An actor whose name became synonymous with "comic relief" during the late 1990s, Jamie Kennedy made his reputation playing a series of wise-asses in such films as the Scream trilogy and the independent comedy Clockwatchers. Born in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, on May 25, 1970, Kennedy showed comedic inclinations from an early age, and first became inspired to pursue an acting career when he was cast as an extra in Dead Poets Society (1989).
After high school, Kennedy moved to L.A., where he wanted to have a career as an extra. Unfortunately, Hollywood casting agents had other ideas, and the aspiring actor found himself working odd jobs ranging from a restaurant busboy to a gum-scraper at K-Mart. During this time, he also studied at the American/British Drama Academy and began finding stand-up work at various improv clubs. It was in one of these clubs that he caught the attention of an independent filmmaker and was subsequently cast in the little-seen The Legend of Flin Flon.
The actor's bona fide entry into the film industry came with a supporting role in Baz Luhrmann's 1996 William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet, in which he played a fuchsia-haired thug. That same year he had a huge breakthrough in Wes Craven's Scream, which cast him as a video store clerk with an unnerving lust for horror movies. The great success of the film opened a number of doors for Kennedy, one of which led to a memorable role as an office boy in Jill Sprecher's well-received independent comedy Clockwatchers (1997), which also starred Lisa Kudrow, Parker Posey, and Toni Collette. The actor also reprised his role for the inevitable Scream 2 (1997) and Scream 3 (2000) and appeared in such slacker extravaganzas as Bongwater and Starf*cker (both 1998).
Kennedy got a shot at more grown-up fare with a supporting role in David O. Russell's acclaimed Gulf War drama Three Kings (1999), and a turn as a movie studio gofer in the satirical Bowfinger (1999). His growing popularity was reflected in the number of projects he was involved with in 2000; included amongst them were Ben Younger's The Boiler Room, in which Kennedy played an ambitious young stock broker, and The Specials, an ensemble comedy that cast him as a member of a motley group of superheroes.