Ben Stiller

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Ben Stiller
Ben Stiller 2010 (Cropped).jpg
Stiller filming Tower Heist, 2010
Born
Benjamin Edward Meara Stiller

(1965-11-30) November 30, 1965 (age 55)
New York City, United States
OccupationActor, voice actor, director, producer, screenwriter
Years active1975–present
Spouse(s)
Christine Taylor (m. 2000)
Children2
Parent(s)Jerry Stiller (deceased)
Anne Meara (deceased)
FamilyAmy Stiller (sister)

Benjamin Edward "Ben" Stiller (born November 30, 1965) is an American actor, comedian, voice actor, screenwriter, movie director, and producer. He is best known for his roles in There's Something About Mary, Zoolander (2001), Meet the Parents (2001) (and its 2004 sequel Meet the Fockers).

Stiller has also starred in Flirting with Disaster (1996), Duplex (2003) and Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004) among others. One of the first movies he starred in was Steven Spielberg's Empire of the Sun (1987) Tropic Thunder (2008). He directed Reality Bites (1994) and The Cable Guy (1996).

Early life[change | change source]

Stiller was born in New York City in 1965.[1] His father, Jerry Stiller, was from a Jewish family that immigrated from Poland and Galicia, in Eastern Europe.[2] His mother, Anne Meara, who was of Irish Catholic background, converted to Reform Judaism after marrying his father. She died in 2015.[3][4][5] The family celebrated both Hanukkah and Christmas, and Stiller had a Bar Mitzvah.[6][7] He has said that he is "half Jewish and half Irish Catholic."[8] Stiller's parents frequently took him on the sets of their appearances, including The Mike Douglas Show when he was six.[9] He stated in an interview that he considered his childhood unusual: "In some ways, it was a show-business upbringing—a lot of traveling, a lot of late nights—not what you'd call traditional."[10]

His older sister, Amy, has appeared in many of his productions, including Reality Bites, DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story, and Zoolander. Stiller displayed an early interest in filmmaking and made Super 8 movies with his sister and friends.

At age 9, Stiller made his acting debut as a guest on his mother's short-lived television series, Kate McShane. In the late 1970s, he performed with the New York City troupe NYC's First All Children's Theater, playing several roles, including the title role in Clever Jack and the Magic Beanstalk. After being inspired by the television show Second City Television while in high school, Stiller realized that he wanted to get involved with sketch comedy. During his high school years, he was also the drummer of the post-punk band Capital Punishment, which released the studio album Roadkill in 1982. The band's bassist, Peter Swann, went on to become (as of 2018) an Arizona Court of Appeals Judge. The band reunited in 2018 to release a new EP, titled This is Capital Punishment, for Record Store Day.

Stiller attended The Cathedral School of St. John the Divine and graduated from the Calhoun School in New York in 1983. He started performing on the cabaret circuit as opening act to the cabaret siren Jadin Wong. Stiller then enrolled as a film student at the University of California, Los Angeles. After nine months, Stiller left school to move back to New York City. He made his way through acting classes, auditioning and trying to find an agent.

Career[change | change source]

When he was approximately 15, Stiller obtained a small part with one line on the television soap opera Guiding Light, although in an interview he characterized his performance as poor.[31] He was later cast in a role in the 1986 Broadway revival of John Guare's The House of Blue Leaves, alongside John Mahoney; the production would garner four Tony Awards.

During its run, Stiller produced a satirical mockumentary whose principal was fellow actor Mahoney. Stiller's comedic work was well received by the cast and crew of the play, and he followed up with a 10-minute short titled The Hustler of Money, a parody of the Martin Scorsese film The Color of Money. The film featured him in a send-up of Tom Cruise's character and Mahoney in the Paul Newman role, only this time as a bowling hustler instead of a pool shark. The short got the attention of Saturday Night Live, which aired it in 1987 and two years later offered Stiller a spot as a writer. In the meantime, he had a bit role in Steven Spielberg's Empire of the Sun.

In 1989 Stiller wrote and appeared on Saturday Night Live as a featured performer. However, since the show did not want him to make more short films, he left after four episodes. He then put together Elvis Stories, a short film about a fictitious tabloid focused on recent sightings of Elvis Presley. The film starred friends and co-stars John Cusack, Jeremy Piven, Mike Myers, Andy Dick, and Jeff Kahn. The film was considered a success, and led him to develop the short film Going Back to Brooklyn for MTV; it was a music video starring comedian Colin Quinn that parodied LL Cool J's recent hit "Going Back to Cali".

Producers at MTV were so impressed with Back to Brooklyn that they offered Stiller a 13-episode show in the experimental "vid-com" format. Titled The Ben Stiller Show, this series mixed comedy sketches with music videos and parodied various television shows, music stars, and films. It starred Stiller, along with main writer Jeff Khan and Harry O'Reilly, with his parents and sister making occasional appearances.

Although the show was canceled after its first season, it led to another show titled The Ben Stiller Show, on the Fox Network in 1992. The series aired 12 episodes on Fox, with a 13th unaired episode broadcast by Comedy Central in a later revival.[36] Among the principal writers on The Ben Stiller Show were Stiller and Judd Apatow, with the show featuring the ensemble cast of Stiller, Janeane Garofalo, Andy Dick, and Bob Odenkirk.[37] Both Denise Richards and Jeanne Tripplehorn appeared as extras in various episodes. Throughout its short run, The Ben Stiller Show frequently appeared at the bottom of the ratings, even as it garnered critical acclaim and eventually won an Emmy Award for "Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program" posthumously.

A crowd of people is all looking towards a man at the center who is signing a hat. The crowd is attempting to hand him posters to sign and others are taking pictures using cameras and cell phones.

In the early 1990s Stiller had minor roles in films such as Stella and Highway to Hell as well as a cameo in The Nutt House. In 1992 Stiller was approached to direct Reality Bites, based on a script by Helen Childress. Stiller devoted the next year and a half to rewriting the script with Childress, fundraising, and recruiting cast members for the film. It was eventually released in early 1994, directed by Stiller and featuring him as a co-star. The film was produced by Danny DeVito, who would later direct Stiller's 2003 film Duplex and produce his 2004 film Along Came Polly.

Reality Bites debuted as the highest-grossing film in its opening weekend and received mixed reviews.

Stiller joined his parents in the family film Heavyweights (1995), in which he played two roles, and then had a brief uncredited role in Adam Sandler's Happy Gilmore (1996). Next, he had lead roles in If Lucy Fell and Flirting with Disaster, before tackling his next directorial effort with The Cable Guy, which starred Jim Carrey. Stiller once again was featured in his own film, as twins. The film received mixed reviews, but was noted for paying the highest salary for an actor up to that point, as Carrey received $20 million for his work in the film. The film also connected Stiller with future Frat Pack members Jack Black and Owen Wilson.

Also in 1996, MTV invited Stiller to host the VH1 Fashion Awards. Along with SNL writer Drake Sather, Stiller developed a short film for the awards about a male model known as Derek Zoolander. It was so well received that he developed another short film about the character for the 1997 VH1 Fashion Awards and finally remade the skit into a film.

In 1998 Stiller put aside his directing ambitions to star in a surprise hit with a long-lasting cult following, the Farrelly Brothers' There's Something About Mary, alongside Cameron Diaz. That year, he starred in several dramas, including Zero Effect, Your Friends & Neighbors, and Permanent Midnight. He was invited to take part in hosting the Music Video awards, for which he developed a parody of the Backstreet Boys and performed a sketch with his father, commenting on his current career.

In 1999 he starred in three films, including Mystery Men, where he played a superhero wannabe called Mr. Furious. He returned to directing with a new spoof television series for Fox titled Heat Vision and Jack, starring Jack Black; however, the show was not picked up by Fox after its pilot episode and the series was cancelled.

In 2000, Stiller starred in three more films, including one of his most recognizable roles, a male nurse named Gaylord "Greg" Focker in Meet the Parents, opposite Robert De Niro. The film was well received by critics, grossed over $330 million worldwide, and spawned two sequels. Also in 2000, MTV again invited Stiller to make another short film, and he developed Mission: Improbable, a spoof of Tom Cruise's role in Mission: Impossible II and other films.

In 2001, Stiller directed his third feature film, Zoolander, starring himself as Derek Zoolander. The film featured multiple cameos from a variety of celebrities, including Donald Trump, Paris Hilton, Lenny Kravitz, Heidi Klum, and David Bowie, among others. The film was banned in Malaysia (as the plot centered on an assassination attempt of a Malaysian prime minister),[52] while shots of the World Trade Center were digitally removed and hidden for the film's release after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

After Stiller worked with Owen Wilson in Zoolander, they joined again for The Royal Tenenbaums.

Over the next two years, Stiller continued with the lackluster box office film Duplex, and cameos in Orange County and Nobody Knows Anything! He has guest-starred on several television shows, including an appearance in an episode of the television series The King of Queens in a flashback as the father of the character Arthur (played by Jerry Stiller). He also made a guest appearance on World Wrestling Entertainment's WWE Raw.

In 2004, Stiller appeared in six different films, all of which were comedies, and include some of his highest-grossing films: Starsky & Hutch, Envy, DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (in which he had an uncredited cameo), Along Came Polly and Meet the Fockers. While the critical flop Envy only grossed $14.5 million,[60] the most successful film of these was Meet the Fockers, which grossed over $516.6 million worldwide.

He also made extended guest appearances on Curb Your Enthusiasm and Arrested Development in the same year. In 2005, Stiller appeared in Madagascar, which was his first experience as a voice actor in an animated film. Madagascar was a massive worldwide hit, and spawned the sequels Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa in 2008 and Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted in 2012.

In 2006, Stiller had cameo roles in School for Scoundrels and Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny; he was executive producer of the latter. In December 2006, he had the lead role in Night at the Museum. Although not a critical favorite, it earned over $115 million in ten days.

In 2007, Stiller starred alongside Malin Åkerman in the romantic comedy The Heartbreak Kid. The film earned over $100 million worldwide despite receiving mostly negative reviews.

In 2008, Stiller directed, co-wrote, co-produced, and starred in the film Tropic Thunder, with Robert Downey Jr. and Jack Black; Stiller had originally conceived of the film's premise while filming Empire of the Sun in 1987.

In 2009, he starred with Amy Adams in Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian, sequel to Night at the Museum.

In 2010, Stiller made a brief cameo in Joaquin Phoenix's mockumentary I'm Still Here and played the lead role in the comedy-drama Greenberg. He again portrayed Greg Focker in the critically panned but financially successful Little Fockers, the second sequel to Meet the Parents. He had planned to voice the main character in Megamind, but later dropped out while still remaining a producer and voicing a minor character in the film.

In 2011, Stiller starred with Eddie Murphy and Alan Alda in Tower Heist, about a group of maintenance workers planning a heist in a residential skyscraper. He produced, directed, and starred in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which was released in 2013.

In 2018 and 2019, Stiller played Michael Cohen on Saturday Night Live for 6 episodes.

Health[change | change source]

In October 2016, Stiller revealed that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer in June 2014. Following surgery, he received a cancer-free status in September 2014.[11][12][13]

Filmography[change | change source]

Year Title Role Notes
1987 Hot Pursuit Chris Honeywell
1987 Empire of the Sun Dainty
1987 Shoeshine
1988 Fresh Horses Tipton
1989 That's Adequate Chip Lane
1989 Next of Kin Lawrence Isabella
1989 Elvis Stories Bruce
1990 Stella Jim Uptegrove
1990 Working Tra$h Freddy Novak
1991 Highway to Hell Pluto's Cook/Attila The Hun
1992 The Nutt House Pie Thrower Cameo
1994 Reality Bites Michael Grates
1995 Heavyweights Tony Perkis/Tony Perkis Sr.
1996 Happy Gilmore Hal L. (The Evil Nursing Home Orderly Worker) Uncredited
1996 If Lucy Fell Bwick Elias
1996 Flirting with Disaster Mel
1996 The Cable Guy Sam Sweet/Stan Sweet
1998 Zero Effect Steve Arlo
1998 There's Something About Mary Ted Stroehmann
1998 Your Friends & Neighbors Jerry
1998 Permanent Midnight Jerry Stahl
1999 The Suburbans Jay Rose
1999 Mystery Men Mr. Furious
1999 Black and White Mark Clear
2000 The Independent Cop
2000 Keeping the Faith Rabbi Jake Schram
2000 Meet the Parents Gaylord "Greg" Focker
2001 Zoolander Derek Zoolander
2001 The Royal Tenenbaums Chas Tenenbaum
2002 Orange County The Firefighter Cameo
2002 Run Ronnie Run Himself
2003 Nobody Knows Anything! Peach Expert Cameo
2003 Pauly Shore Is Dead Himself Cameo
2004 Along Came Polly Reuben Feffer
2004 Starsky & Hutch David Starsky
2004 Envy Tim Dingman
2004 DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story White Goodman
2004 Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy Arturo Mendes Cameo
2004 Meet the Fockers Gaylord "Greg" Focker
2005 Sledge: The Untold Story Commander
2005 Madagascar Alex the Lion Voice role
2005 A Christmas Caper Voice role; uncredited
2006 Danny Roane: First Time Director Himself
2006 School for Scoundrels Lonnie
2006 Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny The Guitar Center Store SalesGuy Cameo; also producer
2006 Night at the Museum Lawrence "Larry" Daley
2006 In Search of Ted Demme Himself
2006 Awesome; I Fuckin' Shot That! Himself
2007 The Heartbreak Kid Edward "Eddie" Cantrow
2007 Elmo's Christmas Countdown Stiller the Elf (voice)
2008 Tropic Thunder Tugg Speedman
2008 Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa Alex Voice role
2009 Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian Lawrence "Larry" Daley
2009 The Marc Pease Experience Jon Gribble
2010 Greenberg Roger Greenberg
2010 Submarine Soap Opera Star Cameo
2010 The Trip Himself Cameo; uncredited[source?]
2010 Megamind Bernard Cameo voice role
2010 Little Fockers Gaylord "Greg" Focker
2011 Tower Heist Josh Kovaks
2012 Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted Alex Voice role
2012 The Watch Evan Trautwig
2013 He's Way More Famous Than You Himself
2013 Turbo Chet's boss Voice role; uncredited[source?]
2013 The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Walter Mitty
2014 While We're Young Josh
2014 Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb Lawrence "Larry" Daley/Laaa
2016 Zoolander 2 Derek Zoolander
2016 Zoolander: Super Model
2016 Don't Think Twice Himself
2017 The Meyerowitz Stories Matthew Meyerowitz
2017 Brad's Status Brad Sloan

References[change | change source]

  1. "Ben Stiller Biography". A&E Television Networks. Retrieved January 10, 2014.[permanent dead link]
  2. Stiller, Jerry (2000). Married to Laughter: A Love Story Featuring Anne Meara - Jerry Stiller. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-0-7432-1146-8. Retrieved 2014-01-10.
  3. Wallace, Debra (November 19, 1999). "Stiller 'softy' in real life". Jewish News of Greater Phoenix. Retrieved January 10, 2014.
  4. "Finding an Afterlife as a Playwright". Los Angeles Times. Mar 1, 1998. Retrieved Aug 10, 2013.
  5. O'Toole, Lesley (December 22, 2006). "Ben Stiller:'Doing comedy is scary'". The Independent. London. Retrieved January 10, 2014.
  6. Longsdorf, Amy (December 3, 2010). "Christine Taylor: Sweet for the holidays". The Morning Call. Retrieved 2014-01-10.
  7. Stated on Inside the Actors Studio, 2001
  8. "Ben Stiller on "Friday Night with Jonathan Ross"". Archived from the original on 2016-10-11. Retrieved 2017-08-30.
  9. McIntee, Michael Z. "Monday, May 30, 2005, Show #2366 recap". Late Show with David Letterman. Archived from the original on May 14, 2007. Retrieved January 10, 2014.
  10. Masello, Robert (November 28, 2006). "What makes Ben Stiller funny?". Parade. Retrieved January 10, 2014.
  11. Shoard, Catherine (October 4, 2016). "Ben Stiller speaks about diagnosis with prostate cancer". The Guardian. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
  12. Hautman, Nicholas (October 4, 2016). "Ben Stiller Reveals He Was Diagnosed With Prostate Cancer". Us Weekly. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
  13. "Hollywood actor Ben Stiller reveals he had prostate cancer but is now cancer-free". BBC News. October 4, 2016. Retrieved October 4, 2016.

Ben Stiller at the Jonathan Ross Show.

Other websites[change | change source]