With his heavyset, bug-eyed, and occasionally wild appearance, character actor Dan Fogler suggested a cross between Sam Kinison and Jack Black, but his inventive genius ranked him far higher, inviting frequent comparisons to the likes of John Belushi. Though Fogler would eventually gain recognition as a film star, he rocketed to fame not for his cinematic work but for a most unusual theatrical coup: his evocation of William Barfee, the slightly obnoxious, mucous-ridden, duck-walking braggart at the heart of the Broadway production The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. That show actually evolved from a series of improvisatory exercises cultivated during Fogler's tenure at Boston University (when it was entitled C-R-E-P-U-S-C-L-E) to an off-Broadway show to a white-hot Broadway production that deservedly netted Fogler the 2005 Tony Award for Best Actor.
Of course, Hollywood stardom was not far off, and beginning in 2006 (with a small appearance in the Billy Bob Thornton comedy School for Scoundrels), Fogler did appear onscreen, to consistently enthusiastic notices. He also ascended with incredible rapidity from supporting parts to leads, and invariably chose interesting features, such as the silly sports comedy Balls of Fury (2007), with Fogler as a ping-pong player who must square off against maniacal arch-fiend Christopher Walken, and that same year's comedy The Marconi Brothers, in which Fogler and Brendan Sexton III play brothers who leave the family carpet business to videotape weddings for a living. He also signed on to voice one of the main characters in the 2008 animated feature Horton Hears a Who, adapted from the legendary Dr. Seuss children's book, as well voicing a character in the DreamWorks animated comedy Kung Fu Panda.