An eccentric Canadian comedic actor who got his start in film in the Farrelly brothers’ sophomoric smash Dumb and Dumber (1994), Harland Williams soon moved from incomprehensible character player to lead in the Stuart Gillard-directed RocketMan, in 1997. He has since acted in many movies, including Barry Levinson’s Wag the Dog (1997), Mr. Headmistress (1998, TV), Bruce McCulloch’s Dog Park (1998), Superstar (1999), There’s Something About Mary (1998), The Whole Nine Yards (2000), Becoming Dick (2000, TV), Sorority Boys (2002), Lucky 13 (2005) and Employee of the Month (2006). A dark-haired and adorable performer with cartoon-like ears, a faintly weak chin and expressive eyes, Williams is also a voice-over actor. He was the voice of Newton on the series “Ned’s Newt” (1997-1999), Todd Blake on the soon-cancelled David Spade show “Sammy” (2000), the jolly road tripper Mike Bonner on UPN’s series “Gary & Mike” (2001) and Lug on the praised feature Robots (2005). He is set to provide his voice for the animated films Meet the Robinsons and Route 66 (both 2007).
Off screen, the comedian is a trained animator. He has written and illustrated a series of children’s books about a brontosaurus called Lickety Split. As for his married life, he was married to screen beauty Wendi Kenya.
Childhood and Family:
Harland Michael Williams was born on November 14, 1962, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, to Lorraine Williams and John Williams, a Member of the Provincial Parliament in Ontario, who served as Solicitor-General of the province for a time. After graduating from Toronto’s Senator O’Connor High School, he studied Media Arts at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario, but dropped out to become a comedian. Before relocating to Los Angeles to pursue a career in comedy, he was a forest ranger.
Harland was married to actress Wendi Kenya. He is the cousin of Kevin Hearn, the keyboard player for the well-liked Canadian rock band Barenaked Ladies. He appeared in the group’s video “Falling for the First Time.”
A native of Toronto, Harland Williams abandoned a career as a forest ranger to try his hand at stand-up comedy and quickly made the switch to acting. In 1994, he had his first taste in front of the film camera with a bit part in the hit comedy Dumb and Dumber, which starred fellow Torontonian Jim Carrey, and made his TV acting debut that same year with a notable cameo as a movie ticket taker on an episode of “These Friends of Mine,” an early embodiment of the ABC sitcom “Ellen.” From 1995 to 1996, he starred as the eponymous harebrained optimist in his own comedy show, “Simon” (WB).
After playing the small role of a sonar specialist in the silly comedy Down Periscope (1996), Williams had his first starring role in a movie playing an empty-headed scientist in the comedy RocketMan (1997). The film was popular among young viewers and helped to launch Williams’ film career. He returned to less significant character roles in such movies as the Barry Levinson-directed Wag the Dog (1997, as pet wrangler), Half-Baked (1998), director Bruce McCulloch’s Dog Park (1998) and the Cameron Diaz vehicle There’s Something About Mary (1998, as the Hitchhiker), and in 1999, he reunited with McCulloch for the comedy film Superstar (1999), portraying the loyal love interest of Mary Katherine Gallagher (played by Molly Shannon). Meanwhile, on the small screen, he starred as a man camouflaged as a woman in the funny Mr. Headmistress (1998) and voiced the role of Newton on the animated series “Ned’s Newt” (1997-1999).
Williams appeared with Bruce Willis, Matthew Perry, Rosanna Arquette, Michael Clarke Duncan, Natasha Henstridge and Amanda Peet in the effective screwball comedy The Whole Nine Yards (2000), and then became busy with his work for television projects. He was the voice of Todd Blake on the short-lived, David Spade animated NBC series “Sammy” (2000), played the title pleasant guy turned horrible opportunist in the Bob Saget-helmed TV-movie Becoming Dick (E! Entertainment TV, 2000) and hosted the Comedy Central stand-up series “Premium Blend” (2000). He also costarred as Alan in the ABC sitcom “The Geena Davis Show” (2000-2001), provided the voice of the cheery road tripper Mike Bonner on the UPN claymation series “Gary & Mike” (2001) and shared the screen with Bryan Cranston and Caroline Rhea in the enjoyable television film The Santa Claus Brothers (2001).
A small role in fellow Canadian Tom Green’s directorial debut Freddy Got Fingered (2001) returned the cute performer to the big screen, where he starred in Sorority Boys (2002), a ridiculous and widely panned comedy about three male college students in drag. He continued to star in the comedy Family Tree and play the owner of a video arcade in the straight-to-video release Kart Racer (both 2003). In 2005, he costarred with Brad Hunt in the comedy/romance Lucky 13, was featured as a cop in the family movie Because of Winn-Dixie, as well as voiced Lug on the well-reviewed animated film Robots. He was next seen in the 2006 movies Hot Tamale, Surf School and the Jessica Simpson vehicle Employee of the Month.
The multi-talented Williams now records a radio show in L.A., played weekday afternoons on 103.5 The Fox in Denver, Colorado. As for his upcoming projects, he is scheduled to work in Stephen J. Anderson’s Meet the Robinsons and Route 66. In the latter project, he also serves as director and writer.