The Lowdown: Things You Didn’t Know About Ben Stiller

May 21, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Features

There was a time when Ben Stiller was everywhere.

Shortly after the release of seminal comedy classic There’s Something About Mary (we said ‘seminal’, not….) he was like a walking swine flu.

You just couldn’t escape him, his own brand of infectious humour relentlessly sweeping throughout moviedom until he’d conquered box offices, hearts and curmudgeonly objectionists alike.

After a brief hiatus, he’s back on our screens, recently with Tropic Thunder and now with his follow-up to kiddies favourite Night at the Museum (see what we thought of Night At The Museum 2 with our review here or an Interview with him and Gervais here).

So what’s he been up to these last few years? And before that? You’d be surprised….

1. Despite his seemingly all-conquering box-office clout, Ben holds the prestigious honour of being Razzie-nominated (the awards for works of astonishing crapularity) for five of the six films he starred in during 2004. For the fact-fans amongst you, the films were Along Came Polly, Anchorman, Dodgeball, Envy and Starsky & Hutch. Meet The Fockers survived unscathed.

2. But as his CV attests, Stiller isn’t one to take criticism to heart. The Ben Stiller Show and an early Jack Black TV team-up directed by Stiller – Heat Vision and Jack – was cancelled by FOX after one show, and his prior TV effort The Ben Stiller Show frequently appeared at the bottom of the ratings, even though it post-humously won an Emmy for “Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing in a Variety or Music Program”.

3. Stiller comes from a talented herd, with both his mum and dad starring with him in Zoolander – his dad played agent Maury Ballstein and his mum played a protestor.

4. It doesn’t stop there – Stiller’s mum was in a short film about his sister’s mammary gland – originally titled Amy Stiller’s Breast about an out of work actress who one day sees a picture of the Madonna on her left boob. As you do.

5. Christine Taylor, Stiller’s co-star in Dodgeball and Tropic Thunder, is his real life romantic partner and the couple have two children, Ella and Quinlin.

6. Pre-‘hot famous girlfriend’, Stiller had to make do with just a regular ol’ ‘famous girlfriend’. Back in the day, he wooed walking famine victim Calista Flockhart.

7. In the 15 years since his directorial debut Reality Bites, Stiller has written, directed, starred in and produced over fifty films and TV shows.

8. Stiller is part of the Frat Pack – a comedy brotherhood made up of Jack Black, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughan and Owen and Luke Wilson, Steve Carrell is also a member, but we don’t like him as much.

9. Arguably Stiller’s greatest on-screen moment, the self-directed Zoolander (Blue Steel and Magnum guaranteed to make women across the world go all aquiver) was not so loved in Malaysia, which banned the movie for centering its plot on an assassination attempt of a Malaysian prime minister.

10. Stiller seems to follow in the footsteps of all the great comedians, and has admitted to a dark, psychologically complex character behind that grinning muppety face. In two interviews, he’s stated that he suffers from bipolar disorder. Yet five years later, he claimed his earlier comments were false. Now, we’re not psychologists, but doesn’t that strike you as something someone with bipolar would say? “I’m happy and fine. I’m down and depressed. I’m happy and fine. I’m down and etc.?

Sally McIlhone and Matt Risley