At an early age Cera showed an interest in acting and, with his parents' support, he started doing television commercial work by the time he was eight. The spots included an unpaid gig for Tim Horton's and then a paid gig for Pillsbury, which featured the young actor poking the company's Doughboy in the stomach.
Instead, Cera began pursuing meatier parts, taking on roles in various Canadian and American television shows. He was the voice behind Little Gizmo in the Emmy-winning cartoon series, "Rolie Polie Olie," work that eventually led to other voice parts on cartoon programs such as PBS's "The Berenstain Bears" and the FOX/ABC production, "Braceface." Then, at the age of 12, Cera caught a big break when he earned a regular spot on the comedy, "I Was a Sixth Grade Alien."
Around that same time, Cera took another big step forward on the big screen. He had a supporting role as Abbie Hoffman's son in "Steal This Movie"; another prominent part in the sci-fi thriller "Frequency"; and a starring gig in the 3-D Imax movie, "Ultimate Gs." Two years later, Cera showcased his talents as a young Chuck Barris in the George Clooney directed, "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind."
In 2001, Cera landed a role in the FOX sitcom, "The Grubbs." But the program never made it to the air, getting canceled after just eight episodes were filmed. Cera later claimed he was "devastated" by the early hook, but he wasn't done with television completely. And his earlier experience on "The Grubbs" and the timing of its cancelation helped pave the way for Cera to look over the script for another sitcom, "Arrested Development," a Ron Howard produced show that was still very much in its infancy.
Cera, who cites Larry David and Bill Murray as two big comedic influences, loved what he read. Especially the character George Michael, the 13-year-old son whose father, Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman), returns home to run the family business and look after his highly dysfunctional parents and siblings.
"Even making a tape, reading the lines with my mom, was so much fun," recalled Cera, who was one of the first actors cast in the show. To maintain some sort of normal family life, Cera and his mom relocated to Los Angeles during the show's production. During this time he also completed his high school degree online.
While the program shed the celebrity spotlight on Cera, "Arrested Development" never gained the audience share that FOX demanded. In 2006, despite a heap of critical praise, not to mention six Emmy awards and two Golden Globes, the show came to an end.
Still, in terms of professional development, the program was nothing but a boost for Cera and his career. A year after the show's cancelation, the actor co-starred with Jonah Hill in the 2007 smash hit, "Superbad," which chronicles a single night in the life of two awkward high school seniors. That same year, Cera turned in another big performance as the friend and impregnator of his best friend in "Juno," a surprise hit that earned some $200 million in the box office and nabbed Cera a nomination from the Canadian Comedy Awards.
Other movies followed, including "Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist" (2008), "Year One" (2009), "Youth in Revolt" (2009) and "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010).
Cera reprised his role as George Michael Bluth for the season 4 reboot of "Arrested Development" airing via Netflix.
Demonstrating a desire to take on a smaller, under-the-radar projects, Cera has appeared in a host of low budget, quirky productions including a medical satire, "Children's Hospital," produced for the Web, and a hilarious recreation of the famous duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. In 2006 he teamed up with friend and fellow actor Clark Duke to create a series of comedic sketches that appeared on their Web site, clarkandmichael.com, and eventually the CBS Internet channel, Innertube.
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