American actor Zach Galifiankis, who rapidly rose to mainstream popularity with the box-office hit The Hangover (2009), grew up having "a comfortable childhood in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, wonderful parents, a big Greek family that was always laughing." His father was an oil heating vendor while his mother ran a community center for the arts. Zach attended Wilkes Central High School, where he first developed his trademark character -- "an effeminate redneck, with a wildly exaggerated lisp" -- which used to crack up the kids at school. Although he wanted to go into acting right after graduation, Zach fulfilled his parents' wishes and attended North Carolina State University, where he majored in Communication.
After failing his last required course and dropping out of college, Galifianakis came to New York to pursue his once sidetracked dream. While struggling to find his footing as an actor, Zach temped as a house cleaner, a busboy at a downtown strip joint, and a nanny. In 1995, he began doing stand-up gigs in comedy clubs but soon realized his unique brand of comedy was suited for a different kind of venue. In 1997, he finally moved to Los Angeles and landed his television debut role, a recurring character on the NBC Boston Common. During the next five years, he would play bit parts in numerous films including the 2001 comedies Bubble Boy (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Corky Romano (Chris Kattan).
In 2002, VH1 contracted him to host his own late-night comedy show, Late World with Zach, which aired for nine weeks. Soon after and sporting a full beard, Galifianakis portrayed one of his more prominent TV roles as Davis, city morgue superintendent and confidant of Tru Davies (Eliza Dushku) on the FOX drama Tru Calling. After the show got axed, Zach went on to tour with the Comedians of Comedy. He also wrote for, co-produced, and starred as Alan Finger on Comedy Central's Dog Bites Man. 2009 is considered to be Zach's breakout year as he played lead character Alan Garner alongside Ed Helms (The Office) and Bradley Cooper (Alias) in the comedy The Hangover. In addition, he was cast as part of the 3-D animated film G-Force and as a series regular on HBO's original comedy series Bored to Death, co-starring Jason Schwartzman and Ted Danson.… Expand