This former stand-up comedian got his first big break as one of Ashton Kutcher’s partners-in-crime on the MTV hidden camera show “Punk’d.” His next success was as a writer/producer/actor on NBC’s “The Office,” where he’s seen onscreen as the office temp-turned-corporate bigwig-turned office drone. His dysfunctional relationship with hyperkinetic customer service rep Kelly is one of the highlights of the show.

His latest effort is as one of the stars of Quentin Tarantino’s new film, Inglourious Basterds. In it, he plays Smithson Utivich, a Jewish-American who’s recruited by Brad Pitt’s character to fight the Nazis. As they perform their acts of retribution and espionage, the Nazis give this ragtag commando group the nickname, “the basterds.”

For this possible once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Novak took a short sabbatical from “The Office” to shoot Basterds.

“Everyone knew this was not just a job for me,” he says. “They knew that this was a dream and an experience, so they went the extra mile to make it work.”

Gone are the days when TV shows will not budge to let actors fit in a movie shoot during TV production, à la Pierce Brosnan not allowed to be James Bond during his “Remington Steele” stint. When TV actors have the chance to broaden their fan base with a big-screen role, many TV productions will try to fit the schedule if possible, because any extra publicity is good for a TV show in this day and age of hundreds of channels to choose from. “Friends” was very accommodating schedule-wise to their popular sextet’s big-screen forays, and the executives at NBC no doubt remember how well that worked out for that little show.

Not only could this broaden Novak’s, thus, “The Office”’s fan base, but Novak was able to work with one of the most exciting and gifted directors of this generation. Surely, some of his observations could be used on “The Office” set.

Of Tarantino’s direction, Novak says, “I have always been fascinated by how Tarantino makes his movies. You kind of see the authorship in the film at work, but you can’t picture how he comes up with stuff. He’s very loud and performative, to watch him transform his ideas on the set was just awesome. It’s like going to the Tarantino film school.”

Plus Tarantino would have movie nights for the cast and crew, showing films that not only inspired him for Inglourious Basterds, but were inspiring to him in general. Since the director is “the general” of the set, if you will, seeing the director’s motivation, helps the cast and crew all be a part of the same vision of what the movie should be.

With Novak wearing so many hats on “The Office,” he found it to be refreshing to only be an actor in Basterds.

“It was a joy because I worked 99 percent of my life as a writer, and to have someone else write for me and to get the opportunity to say Tarantino’s words was once in a lifetime as far as I was concerned. I wasn’t going to fuck it up by throwing in some more B.J. Novak words; it was time to turn off the writer’s side of my brain.”

Novak was also pleasantly surprised that Tarantino watched “The Office.”

“He seems to watch everything,” says Novak. “He did watch ‘The Office.’ He was specific about some jokes and comic timing, and I knew he liked that specifically.”

This fall looks to be a memorable season for Novak with the release of Inglourious Basterds and “The Office” entering its sixth season. Maybe his next big break is still to come.

Inglourious Basterds releases in theaters Aug. 21.