Stiller filming Tower Heist, 2010
|Born||Benjamin Edward Stiller
November 30, 1965
New York City, New York, United States
|Occupation||Actor, comedian, filmmaker|
|Spouse(s)||Christine Taylor (m. 2000)|
|Family||Amy Stiller (sister)|
After beginning his acting career with a play, Stiller wrote several mockumentaries, and was offered his own show entitled The Ben Stiller Show, which he produced and hosted for its entire 13 episode run. Having previously acted in television, he began acting in films; he made his directorial debut with Reality Bites. Throughout his career he has written, starred in, directed, and/or produced more than 50 films, including The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Zoolander, There's Something About Mary, Meet the Parents, DodgeBall, Tropic Thunder, the Madagascar series, Night at the Museum, and its sequels Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian and Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb. In addition, he has had multiple cameos in music videos, television shows, and films.
Stiller is a member of the comedic acting brotherhood colloquially known as the Frat Pack. His films have grossed more than $2.6 billion in Canada and the United States, with an average of $79 million per film. Throughout his career, he has received multiple awards and honors, including an Emmy Award, multiple MTV Movie Awards, and a Teen Choice Award.
Stiller was born in New York City in 1965. His father, comedian and actor Jerry Stiller, is from a Jewish family that emigrated from Poland and Galicia in Eastern Europe. His mother, Anne Meara, who has an Irish Catholic background, converted to Reform Judaism after marrying his father. The family was "never very religious" and celebrated both Hanukkah and Christmas; Stiller had a Bar Mitzvah. Stiller's parents frequently took him on the sets of their appearances, including The Mike Douglas Show when he was six. 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." His elder sister, Amy, has made appearances 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 nine years old, he 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.
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.
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. 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. His comedic work was well received by the cast and crew of the play, and he followed up with a 10-minute short called 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 him a spot as a writer. In the meantime, he also had a bit part 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 another film titled Going Back to Brooklyn for MTV.
The Ben Stiller Show
Decision makers 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 occasional appearances by his parents Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, and sister Amy Stiller.
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. 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. 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" post-humously.
After a few minor roles in the early 1990s, in films such as Stella, Highway to Hell and in a cameo, The Nutt House, Stiller devoted his time to writing, fundraising, recruiting cast members, starring in, and directing Reality Bites. The film was produced by Danny DeVito, who later directed Stiller's 2003 film Duplex and produced the 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 Jim 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, which accelerated Stiller's acting career. That year, he also starred in several dramas, including Zero Effect, Your Friends & Neighbors, and Permanent Midnight. Stiller 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 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) 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 together again for The Royal Tenenbaums. Over the next two years, Stiller continued with the lackluster box office film Duplex and several cameos in Orange County and Nobody Knows Anything!. He also 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. They include Starsky & Hutch, Envy, DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story, an uncredited cameo in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Along Came Polly and Meet the Fockers. While the critical flop Envy only grossed $14.5 million worldwide, his most successful film of the year was Meet the Fockers, which grossed over $516.6 million worldwide. As well as these, he also made extended guest appearances on Curb Your Enthusiasm and Arrested Development in the same year. In 2005, Stiller began his first attempt at a computer-animated film with Madagascar, which performed so well at the box office that it resulted in a sequel released in 2008 and another in 2012.
In 2006, Stiller had cameo roles in School for Scoundrels and Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny, for which he served as executive producer. In December, Stiller starred in the lead role of 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. Tropic Thunder, a film he directed, co-wrote and co-produced, and in which he starred with Robert Downey, Jr. and Jack Black, was released on August 13, 2008. In May 2009, he starred with Amy Adams in the sequel Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian. 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 yet successful Little Fockers, the second sequel to Meet the Parents. Stiller 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.
Stiller produced, directed, and starred in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which was released in 2013.
Stiller is the "acknowledged leader" of the Frat Pack, a core group of actors that has worked together in multiple films. The group includes Jack Black, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, Luke Wilson, and Steve Carell. Stiller has been acknowledged as the leader of the group due to his multiple cameos and for his consistent use of the other members in roles in films which he produces and directs. He has appeared the most with Owen Wilson—in eleven films. Of the 35 primary films that are considered Frat Pack films, Stiller has been involved with 20, in some capacity. He is also the only member of this group to have appeared in a Brat Pack film (Fresh Horses).
Stiller dated several actresses during his early television and film career, including Jeanne Tripplehorn, Calista Flockhart, and Amanda Peet. In May 2000, Stiller married Christine Taylor at an oceanfront ceremony in Kauai, Hawaii. He met her while filming a never-broadcast television pilot for the Fox Broadcasting network called Heat Vision and Jack, which starred Jack Black.
The couple appeared onscreen together in Zoolander, DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story, Tropic Thunder, and Arrested Development. Both he and his wife reside in Westchester County, New York. The couple have two children, a daughter, Ella Olivia, born April 9, 2002, and a son, Quinlin Dempsey, born July 10, 2005. Quinlin shared the role of his father's character, Alex, as a cub, with another boy named Declan Swift, in Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa.
Stiller is a supporter of the Democratic Party and donated money to John Kerry's 2004 U.S. Presidential campaign. In February 2007, Stiller attended a fundraiser for Barack Obama and later donated to the 2008 U.S. Presidential campaigns of Democrats Obama, John Edwards, and Hillary Clinton. Stiller is also a supporter of several charities, including Declare Yourself, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, and the Starlight Starbright Children's Foundation. Stiller is actively involved in support of animal rights. In 2010, Stiller joined Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Robin Williams, and other Hollywood stars in "The Cove PSA: My Friend is... ", an effort to stop the slaughter of dolphins and protect the Japanese population from the toxic levels of mercury found in dolphin meat.
Stiller frequently does impersonations of many of his favorite performers, including Bono, Tom Cruise, Bruce Springsteen, and David Blaine. In an interview with Parade, he commented that Robert Klein, George Carlin, and Jimmie Walker were inspirations for his comedy career. Stiller is also a self-professed Trekkie and appeared in the television special Star Trek: 30 Years and Beyond to express his love of the show, as well as a comedy roast for William Shatner. He frequently references the show in his work, and named his production company Red Hour Productions after the original Star Trek episode "The Return of the Archons".
Awards and honors
- Stiller was awarded an Emmy Award for "Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program" for his work on The Ben Stiller Show.
- He has been nominated twelve times for the Teen Choice Awards and won once for "Choice Hissy Fit" for his work in Zoolander. He also was nominated by the MTV Movie Awards thirteen times and won three times for "Best Fight" in There's Something About Mary, "Best Comedic Performance" in Meet the Parents, and "Best Villain" in DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story.
- Princeton University's Class of 2005 inducted Stiller as an honorary member of the class during its "Senior Week" in April 2005.
- On February 23, 2007, Stiller received the Hasty Pudding Man of the Year award from Harvard's Hasty Pudding Theatricals. According to the organization, the award is given to performers who give a lasting and impressive contribution to the world of entertainment.
- On March 31, 2007, Stiller received the "Wannabe Award" from the Kids' Choice Awards.
- On May 31, 2009, Stiller received the MTV Generation Award, at the 2009 MTV Movie Awards. It is the ceremony's top honor.
- In 2011 he was awarded the BAFTA Britannia - Charlie Chaplin Britannia Award for Excellence in Comedy by BAFTA Los Angeles.
- Stiller was nominated for Best Actor at the 40th Saturn Awards for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
- "Their House Won't Be Stiller They Had a Baby" (Registration required). Seattle Post-Intelligencer. April 17, 2002. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
- "Ben Stiller – Actor". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved Aug 10, 2013.
- "Ben Stiller Biography". A&E Television Networks. Archived from the original on April 27, 2014. Retrieved July 21, 2011.
- Married to Laughter: A Love Story Featuring Anne Meara - Jerry Stiller. Google Books. Retrieved 2013-06-25.
- Wallace, Debra (November 19, 1999). "Stiller 'softy' in real life". Jewish News of Greater Phoenix. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
- "Finding an Afterlife as a Playwright". Los Angeles Times. Mar 1, 1998. Retrieved Aug 10, 2013.
- O'Toole, Lesley (December 22, 2006). "Ben Stiller:'Doing comedy is scary'". The Independent (London). Retrieved Aug 10, 2013.
- Longsdorf, Amy (December 3, 2010). "Christine Taylor: Sweet for the holidays". The Morning Call. Retrieved 2010-12-05.
- Stated on Inside the Actors Studio, 2001
- McIntee, Michael Z. "Monday, May 30, 2005, Show #2366 recap". Late Show with David Letterman. Archived from the original on May 14, 2007. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
- Masello, Robert (November 28, 2006). "What makes Ben Stiller funny?". Parade. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
- Bruni, Frank (February 22, 1994). "Generation-X man Mercurial Ben Stiller gets raves for twentysomething flick" (Registration required). The Spectator. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
- Millar, John (August 28, 2004). "Keeping it in the family is Ben's way" (Registration required). Daily Record. Retrieved Aug 10, 2013.
- Mitchell, Elvis (September 28, 2001). "A Lost Boy in a Plot to Keep The Fashion Industry Afloat". The New York Times. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
- Wood, Gaby (March 14, 2004). "The geek who stole Hollywood". The Guardian (London: guardian.co.uk). Retrieved March 29, 2009.
- McCarthy, Ellen (December 22, 2006). "Ben Stiller Isn't Funny. Or So He Says..." (Fee required). The Washington Post. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
- "NOTABLE ALUMNI ACTORS". UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. Retrieved September 29, 2014.
- Wills, Dominic. "Ben Stiller Biography". Tiscali. Archived from the original on February 17, 2009. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
- "Something Something Japanese". Conan. Season 2. Episode 121. July 26, 2012. TBS.
- Svetkey, Benjamin (October 16, 1992). "Our Son the Comedian". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on January 13, 2010. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
- Wickstrom, Andy (January 5, 1990). "The King Lives in 'Elvis Stories'". Boca Raton News. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
- "Stiller gets serious" (Registration required). The Washington Post. September 28, 2001. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
- Wills, Dominic. "Ben Stiller – Biography". Tiscali. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
- Bianculli, David (August 24, 1995). "'Stiller' Gonna Make Sat. Night Livelier". New York Daily News. Retrieved Aug 10, 2013.
- Kushner, David (March 26, 1999). "Jokers Mild". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 11, 2010.
- Wolk, Josh (December 5, 2003). "Stiller Standing". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on April 25, 2009. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
- Read, Kimberly; Purse, Marsia (August 4, 2007). "Ben Stiller – Actor/Comedian". About.com. Archived from the original on February 14, 2009. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
- "Ben Stiller Finds 'Reality' is in the Genes". New Straits Times. February 15, 1994. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
- "Reality Bites Weekend Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 11, 2010.
- "Reality Bites (1993)". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on February 13, 2010. Retrieved January 11, 2010.
- Holden, Stephen (February 17, 1995). "Spoofing the TV Gurus of Fitness". The New York Times. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
- Lowry, Brian (February 19, 1996). "Happy Gilmore". Variety. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
- Waxman, Sharon (July 23, 1996). "Stiller Standing" (Fee required). The Washington Post. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
- "Madonna Rules at Routine MTV Video Music Awards" (Registration required). Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. September 12, 1998. Retrieved January 11, 2010.
- Lawrence, Will (September 28, 2007). "Ben Stiller behaving badly". London: guardian.co.uk. Retrieved January 11, 2010.
- Turan, Kenneth (October 6, 2000). "Meet the Parents". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on Oct 27, 2007. Retrieved January 11, 2010.
- "Meet the Parents". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on January 6, 2010. Retrieved January 13, 2010.
- "Meet the Parents". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on January 30, 2010. Retrieved January 13, 2010.
- Mills, Nancy (October 3, 2007). "Bride of Ben". The Record. Retrieved January 11, 2010.
- "Zoolander faces Malaysian censorship controversy". London: guardian.co.uk. March 5, 2002. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
- Maher, Kevin (June 30, 2002). "Back with a bang". The Observer (London). Retrieved March 29, 2009.
- Macaulay, Sean (January 20, 2004). "Ben there, done that". The Times (London). Retrieved January 13, 2010.
- Patterson, John (January 14, 2002). "Strange Fruit". London: guardian.co.uk. Retrieved January 13, 2010.
- Watts, Duncan J. "Nobody Knows Anything (2003)". The New York Times. Retrieved January 13, 2010.
- Breznican, Anthony (December 12, 2006). "'Museum' Exhibits Funny Pals; Ben Stiller's Key to Success: One For All, All For One" (Fee required). USA Today. Retrieved January 13, 2010.
- Clark, Tim (July 31, 2000). "PPV's Cure for the Summertime Blues". Cable World. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
- "Envy". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
- "Meet the Fockers". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on March 31, 2009. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
- "Night at the Museum – Daily Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
- "The Heartbreak Kid". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 11, 2010.
- "The Heartbreak Kid". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on February 13, 2010. Retrieved January 11, 2010.
- Siegel, Tatiana (June 2, 2008). "Ed Helms mans 'Manure'". Variety. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
- "DreamWorks Animation Acquires Superhero Spoof". VFX World. April 3, 2007. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
- Kit, Borys (October 13, 2010). "Eddie Murphy to Star in "Tower Heist"". ABC News. Retrieved January 6, 2010.
- "Learn More". Frat Pack Tribute. Archived from the original on July 28, 2010. Retrieved Jul 13, 2010.
- Wloszczyna, Susan (July 13, 2006). "'Frat Pack' splits". USA Today. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
- Wloszczyna, Susan (June 17, 2004). "These guys would be great to hang out with". USA Today. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
- "Ben Stiller". Yahoo!. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
- "Ben Stiller's funny charms". Monsters and Critics. December 16, 2006. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
- Errico, Marcus (May 16, 2000). "Ben Stiller Hitched!". E!. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
- Buzzle Staff and Agencies (April 16, 2002). "Ben Stiller, Christine Taylor Welcome a Girl". Buzzle.com. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
- Tulloch, Lee (November 16, 2013). "Ben Stiller in the moment". The Sydney Morning Herald.
- Thompson, Bob (December 16, 2006). "Group Outing". National Post. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
- "Ben Stiller's Federal Campaign Contribution Report". Newsmeat. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
- Kaufman, Gil (July 17, 2007). "Will Smith, Ben Stiller, Even Paulie Walnuts Open Wallets for Presidential Candidates". MTV. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
- "Ben Stiller Charity Information". Look to the Stars. Archived from the original on March 20, 2009. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
- "The religion and political views of Ben Stiller". hollow verse.com. Retrieved 2014-10-20.
- Hollywood and “The Cove” Join Forces for Dolphin Awareness: Ben Stiller, Jennifer Aniston and friends appear in The Cove PSA directed by Andrés Useche
- "'Five Year Mission' Enters 31st Season". The Daily Courier (Google News). Associated Press. October 7, 1996. Retrieved January 13, 2010.
- "Holy Shat! Insults Fly at Comedy Central Roast". Startrek.com. August 15, 2006. Retrieved January 13, 2010.
- Silverstein, Adam (April 19, 2009). "Stiller: 'J.J. Abrams did great job'". Digital Spy. Retrieved January 13, 2010.
- "Awards for Ben Stiller". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
- Senn, Tom (April 19, 2005). "Comedian Stiller performs at Class of 2005 event". The Daily Princetonian. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
- "Ben Stiller, Scarlett Johansson to receive Hasty Pudding awards at Harvard". International Herald Tribune. Associated Press. January 29, 2007. Archived from the original on September 3, 2007. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
- Rogers, John (April 1, 2007). "Ben Stiller wins top Kids Choice prize – the Wannabe". The Eagle. Archived from the original on October 12, 2007. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
- "Ben Stiller to receive MTV honour". BBC. May 23, 2009. Retrieved March 25, 2010.
- Dave McNary (August 23, 2011). "BAFTA/L.A. award to Ben Stiller". Variety (Reed Elsevier Inc.). Retrieved July 31, 2012.
- Bankston, John. Ben Stiller (Real-Life Reader Biography). Mitchell Lane Publishers, 2002. ISBN 1-58415-132-3.
- Dougherty, Terri. Ben Stiller (People in the News). Lucent Books, 2006. ISBN 1-59018-723-7.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ben Stiller.|
Courteney Cox and Jon Lovitz
|MTV Movie Awards host
1996 (with Janeane Garofalo)
|MTV Video Music Awards host