh Radnor). He regained some professional footing with a likable recurring role as Bob, the lonely but well-meaning coworker of Patricia Heaton’s used-car saleswoman on the widely praised sitcom “The Middle” (ABC, 2009- ).
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