List of Five: The Straightforward Style of the Polymathic B.J. Novak

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B.J. Novak at home in Los Angeles.

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Jake Michaels for The New York Times

As if working on a laugh line until it’s just right, B. J. Novak has refined his look over the years. The actor and writer, who made his name on the sitcom “The Office” before going on to write and direct episodes of the show, appears this month with Michael Keaton in “The Founder,” a film about Ray Kroc of McDonald’s.

In addition to his television and movie work, Mr. Novak has published a short-story collection, “One More Thing”; a best-selling children’s book, “The Book With No Pictures”; and is the co-developer (with Dev Flaherty) of an app, List. Here, Mr. Novak, a native of…

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