What is the Frat Pack?
The Frat Pack is the unofficial name for a group of actors who have appeared in numerous films together. These appearances are often in supporting or cameo roles, and the films share an absurdist sense of humor.
The name was coined by USA Today and is a reference to the “Brat Pack” of 1980’s actors and of course Frank Sinatra’s “Rat Pack” group from the 1960’s. The Frat Pack name is also a reference to group’s movie Old School.
The Frat Pack are Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Will Ferrell, Owen and Luke Wilson, Jack Black, Steve Carell, and Paul Rudd.
This site also covers projects from Frat Pack Friends including the group of actors associated with Judd Apatow. Team Apatow includes Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Jason Segel, Leslie Mann, and others.
Other Labels and Packs
Entertainment Weekly dubbed this group the “Slacker Pack” but this name never stuck. We prefer Frat Pack as it is closer grammatically to “Rat” or “Brat” and it references one of the group’s movies. Besides, the “slacker” term hardly seems appropriate given how much these guys work.
The other comedic “packs” include The Bad Boys of SNL / Happy Gilmore Gang, led by Adam Sandler, and Kevin Smith’s View Askewniverse. There’s some crossover, such as Ben Stiller’s cameo in Happy Gilmore or Will Ferrell’s supporting turn in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, but generally these groups are unrelated to the Frat Pack.
For a more dramatic “pack” consider Strangereadings’ Honor Society (George Clooney, William H. Macy, Julianne Moore).
Who are the Frat Pack?
Stiller is the acknowledged leader of the group, having started the cameo trend with his appearance in The Suburbans and by directing Owen’s and his own cameo inThe Cable Guy. He has also hired most of the other Frat Pack stars for various projects that he produced or directed. Stiller wrote, directed, produced, and starred in the first true Frat Pack classic, Zoolander. Stiller’s comedian parents, Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, both appeared in Zoolander along with wife Christine Taylor. He has also appeared in Starsky & Hutch, Dodgeball, and had another memorable cameo in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. He has kept the cameo flame going by appearing with Jack Black in Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny, and having Owen Wilson, Paul Rudd, Bill Hader, Jonah Hill, and others included in the Night at the Museum movies. Stiller starred, cowrote, produced, and directed the edgy but popular satire Tropic Thunder. He has continued the Fockers series and is continues to produce projects for other Frat Pack actors, such as Blades of Glory for Will Ferrell and The Big Year for Jack Black and Owen Wilson.
Breakout Role: TV’s The Ben Stiller Show
Career Highlights: Reality Bites (also directed), Flirting with Disaster, Your Friends and Neighbors, Keeping the Faith, Mystery Men, Mission: Improbable (playing Tom Crooze), The Duplex, Along Came Polly, Envy, Madagascar, Night at the Museum, The Heartbreak Kid, Tropic Thunder, Little Fockers, Greenberg, The Watch.
Since leaving SNL, Ferrell has appeared in numerous roles. Fans often point to his fearless performances as Frank the Tank in Old School, uber-anchor Ron Burgundy in Anchorman, or twisted ladies-man Chazz in Wedding Crashers, but we greatly appreciate his frenzied role as Mugatu in Zoolander. Will received a second Golden Globe nomination for the dramedy Stranger than Fiction. He frequently works with writing partner Adam McKay, who directed Talladega Nights, Step Brothers, and The Other Guys. McKay and Ferrell founded FunnyOrDie.com and produce numerous projects through their Gary Sanchez Productions company. Hailing from Southern California and a student at USC, Ferrell was also a member of the improv troupe The Groundlings.
Breakout Role: Created numerous characters on Saturday Night Live, including George W. Bush, Steve Butabi, Neil Diamond, Craig the Cheerleader, Janet Reno, and James Lipton.
Career Highlights: A Night at the Roxbury, Superstar, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Elf, Kicking & Screaming, Bewitched, The Producers, Curious George, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Blades of Glory, Semi Pro, Step Brothers, Land of the Lost, The Other Guys, The Campaign, Anchorman: The Legend Continues.
Vaughn burst onto the pop culture landscape with his outstanding presence in Swingers. For several years he did mostly dramatic roles (often as the villain) until Old School reminded audiences of his comedic genius. Vaughn seems to be the catalyst for Frat Pack movies, having appeared in many classic Frat Pack films: Dodgeball, Starsky & Hutch, Anchorman, Wedding Crashers, Zoolander, and of course Old School. In recent years, Vaughn has taken a more active role in producing his films, working with his own set of frequent collaborators such as Jon Favreau and Jason Bateman. Successful films produced by Vaughn include The Break-Up, Four Chistmases, and Couples Retreat. Vaughn has The Internship with Owen Wilson in 2013
Breakout Role: Motor-mouth Trent in Swingers.
Career Highlights: Made, Psycho, Clay Pigeons, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, The Cell, Return to Paradise, Domestic Disturbance, Be Cool, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Thumbsucker, The Break-Up, Into the Wild, Fred Claus, Four Christmases, Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show, Couples Retreat, The Dilemma, The Watch.
He hasn’t appeared in as many Frat Pack classics, however we feel Luke was the glue that held Old School together. Often cast in nice guy roles or as romantic leads, Wilson had a memorable appearance in another Frat Pack movie, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (”I did not see that coming!”) that cemented his status in the Frat Pack. Luke has often appeared with brothers Owen and Andrew. Wilson has expressed many positive statements about being considered a member of the Frat Pack, and famously cameoed in Blades of Glory. In recent years, Wilson has been associated with a number of films with delayed or limited releases, including The Wendell Baker Story (co-directed with Andrew Wilson), Idiocracy, Blonde Ambition, Henry Poole is Here, Middle Men, Terra, and Tenure. Wilson has received good reviews for his dramatic work in HBO’s Enlightened.
Breakout Role: Conflicted friend Anthony in Bottle Rocket
Career Highlights: Home Fries, Legally Blonde, Legally Blonde 2, Charlie’s Angels, Blue Streak, Alex and Emma, The Family Stone, My Super-Ex Girlfriend, Mini’s First Time, Idiocracy, Blonde Ambition, Henry Poole is Here, Tenure, Middle Men, Death at a Funeral, Enlightened.
Best known to audiences as one half of the Stiller and Wilson comedy duo, Owen has appeared in numerous films in both comedic and dramatic roles. Owen is also an accomplished screenwriter, having co-written the critical favorites Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums, for which he was nominated for a Best Screenplay Academy Award. His key Frat Pack roles include male model Hansel in Zoolander, Ken Hutchinson in Starsky & Hutch, John Beckwith from Wedding Crashers, and Jedidiah in Night at the Museum. Recent project demonstrate Wilson’s diversity, moving from dramedy in How Do You Know and Midnight in Paris to raunchy films such as Hall Pass. Wilson has The Internship with Vince Vaughn in 2013.
Breakout Role: “Criminal Mastermind” Dignan in Bottle Rocket
Career Highlights: Anaconda, Armageddon, Shanghai Noon, Behind Enemy Lines, I Spy, Shanghai Knights, The Life Aquatic, Cars, You, Me, and Dupree, Drillbit Taylor, Marley & Me, Marmaduke, Little Fockers, How Do You Know, Hall Pass, The Big Year, Cars 2, Midnight in Paris.
Black’s manic energy has won him many hardcore fans. Black’s first Frat Pack connection was with a small role in the Ben Stiller-directed The Cable Guy. Black also collaborated with Stiller, Owen Wilson, and Christine Taylor on the failed TV pilot Heat Vision and Jack. He costarred with Ben Stiller in the critical and financial failure Envy, but Stiller appeared in Black’s Orange County and Black appeared briefly in Anchorman. Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny sealed his status in the Frat Pack. Costarring Black’s Tenacious D partner Kyle Gass and produced by Ben Stiller who is featured in a pivotal cameo, Pick contains many of the male-bonding themes seen in other Frat Pack films, and the plot mixes farce and fantasy to hilarious effect. Black has more recently appeared in starring roles in Tropic Thunder, Year One, and Gulliver’s Travels.
Breakout Role: Manic record store employee Barry in High Fidelity.
Career Highlights: Tenacious D HBO Special, Saving Silverman, Shallow Hal, Orange County, Ice Age, School of Rock, Shark Tale, King Kong, Nacho Libre, The Holiday, Be Kind, Rewind, Tropic Thunder, Year One, Gulliver’s Travels, The Big Year, Bernie.
A junior and part-time Frat Pack member, Carell won over audiences with his hilarious and touching film, The 40 Year-Old Virgin. Directed and co-written by Frat Pack veteran Judd Apatow, the movie had the perfect Frat Pack sensibility. That, along with his scene-stealing role in Anchorman and Frat Pack-like cameo in Will Ferrell’sBewitched has raised awareness of this Daily Show veteran. Carell cemented his Frat Pack status with a hilarious musical number on Saturday Night Live, crooning that he was “one of those guys now.” Many of his film projects have included actors associated with the Frat Pack, such as John Hill and Tina Fey. Carell recently starred opposite Paul Rudd in the farce, Dinner for Schmucks and will be appearing in the Anchorman sequel. Carell has diverse upcoming projects including voice work in Despicable Me 2, indie comedy with The Way, Way Back, and drama in Foxcatcher.
Breakout Role: Daily Show Correspondent
Career Highlights: Gary from The Ambiguously Gay Duo (Saturday Night Live), The Dana Carvey Show, Bruce Almighty, Melinda and Melinda, The Office, Little Miss Sunshine, Evan Almighty, Dan in Real Life, Get Smart, Date Night, Dinner for Schmucks, Despicable Me, Crazy, Stupid, Love, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.
Paul Rudd is roughly the same age as the main Frat Pack members, so he’s a natural fit. Rudd has starred with Jennifer Aniston in The Object of My Affection and is well known to audiences from his roles in Clueless and Friends. He had large supporting roles in two Frat Pack classics, Anchorman and The Forty Year-Old Virgin and cameoed with Ben Stiller in Night at the Museum and Jack Black in Year One and Walk Hard. Rudd went mainstream as a leading man in the ensemble hits Role Models and I Love You, Man. He has costarred opposite Steve Carell in Dinner for Schmucks, Owen Wilson in How Do You Know, and Jennifer Aniston in Wanderlust. Rudd recently toplined This is 40 and will be reteaming for the Anchorman sequel.
Breakout Role: Twisted romantic lead in Clueless
Career Highlights: Clueless, Wet Hot American Summer, The Locusts, The Baxter, The OH in Ohio, I Could Never Be Your Woman, The Ten, Knocked Up, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Role Models, I Love You, Man, Dinner for Schmucks, How Do You Know, Our Idiot Brother, Wanderlust, This is 40.
These actors could make a Carell-like leap into Frat Pack membership with the right starring role and continued work with the rest of the Frat Pack. All of these actors have been referred to as members, pledges, or important Frat Pack friends by various media outlets. We’re not saying that all or even any of these guys definitely will ascend, but it anyone does it’s likely one of these guys.
As for what might “qualify” these guys for inclusion, being “just like Jack Black, but better” in terms of popularity might be a start.
After a low-profile performances in Frat Pack related projects such as Anchorman, Undeclared, and Freaks and Geeks, Seth Rogen blew into the public consciousness with his scene-stealing supporting role as Cal in The Forty Year-Old Virgin. He followed that up another scene-stealing role in Owen Wilson’s You, Me and Dupree. Rogen’s first starring role was in Judd Apatow’s Virgin follow up, Knocked Up, and he write and costarred in the very popular Superbad. He also penned Drillbit Taylor, starring Owen Wilson. Rogen has worked recently in darker material, starring in Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Observe and Report, and Funny People all featuring mature themes. Rogen’s directorial effort This is the End features a host of famous actors playing themselves.
Breakout Role: Romantic Svengali Cal in The Forty Year-Old Virgin
Career Highlights: Freaks and Geeks, Undeclared, You, Me, and Dupree, Knocked Up, Superbad, Pineapple Express, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Fanboys, Observe and Report, Funny People, Green Hornet, Paul, Guilt Trip.
John C. Reilly
An Oscar-nominated actor for Chicago, John C. Reilly has been working with the most respected names in Hollywood for almost 20 years. Yet Reilly is an unexpected rising star amongst the Frat Pack. Reilly’s first Pack connection was playing Sasquatch on Jack Black’s Tenacious D HBO series. After passing on the Champ Kind role in Anchorman (to film The Aviator), Will Ferrell and Adam McKay got Reilly to play Cal Naughton Jr. in Talladega Nights. With lead roles in Ferrell/McKay’s Step Brothersand the Judd Apatow-written Walk Hard, and a cameo as Sasquatch for Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny, Reilly’s Frat Pack future is bright. He solidified his Pledge status with his crowd-pleasing Ferrell/Black/McKay/Apatow “Comedian at the Oscars” collaboration.
Breakout Role: Debut role in Casualties of War (expanded after his casting)
Career Highlights: State of Grace, Days of Thunder, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, The Perfect Storm, The Good Girl, The Hours, Chicago, Gangs of New York, A Prairie Home Companion, Year of the Dog, The Promotion, Step Brothers, Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant, Cyrus, Cedar Rapids, Wreck-it Ralph.
Danny McBride’s breakthrough role came in the indie comedy The Foot Fist Way, which garnered cult acclaim among the comedy elite. So impressive was McBride’s performance, he was soon cast opposite many of the Frat Pack stars. His key roles include The Heartbreak Kid and Tropic Thunder opposite Ben Stiller, a great bad-guy in Drillbit Taylor with Owen Wilson, and the man who would not die in Pineapple Express with Seth Rogen. His HBO series Eastbound & Down is produced by Will Ferrell and was co-created with Foot Fist director Jody Hill. McBride’s down-home persona has been well-tapped in films like Land of the Lost and Hot Rod, but he stretched as an actor in the critically acclaimed Up in the Air. McBride seemed set for stardom with two 2011 comedies, Your Highness with James Franco and Natalie Portman, and 30 Minutes or Less with Aziz Ansari but box office returns were weak. Critical reviews for season three of Eastbound & Down were excellent and McBride is among the ensemble for This is the End.
Breakout Role: Arrogant Tae Kwon Do instructor Fred Simmons in The Foot Fist Way
Career Highlights: All the Real Girls, Hot Rod, The Heartbreak Kid, Drillbit Taylor, Pineapple Express, Tropic Thunder, Land of the Lost, Up in the Air, Eastbound & Down, Your Highness, 30 Minutes or Less.