Ben Stiller

Infobox Comedian
name = Ben Stiller

imagesize = 189px
caption = Stiller photographed by Jerry Avenaim, 2006
birth_date = Birth date and age|mf=yes|1965|11|30
birth_name = Benjamin Edward Stiller
birth_place = New York City, New York, U.S.
spouse = Christine Taylor (2000-)
religion = Catholic
yearsactive = 1975 - present
occupation = comedian, actor, producer, screenwriter, director
emmyawards = Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing in a Variety or Music Program
1993 "The Ben Stiller Show"
americancomedyawards = Funniest Actor in a Motion Picture (Leading Role)
2000 "Meet the Parents"

Benjamin Edward "Ben" Stiller (born November 30, 1965) is an Emmy Award-winning American comedian, actor, film producer and director. He is the son of veteran comedians and actors Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara.cite web | title=San Bernardino Sun | work=The Ben Stiller Show | url= | accessdate=December 18 | accessyear=2006] After beginning his acting career with a play, he wrote several mockumentaries, and was offered two of his own shows, both entitled "The Ben Stiller Show". After acting in a few films, Stiller had his directorial debut with "Reality Bites", and has since written, starred in, directed, and produced over fifty films and television shows. His films have grossed $1.38 billion.cite web | title=USAToday | work="Museum" exhibits funny pals | url= | accessdate=December 12 | accessyear=2006]

He is a member of the comedic acting brotherhood colloquially known as the Frat Pack. With multiple cameos in music videos, television shows, and films, he may be best known for his roles in "Heavyweights", "Zoolander", "Starsky and Hutch", "There's Something About Mary", "", "Meet the Parents", and "Night at the Museum". Throughout his career, he has received several awards and honors including an Emmy Award, several MTV Movie Awards, and a Teen Choice Award. In 2008, Stiller starred in the movie "Tropic Thunder", which he also co-wrote, co-produced, and directed.


Early life

Stiller was born in New York City. His father, Jerry Stiller, is Jewish and his mother Anne Meara, who is of Irish Catholic background, converted to Judaism after marrying his father.cite news |last=Wallace |first=Debra |title=Stiller 'softy' in real life |publisher=Jewish News of Greater Phoenix |date=1999-11-19 |url=|accessdate=2007-10-09] cite news |last=O'Toole |first=Lesley |title=Ben Stiller:'Doing comedy is scary' |publisher=The Independent|date=2006-12-22 |url = |accessdate=2008-06-27] His parents frequently took him on the sets of their appearances, including an appearance on "The Mike Douglas Show" when he was six. [cite web | title=Monday, May 30, 2005, Show #2366 recap |work=Late Show with David Letterman |first=Michael Z. |last=McIntee |url= |accessdate=October 10 |accessyear=2008] He admitted 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."cite web |work=Parade |title=What makes Ben Stiller funny? |url= |accessdate=January 6 |accessyear=2007] His older sister, actress Amy Stiller, appeared in his film "Dodgeball" in a short scene as a waitress at a restaurant.cite web | |title=Ben Stiller Bio |url= |accessdate=December 18 |accessyear=2006] He displayed an early interest in film making and made Super 8 movies with his sister and friends.cite web |work=The Guardian |title=The geek who stole Hollywood |first=Gaby |last=Wood |url= |date=March 14, 2004 |accessdate=October 10 |accessyear=2008] At 10 years old, he made his acting debut as a guest on his mother's television series "Kate McShane". In the late 1970s he performed with the New York City troupe NYC's First All Children's Theater, performing in 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.cite news |first=Ellen |last=McCarthy |title=Ben Stiller Isn't Funny. Or So He Says... |url= |publisher=The Washington Post |date=December 22, 2006 |accessdate=October 10, 2008]

Stiller attended the Cathedral School in and graduated from the Calhoun School in New York in 1983. Stiller then enrolled as a film student at the University of California, Los Angeles and joined Beta Theta Pi fraternity.cite web |title=Beta Theta Phi Epsilon Lambda |work=Famous Betas |url= |accessdate=June 27 |accessyear=2008] 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.cite web | title=Tiscali. Film & TV | work=Ben Stiller Biography | url= | accessdate=December 20 | accessyear=2006]

Beginning career

He landed a role in the 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 so well received by the cast and crew of the play that 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 a season of "Saturday Night Live" as a featured performer. However, since the show did not want him to make more short films for the show, he left after five shows. 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 entitled "Back to Brooklyn" for MTV, a music video cable television network.

"The Ben Stiller Show"

MTV was so impressed with "Back to Brooklyn" that they offered producer Jim Jones and director Stiller's No Puzzle Productions a 13-episode show in the experimental "vid-com" format. Entitled "The Ben Stiller Show", this series mixed comedy sketches with music videos. It was one of five such shows that MTV planned in this format, designed to take over after the end of the long run of "Remote Control".Fact|date=September 2008 The show 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, sister Amy Stiller, as well as cameos by Melina Kanakaredes, "Grandpa" Al Lewis, and the multitude of Club MTV dancers including Camille Donatacci, future wife of Kelsey Grammer. Notable were Stiller's impersonations of Tom Cruise, Al Pacino, and William Shatner, and the 1990 FOX lineup of shows including "Booker", "Alien Nation" and "Married with Children". This show was the proving ground for much of Stiller's earliest style development and new gag ideas.

Although the show was canceled after its first season, it led to another show entitled "The Ben Stiller Show" on the Fox Network in 1992. "The Ben Stiller Show" 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 the Emmy for "Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing in a Variety or Music Program" after it was cancelled.cite web | |title=The Ben Stiller Show | url= | accessdate=December 20 | accessyear=2006]

Directorial debut

After a few minor film roles in the early 1990s, such as "Stella", "Highway to Hell", and a cameo in "The Nutt House", Stiller devoted his time to writing, fund raising, recruiting cast members, 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"). Stiller acted in the film, which was praised by some critics. He joined his parents in the family film "Heavyweights", in which he played two roles, and then had a brief uncredited role in Adam Sandler's "Happy Gilmore". 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 being the film for which the highest salary was paid to a star for his work in just one film. Jim Carrey received $20 million for his work in the movie.cite web |work=Channel 4 Film |title=100 Greatest Movie Stars| url= | accessdate=January 6 | accessyear=2007] 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 Stiller developed another short film about the character for the 1997 VH1 Fashion Awards and finally remade the skit into a film.

Comedy career

In 1998, Stiller put aside his directing ambitions to star in "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 entitled "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. 2000 would be a better year for Stiller as he starred in four more films including one of his most recognizable roles, as a male nurse named Greg Focker in "Meet the Parents" opposite Robert De Niro. MTV again invited him to make another short film and he developed "Mission: Improbable", a spoof of Tom Cruise's roles in the films "Risky Business", "Magnolia", "Cocktail", and "".

In 2001, Stiller would direct his third feature film, "Zoolander", which focused on the character Derek Zoolander (played by Stiller) that he developed for the VH1 Fashion Awards. 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)cite web |work=Guardian Unlimited |title=Zoolander faces Malaysian censorship controversy |url= |accessdate=January 6 |accessyear=2007] while shots of the World Trade Center were digitally removed and hidden for the film's release after the September 11 terrorist attacks.cite web |work=September Terror |title=Movies and the Second Day of Infamy |url= |accessdate=January 6 | accessyear=2007]

After Stiller invited Owen Wilson to star in "Zoolander", Wilson returned the favor and invited Stiller to play Chas Tenenbaum in "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 "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.cite web | |title=PPV's Cure for the Summertime Blues |url= | accessdate=January 2 | accessyear=2007]

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", ', an uncredited cameo in ', "Along Came Polly", and "Meet the Fockers". While "Envy" only grossed $14.5 million worldwide,cite web |work=Box Office Mojo |title=ENVY |url= |accessdate=January 6 |accessyear=2007] his most successful film of the year was "Meet the Fockers", which grossed over $516.5 million worldwide.cite web |work=Box Office Mojo |title=MEET THE FOCKERS | url= | accessdate=January 6 | accessyear=2007] In 2005, Stiller would begin his first attempt at a computer-animated film with "Madagascar", which performed so well at the box office that it resulted in a , due in 2008.

In 2006, Stiller had cameo roles in "School for Scoundrels", and "", 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.cite web |work=Box Office Mojo |title=NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM |url= |accessdate=January 6 | accessyear=2007] In 2007, Stiller starred alongside Malin Akerman in the romantic comedy "The Heartbreak Kid". "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.

Upcoming as of September 2008

Stiller has several upcoming films in 2008 and 2009, including '. He will provide a voice for one of the characters in "The Smurfs". In February 2007, "Variety" reported that Stiller would star alongside Jason Schwartzman in the Paramount Vantage film "The Marc Pease Experience", playing a former theater teacher,cite web | |title=Stiller finds Pease | url= | accessdate=February 2 | accessyear=2007] and Twentieth Century Fox announced he would star alongside Tom Cruise in a comedy adaptation of "The Hardy Boys" entitled "Hardy Men".cite web |work=DOSE.CA |title=Tom Cruise, Ben Stiller as Hardy Boys. What Could Possibly Go Wrong? |url= |accessdate=February 17 | accessyear=2007] Stiller will produce the upcoming "Date School". Stiller and Stuart Cornfeld run the Red Hour Productions company, which will produce the comedy television show "Gods Behaving Badly", based on Marie Phillips' novel.cite web |work=Hollywood Reporter |title="Gods" shine on Red Hour's TV foray |url= |date=2007-11-06| accessdate=January 15 | accessyear=2008] In 2009, he will star in the sequel '.

The Frat Pack

Stiller is the "acknowledged leader"cite web |work=Frat Pack Tribute |title=Who are the Frat Pack? | url= | accessdate=December 29 | accessyear=2006] 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 nine films including: "The Cable Guy" (1996), "Permanent Midnight" (1998), "Heat Vision and Jack" (1999 television pilot), "Meet the Parents" (2000), "Zoolander" (2001), "The Royal Tenenbaums" (2001), "Starsky & Hutch" (2004), "Meet the Fockers" (2004), and "Night at the Museum" (2006); the two are set to co-star in "", scheduled for 2009. Of the 34 primary films that are considered Frat Pack movies, 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").

Personal life

Stiller is convert|5|ft|7|in|m|abbr=on tall and left-handed.cite web | |title=Ben Stiller |url= | accessdate=January 2 | accessyear=2007] He dated several actresses during his early television and film career including Jeanne Tripplehorn, Janeane Garofalo, Calista Flockhart and Amanda Peet.cite web |work=Yahoo! |title=Ben Stiller |url=;_ylt=Avdnl1zLWRNAS2XImByvwQa.o9EF | accessdate=December 20 | accessyear=2006] cite web |work=Monsters & Critics |title=Ben Stiller's funny charms |url= | accessdate=December 18 | accessyear=2006] In May 2000, Stiller married Christine Taylor, whom he met while filming a never-broadcast television pilot for the Fox Broadcasting network called "Heat Vision and Jack", which starred Jack Black.cite web | |title=Ben Stiller, Christine Taylor Welcome a Girl | url= | accessdate=December 18 | accessyear=2006] The couple appeared onscreen together in "Zoolander" and "". He and Taylor reside in Hollywood Hills and have a daughter, Ella Olivia, born April 10, 2002, and a son, Quinlin Dempsey, born July 10, 2005.cite web |work=National Post |title=Group Outing |url= | accessdate=December 18 | accessyear=2006]

Stiller is a supporter of the Democratic Party and donated money to John Kerry's 2004 U.S. Presidential campaign.cite web |work=Newsmeat |title=Ben Stiller's Federal Campaign Contribution Report |url= | accessdate=December 18 | accessyear=2006] In February 2007, Stiller attended a fundraiser for Barack Obama and later donated to the 2008 U.S. Presidential campaigns of Democrats Obamas, John Edwards, and Hillary Clinton.cite web |work=Sky Valley Journal|title=Hollywood stars attend Obama fundraiser |url= |accessdate=February 21 | accessyear=2007] cite web |work=MTV |title= Will Smith, Ben Stiller, Even Paulie Walnuts Open Wallets for Presidential Candidates | url= | accessdate=July 24 | accessyear=2007] Stiller is also a supporter of several charities including Declare Yourself, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, and the Starlight Starbright Children's Foundation.cite web |work=Look to the Stars |title=Ben Stiller Charity Information | url= | accessdate=January 6 | accessyear=2007]

In a 1999 interview with "GQ" and later in a 2001 interview with, Stiller stated that he has bipolar disorder, an illness he said that ran in his family.cite web |work=About:Bipolar Disorder |title=Ben Stiller - Actor/Comedian | url= | accessdate=December 18 | accessyear=2006] In interviews in November and December 2006, Stiller claimed that this earlier interview's comment about the disorder was false.cite web |work=The Daily Telegraph |title=Ben at work |url=,22049,20809123-5006011,00.html |accessdate=January 11 | accessyear=2007] In one interview he said: "I said jokingly in "GQ" that I was, like, crazy, and it came out as: Ben Stiller, bipolar manic-depressive!"cite web |work=TimesOnline |title=Clown prince |url=,,20029-2500717,00.html | accessdate=January 11 | accessyear=2007]

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 a self-professed Trekkie, and appeared in a 1977 book on fandom and conventions. He appeared in the TV special "" to express his love of the show, and in the comedy roast of William Shatner. He occasionally references the show in his work.


Acting in film

Music videos

Stiller has joined multiple artists for cameos in their music videos, including:
*Smash Mouth's video for their song "All Star" as it shows scenes of him being portrayed as Mr. Furious from the film "Mystery Men".
*Limp Bizkit's video for their hit song "Rollin"'," in which he gives the keys to friend Fred Durst to watch/park his car--Stiller's friend tells Durst, "Don't scratch it." He also appeared in the hidden track at the end of their album, "Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water".
*Tenacious D's video "Tribute", in which he merely walks across the shot in the mall during the climax of the song.
*P.Diddy's "Bad Boy for Life" video as P. Diddy's neighbor.
*Jack Johnson's music video, "Taylor," in which he runs over a chicken. An extended version of the video features Ben as a pedantic director, frequently interrupting and instructing Jack.
*Beastie Boys' 2006 in-concert movie "Awesome: I Fuckin' Shot That!", when Stiller and his wife appear among the audience members caught on amateur camera footage. Stiller is shown rapping along to three songs, then in a brief vox pops-style interview during the closing credits.
*Stiller appears as a supermarket manager in Travis' video of their 2007 single "Closer".cite web |work=NME |title=Ben Stiller stars in new Travis video | url= | accessdate=March 13 | accessyear=2007]

Awards and honors

*Stiller was awarded an Emmy Award for "Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing in a Variety or Music 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".cite web |work=Internet Movie Database |title=Awards forBen Stiller | url= | accessdate=January 6 | accessyear=2007]
*Princeton University's Class of 2005 inducted Stiller as an honorary member of the class during its "Senior Week" in April 2005.cite web |work=Daily Princetonian |title=Comedian Stiller performs at Class of 2005 event | url= | accessdate=December 18 | accessyear=2006]
*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.cite web |work=Herald Tribune |title=Ben Stiller, Scarlett Johansson to receive Hasty Pudding awards at Harvard |url= | accessdate=January 29 | accessyear=2007]
*On March 31, 2007, Stiller received the "Wannabe Award" from the Kids' Choice Awards.cite web |work=The Eagle |title=Ben Stiller wins top Kids Choice prize - the Wannabe |url= | accessdate=April 1 | accessyear=2007]


Further reading

*Bankston, John. "Ben Stiller (Real-Life Reader Biography)". Mitchell Lane Publishers, 2002. ISBN 1584151323.
*Dougherty, Terri. "Ben Stiller (People in the News)". Lucent Books, 2006. ISBN 1590187237.

External links

*imdb name|id=0001774|name=Ben Stiller

NAME= Stiller, Ben
ALTERNATIVE NAMES= Stiller, Benjamin Edward
SHORT DESCRIPTION=Actor, Comedian, Director, Writer
DATE OF BIRTH= November 30, 1965
PLACE OF BIRTH= New York City, New York, U.S.

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