Simon Helberg made a career out of playing lovable nerds, but always with a twist. He honed his skills on the long-running sketch comedy series "MADtv" (Fox, 1995-2009) and on the fictional show-within-a-show "Studio 60 on the Sunset Trip" (NBC, 2006-07), where he did impressions of more experienced comics like Ben Stiller and Jimmy Fallon. But it was his turn as the bowl-cut physics nerd Howard Wolowitz on "The Big Bang Theory" (CBS, 2007- ) that made Helberg a star. His overly confident character fancied himself a ladies' man, and sported a look that the actor once described as "Jewish mod": super-tight pants, bright turtlenecks and Vans shoes. The series steadily gained mass appeal, as did Helberg, whose wacky antics and slow, believable shift from a would-be cad into a devoted husband gave Hollywood plenty of reasons to expect a long and successful career out of the talented comedian.
Simon Maxwell Helberg was born on Dec. 9. 1980 in Los Angeles to father, actor Sandy Helberg, and his mother, Harriet B. Helberg, a casting director. He started off his career as a musician, playing the piano for a number of jazz and rock bands in Los Angeles. At 16, Helberg landed a minor part in a local production of "The Children's House" as a delivery boy. He had a mere five lines in the dramatic scene, but he said them with such conviction that it made the audience laugh. Helberg moved to New York to attend New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. While still at NYU, he landed a guest role on the college-centric comedy, "Undeclared" (Fox, 2001-03), directed by Judd Apatow. The role led to more guest spots on shows like "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch" (ABC, 1996-2003), the teen drama "Popular" (The WB, 1999-2001), and in features like "Van Wilder" (2002), in which he played a geeky student for whom the title character (Ryan Reynolds) throws a party for.
In 2002, Helberg's fortunes began to shift when he became a regular on "MADtv." It was on the popular sketch show that he fine-tuned his comic skills by impersonating fellow comedians like Jimmy Fallon and parodying hit shows like the drama "7th Heaven" (The WB, 1996-2007). A natural at playing socially inept characters, Helberg guest starred on sitcoms such as "Less Than Perfect" (ABC, 2002-06), the cult favorite, "Arrested Development" (Fox, 2003-06), and had a recurring role on "Reno 911!" (Comedy Central, 2003-09) as a young man addicted to prostitutes.
In 2007, Helberg scored a lead role on the Web-based series "Derek and Simon: The Show" (TBS, 2007), which he also wrote and co-produced opposite comedian Derek Waters. Shot documentary-style mostly in bars, it featured the duo and their friends talking about their woes with women. He also developed a huge fan base for his appearance in the Internet-released short, "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog" (2008), director Joss Whedon's popular Web series about an aspiring villain (Neil Patrick Harris) who comes up with wacky inventions to rule the world. Helberg played Moist, Dr. Horrible's friend who was always wet. Helberg was a regular on the ratings-challenged Aaron Sorkin offering, "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," a behind-the-scenes look at a sketch comedy show where he did spot-on impressions of Nicolas Cage, Tom Cruise, and Stiller.
Helberg's stint on the fledgling Sorkin series almost made him pass up the chance to appear on "The Big Bang Theory," but he eventually decided to give the new sitcom a shot. The move paid off. Helberg finally became a household name as Howard Wolowitz, a socially awkward mechanical engineer who fancies himself a Casanova. The series, in spite of its lack of big-name stars, turned out to be one of the era's most watched comedies. Between seasons, Helberg worked on the big screen, taking roles in the Coen brothers' "A Serious Man" (2009), quirky comedy "Let Go" (2011), and indie drama "I Am I" (2013). His first film as leading man, writer and director, the romantic farce "We'll Never Have Paris" (2014), co-starred Melanie Lynsky and Zachary Quinto. Helberg next co-starred in Stephen Frears' "Florence Foster Jenkins" (2016) opposite Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant in the true story of a notoriously bad opera singer.