07/11/2012 12:56 GMT

'The Sapphires' Star Chris O'Dowd: From 'The IT Crowd' To 'Bridesmaids' And Hollywood Heartthrob Status (PICTURES)

Lovable Irish actor Chris O'Dowd unveils his latest big screen offering on Wednesday, this time playing a hapless talent scout, as Australian comedy drama 'The Sapphires' is released in UK cinemas. But his career didn't always look like it was going in the direction of Hollywood...

The 32-year-old first commanded our attention in 'The IT Crowd', playing the slacker technician Roy Trennemana, and now has a career that combines British sitcoms and American films and a huge fan base to boot.

The great comic actor went to University College, Dublin, to study politics, but joined the drama society and fell in love with performing. He dropped out to go to the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art but left in the final term, by which time he was already starting to get work in theatre productions and commercials.

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Chris O'Dowd and his wife Dawn Porter attend the premiere of 'The Sapphires' during the 56th BFI London Film Festival

It was his parts in two Mike Leigh films – 'Vera Drake' and 'Festival' – that first got him noticed, as well as a three-year stint in the Irish medical drama series 'The Clinic', before beginning 'The IT Crowd' in 2006.

As the series came to an end in 2009, O'Dowd jetted off to Los Angeles where he landed his first Hollywood film - a part in Jack Black comedy 'Gulliver’s Travels'.

Then came 'Bridesmaids', the smash hit rom-com in which O'Dowd played love interest officer Nathan Rhodes and swiftly earned heartthrob status.

Something the star is not entirely comfortable with: "I wear that status like a hair vest. It's very fleeting and it's been fun but I'm ensuring that all the characters I play from now on are pretty despicable. I can't be dealing with all that nonsense, because it's not real," he told the Press Association.

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Chris O'Dowd with his 'Bridesmaids' crew

The film grossed $26 million in its opening weekend, eventually grossing over $288 million worldwide. It was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, and scooped two Oscar nominations, one for Best Supporting Actress for Melissa McCarthy and one for Best Original Screenplay.

The success of 'Bridesmaids' meant O'Dowd made it to mainstream consciousness, and he went on to create and star in his own six-part comedy for Sky, 'Mooneboy', set at the end of the Eighties and drawing on O’Dowd’s childhood in the west of Ireland.

He recently completed working with 'Bridesmaid's' producer Judd Apatow on 'This Is 40', a sequel to Aparow's 2007 hit 'Knocked Up' and has two more films, 'Cuban Fury' and 'Calvary', on the way.

Chris O'Dowd