Katherine Litwack (born June 13, 1986), better known by the stage name Kat Dennings, is an American actress. Emerging with a role in an episode of the HBO dramedy series Sex and the City, Dennings has since appeared in the films The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Big Momma's House 2, Charlie Bartlett, Raise Your Voice, The House Bunny, Defendor, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, and Thor. She also co-stars in the CBS television series 2 Broke Girls.
Dennings was born and raised in the Bryn Mawr area near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her mother, Ellen Judith Litwack, is a poet and speech therapist, and her father, Gerald J. Litwack, is a molecular pharmacologist and college professor and chairman. Dennings is the youngest of five children, including an older brother, Geoffrey S. Litwack. Her family is Jewish.
Dennings was home schooled; her only enrollment at a traditional school was for a half-day at Friends' Central School. She graduated from high school early, at the age of 14. She moved with her family to Los Angeles, California around 2002 so that she could act full time. She adopted the name Dennings as her professional name when she was younger. According to Dennings, as stated in Interview magazine in 2007, her parents initially considered her idea of pursuing an acting career to be "the worst idea ever".
Dennings began her career in commercials at the age of 10. Her first acting job was an ad for potato chips. Dennings broke into television with an appearance on HBO's Sex and the City in 2000, in the episode "Hot Child in the City", playing a 13-year-old who hires Samantha to handle publicity for her bat mitzvah. She then starred on the short-lived series Raising Dad from 2001–2002, as Sarah, a 15-year-old raised by her widowed father (Bob Saget), with a pre-teen sister (Brie Larson). In 2002, Dennings appeared in The Scream Team, a Disney Channel movie, as a teenager who stumbles into a group of ghosts. She was cast for a five episode run on The WB's Everwood, but the role was recast with Nora Zehetner.
Dennings continued working in television, guest-starring on Without a Trace, as a teen whose boyfriend goes missing, and on Less Than Perfect, in 2003. She was cast in a pilot for CBS, Sudbury, about a family of modern-day witches, based on the 1998 film Practical Magic, but the series wasn't picked up. Dennings had a recurring role on ER from 2005-2006 as Zoe Butler, and guest-starred on CSI: NY as Sarah Endecott, in the episode "Manhattan Manhunt", in 2005.
Dennings made her feature film debut in Hilary Duff's Raise Your Voice in 2004, as Sloane, a somber piano student. In 2005, she landed supporting roles in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, as Catherine Keener's daughter, and in Down in the Valley. She played a rebellious teenager in Big Momma's House 2, starring Martin Lawrence, in 2006.
Dennings starred in Charlie Bartlett in 2008, the story of a wealthy teenager (Anton Yelchin), who acts as a psychiatrist for his new public high school. She played Susan Gardner, Bartlett's love interest, and the daughter of the school's principal (Robert Downey, Jr.). Dennings appeared in The House Bunny that year, as a Mona, a pierced feminist sorority girl. She also starred in the teen romance, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, with Michael Cera. Dennings played Norah Silverberg, the daughter of a famous record producer, and was nominated for the International Press Academy's Satellite Award for Best Actress for the performance. In September 2008, Dennings hoped to make Don DeLillo's novel, End Zone into a film. Actors Sam Rockwell and Josh Hartnett were involved, but the project was not greenlit because of its controversial subject matter of nuclear war.
In 2009, Dennings appeared in The Answer Man, a story about a celebrity author whose manifestos become a sort of new Bible. She also co-starred in the Robert Rodriguez-directed dark children's film, Shorts, that year. She played the protagonist Toe (Jimmy Bennett)'s teenage older sister, Stacey Thompson. Dennings and other rising stars were featured in the August 2009 issue of Vanity Fair, re-enacting scenes from famous Depression-era films, hers being Sydney Pollack's They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969). Dennings was cast in the romantic comedy Liars (A to E) in 2009. The Richard Linklater-directed project was cancelled however, due to cut backs at Miramax Films by the studio's parent company, Disney.
Dennings appeared in the superhero film Defendor in 2010, starring Woody Harrelson and Sandra Oh, playing a crack-addicted prostitute. She next starred in the independent feature Daydream Nation as a girl who moves to a strange rural town, and is caught in a love triangle with her high school teacher (Josh Lucas) and a teenage drug dealer (Reece Thompson). The film began shooting in Vancouver in early 2010, and was written and directed by Michael Golbach. In May 2010, Dennings appeared in a music video for "40 Dogs (Like Romeo and Juliet)", a single by Austin, Texas-based musician Bob Schneider. Robert Rodriguez directed the video, filmed in various locations around Austin.
Dennings was part of the cast of the Marvel Studios film Thor, released in May 2011, and directed by Kenneth Branagh. She played Darcy, a tech-savvy, shy sidekick of Natalie Portman's character, Jane Foster. The film went into production in January 2010; Dennings shot in New Mexico for 6 weeks in early 2010.
Dennings stars in 2 Broke Girls, a CBS television sitcom written and produced by Michael Patrick King and comedian Whitney Cummings. The comedy follows the lives of two under-employed girls. Beth Behrs co-stars as a Manhattan heiress who lost her inheritance, while Dennings plays a tough outspoken girl from Brooklyn. Dennings liked the idea of reaching a wider audience with her work, so she accepted the role on the network sitcom.
Dennings will star in the drama Lives of the Saints, alongside Meg Ryan, 50 Cent, John Lithgow, and Joe Anderson. Written and directed by Chris Rossi, the film was scheduled to begin shooting in Los Angeles in November 2010. She will also star in Renee, with Chad Michael Murray and Rupert Friend. Dennings plays Renee Yohe, a Florida teenager who struggled with substance abuse and self-injury, and inspired the founding of the nonprofit organization To Write Love on Her Arms. The film began production in Orlando, Florida in February 2011.
Dennings has been blogging since January 2001, and later transitioned into video blogging on YouTube. She is an avid reader and is friends with author Andrea Seigel. Dennings stated to The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles that Judaism "is an important part of my history, but, as a whole, religion is not a part of my life". In December 2008, Dennings told BlackBook magazine, "I don’t drink and I don’t smoke and I don’t like being around people who do."
In an interview with The Times in January 2009, Dennings stated, “I don’t have a boyfriend. I have friends, girl friends, great friends. We just hang out in other’s places and have one-on-one bonding time.” Later, in an interview with Daydream Nation co-star Josh Lucas and interviewer David Poland, Dennings admitted to having a boyfriend. As of November 2011, she lives in an apartment in Los Angeles's San Fernando Valley.