From IT to LA: Chris O’Dowd’s rise to fame

As Chris O'Dowd's Moone Boy premieres on Sky1, we look back at his path to stardom

From geeky IT guy to simple Simon in The Boat That Rocked, I have always had a soft spot for Irish charmer Chris O’Dowd.


Though he wasn’t considered much of a heart-throb in The IT Crowd, the rest of the world soon jumped on the bandwagon when he appeared as Officer Rhodes in international hit Bridesmaids. 

But, as all those hearts were broken last month when O’Dowd tied the knot, marrying British TV presenter Dawn Porter (*sniff*), the rest of us will just have to make do with watching our way through his acting CV… 

The IT Crowd

Channel 4’s comedy set in an IT department cast O’Dowd as Roy Trenneman, a perpetually grumpy IT technician in 2006. 

Roy, super geek Moss and computer-illiterate Jen who was made head of IT by accident are the unloved employees of Reynolm Industries, banished to the basement to answer inane calls from the technology-phobes who work upstairs – “Hello, IT. Have you tried turning it off and on again?” 

Written by Graham Linehan, the genius who penned Father Ted, Black Books and the Fast Show, littered with geeky jokes – the episode where Roy and Moss convince Jen she’s holding the internet is a joy (see clip below…) – and socially awkward mishaps, The IT Crowd is one comedy series that shouldn’t be forgotten. 

Luckily, you can watch all four series on 4oD.

The Boat That Rocked

The 2009 Richard Curtis creation The Boat That Rocked was one of O’Dowd’s first big screen roles. The light hearted comedy, based on the pirate radio of the 1960s, follows a troupe of misfits who broadcast rock and roll to the nation while fighting against the government’s increasing opposition.

O’Dowd plays DJ Simple Simon Swafford – catchphrase “It’s not simple being cool but it’s cool being simple!”- who, while his fellow DJs bed fans indiscriminately, is waiting for true love. Thinking he’s found it with pretty American Elena, played by Mad Men star January Jones, they get married (cue hilarious stag do sequence). But the morning after their wedding night Elena reveals that she has only married him so she can live on the boat and be with late night DJ Gavin “Are you doing something dirty?” Cavanagh. 

With a star studded cast – including Bill Nighy, Kenneth Branagh, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rhys Ifans and January Jones –  and an amazing soundtrack, The Boat That Rocked should have been a massive success but surprisingly wasn’t really deemed one by film critics. (I still think it’s great though.)

See the trailer…

And O’Dowds’ best moment: a perfectly lip-synched rendition of Stay With Me Baby, which he sings after his ill-fated marriage to Elena ends after just 17 hours…



Arguably the funniest film of 2011, Bridesmaids follows Annie Walker, a single 30-something who is unlucky in love and life. When her best friend gets engaged and asks her to be maid of honour Annie starts making disastrous choices and her already chaotic life begins to fall apart. Annie soon loses her job, is forced to move back in with her mum and falls out with the bride-to-be – via a cringe-worthy karaoke moment and, of course, that scene in the bridal shop. 

O’Dowd plays charming Nathan Rhodes, a friendly police officer who lets Annie off when her headlight is broken. They soon embark on a promising new relationship with Rhodes helpfully turning up to save Annie – literally, in his police car, or from despair with his cheerful Irish wit (see clip below). Dating doesn’t go without a hitch though (nothing ever does for Annie). In one great scene, after an argument, Annie tries to get him to talk to her by driving past his patrol car breaking as many laws as she can. 

Hailed for being an honest and funny portrayal of female friendship, Bridesmaids was an international hit, being nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Melissa McCarthy and Best Original Screenplay.

Here’s the trailer…

And a funny scene of Officer Rhodes and Annie…

Moone Boy 

Moone Boy is O’Dowd’s new comedy sit com for Sky1. Co-written by O’Dowd and starring the man himself, Moone Boy is a semi-autobiographical comedy set in his hometown – some parts are even filmed in his childhood home.

O’Dowd plays Sean Murphy the imaginary friend of 12-year-old Martin Moone, who gives him questionable life advice about how to deal with his chaotic family and the school bullies. 

The nostalgic comedy is starting on Sky1 tonight and O’Dowd is clearly very excited, taking to twitter to proclaim: “For those asking.. I know it’s on a bit late, but #MooneBoy is absolutely suitable for kids. It is not, however, suitable for Capricorns” and “THE DAY HAS COME! After weeks of speculation and preamble it’s finally here!.. I’m getting my dog’s ears pierced! Also, #MooneBoy”.


Moone Boy starts tonight at 9:30pm on Sky1.