A Frat Pack leader and one of the 21st century’s iconic funny men, Ben Stiller has had a wonderful career in the entertainment industry as an actor, director, and producer. Here are some interesting facts about some of our favorite Ben Stiller movies. They’re really, really ridiculously funny.
39. House of Donald
In the film Tower Heist, the tower used was none other than Donald Trump’s International Hotel and Tower in Manhattan.
38. Family Affair
Coming from a family entrenched in the entertainment industry, Ben Stiller has acted in many films with his parents. In 1995’s Heavyweights, Stiller plays the character of Tony Perkins as well as his father, while his parents played the roles of the Bushkins.
37. Fitness Guy
Tony Perkins is one of Ben Stiller’s first iconic roles, and for the filming of Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, he simply couldn’t help himself from channeling his inner Perkins for the role of White Goodman.
36. Changing Hawks
In The Royal Tenenbaums, the hawk playing Mordecai was actually kidnapped and held for ransom. Due to production restraints, the filmmakers weren’t able to get the hawk back in time, and had to replace the bird for later scenes (you’ll notice the new hawk has more white feathers). But can we go back to people kidnapping a hawk for ransom?
35. Carrey Focker
Greg Focker was originally supposed to be played by Jim Carrey, not Ben Stiller. Carrey was so involved with the film, he actually contributed to the screenplay. It was even his idea to name the character Focker.
34. Fast Lights
The car chase scene in Meet the Parents actually came about because the streetlights in the town really did change that fast; screenwriters rewrote the original scene to fit reality, and it was not a trick of editing.
33. Unbearable Clothing
Greg Focker’s clothes in Meet the Parents were specifically chosen because Stiller did not like them. The decision was made to dress him as uncomfortably as possible to keep him off balance during filming and as uncomfortable as Greg would have been.
32. Can’t Say Bomb
When Meet the Parents is shown on airplanes, the rant that Ben Stiller makes about airplanes is cut from the film.
31. Keep the Tension
During the filming of Meet the Parents, Robert De Niro purposefully kept away from Ben Stiller while on set in order to maintain a tension between their characters while filming. So Method.
30. Cat Calling
Mr. Jinx may be the spirit animal of Meet the Parents. De Niro personally loved the cat so much that he requested that the film have more scenes of the cat, and in between takes he spent his time playing with the feline.
29. His Favorite Film
Stiller had said that There’s Something About Mary is his favorite film he has been in.
There’s Something About Mary is a comedy classic, but some of the comedy was unintentional. For instance, the scene when Stiller’s character Ted is dropped from the stretcher wasn’t scripted, and was simply an accident. However, the Farrelly brothers decided it was too funny not to keep in the film.
27. Real Life
That hilarious zipper scene in There’s Something About Mary actually happened in real life—to the directors’ parents. That’s right, the Farrelly brothers’ parents once had to help a man stuck (literally) in the same situation.
26. Either Or
Stiller almost wasn’t in There’s Something About Mary. After the brothers first chose to cast him, the studio refused the selection. They then chose the then-unknown actor Owen Wilson, who the studio again rejected, before finally conceding and allowing Stiller to be cast.
25. First Choice QB
There’s Something About Mary made NFL star Brett Favre into a pop culture celebrity, and it’s hard to think of the film without the running joke on his name. However, he wasn’t the first football player to be chosen for the role. Steve Young was originally supposed to be in the film, but as a Mormon he pulled out due to the risqué nature of the movie.
24. Can’t Basketball
During the filming of The Cable Guy, which Stiller directed, the scene with the Cable Guy playing basketball was actually mimed without a ball, as Jim Carrey was unable to play basketball and couldn’t even dribble the ball. The ball was added later on in post-production.
23. Crazy Cable Guy
Stiller had originally cast himself in the role of Cable Guy for the film, but felt overwhelmed by acting in the lead role while directing the film, and recast it with the hilarious Jim Carrey, a role it’s now hard to imagine anyone else playing.
22. Same Same
For the filming of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, all of the scenes in Greenland were actually shot in the country of Iceland.
21. Papa in Iceland
Iceland probably prides itself on not having a Papa John’s, but for the filming of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, they had to convert a local bakery into the pizza chain for one scene.
20. Classy Favorite
Stiller is responsible for one of the legendary Dame Helen Mirren’s favorite movies, his 2004 comedy Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. We’ve reached out to ask Queen Elizabeth how she feels, but still no word.
Though Dodgeball is now a Ben Stiller classic, at first Hollywood was unsure about the project. Major studios weren’t interested in the film, and after Stiller’s production company—Red Hour productions—bought it, they still struggled to secure funding to make the movie. Fox eventually backed them, but only after they made the cast and crew take severe pay cuts. So it really was an underdog story.
18. Physical Limits
Dodgeball is a physical sport, and the cast soon remembered that they didn’t actually like the game during the filming of the movie. They trained for a month before they shot the movie, and things got pretty intense. Stiller actually hit costar—and wife—Christine Taylor in the face a few times, which led to some real-life problems between the couple.
17. Patches Throws Hard
Rip Torn is not an actor to mess with, and his character Patches O’Houlihan even less so. During the “dodge a wrench” scene in Dodgeball, he was throwing rubber wrenches at his castmates, but that didn’t stop the props from doing any damage. Torn was tossing the wrenches so hard, he cracked open Justin Long’s eyebrow.
16. Vogue Set
Zoolander is a comedy that is right on the nose, and for good reason. Not only is the comedy really, really, really ridiculously funny, it also took a bite out of reality. The opening sequence, which presents the Male Model of the Year award, was actually shot at a real fashion event—the 2000 VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards.
15. For Owen
In Zoolander, Derek’s arch rival turned best friend Hansel was so hot. And he was so hot because Owen Wilson was so hot at the time. Stiller crafted the role specifically for Wilson, and no one else was considered for the part.
14. No Other Zoolander
Throughout the development of Zoolander, Stiller had cast himself as Derek’s agent, and was still looking for someone to play the lead. Originally believing directing and starring in the film would be too much, he eventually conceded and stepped into the titular role.
13. Daddy’s Here
After switching roles, Stiller needed someone else to play Zoolander’s agent. Well, he wouldn’t have the comedy chops he has if it wasn’t for his father, Jerry Stiller, so naturally that was his first choice for the role.
12. Steely Face
Blue Steel is Zoolander’s signature look. It is also Ben Stiller’s look. The inspiration for the gag came from real life, as it was a face he made whenever looking in the mirror and grooming himself. It wasn’t until his wife pointed out the ridiculousness of the face that he realized he had comedy gold.
11. Yo-Yo Game
Hansel was seriously good at yo-yo, that’s no joke. But it wasn’t Owen Wilson who was pulling off those slick moves. Instead, Stiller was able to land Steve Brown, a professional Yo-Yo master, to do all of the slinging stunts. 2001 was a damn good year for Brown, as not only was he in the hit comedy Zoolander, it was also the same year he was named as a National Yo-Yo Master.
10. Tropic Lightning
The name Tropic Thunder wasn’t pulled out of thin air; it was based on the nickname for the 25th Infantry Division in the United States Army, “Tropic Lightning.” The division was created in 1941 and is still active. There have been several films made about the division, including Platoon and The Thin Red Line, and some notable celebrities have served in the division, including Oliver Stone and Ice-T.
9. Frat Pack Leader
Due to his comedy and high volume of films with Frat Pack members, Ben Stiller is considered the leader of the group. He has appeared in 20 of the 35 “Frat Pack” movies. The actor he has acted alongside the most in these is Owen Wilson.
8. Directorial Side
Because of his comedic roles, many might not realize that Stiller is also an accomplished director, having directed many of his own movies. He made his directorial debut with 1994’s Reality Bites. The film was written by Helen Childress, who was only 19 when she finished the script.
7. Farley Inspiration
Jack Black’s role of Jeff “Fats” Portnoy in Tropic Thunder was written with him in mind, however, he wasn’t the inspiration for the character. Instead, the role was based on the comedy of Chris Farley.
6. Be Easy
Matthew McConaughey was only cast in Tropic Thunder as Rick Peck because Owen Wilson—the actor the role was written for—had attempted suicide before production began. Stiller thought it would be better for his friend to relax without the pressure of making a film, and recast the part.
Tom Cruise came up with his own idea for his character: wouldn’t it be funny to see what a crazy studio executive would be doing while all of these events transpired? Thus, Les Grossman was born. Stiller has stated that everything about the role, from the large hands to the dancing, was created by Cruise himself.
4. Risky Role
Robert Downey Jr. went on to be nominated for an Academy Award for his role as Kirk Lazarus in Tropic Thunder, but he almost didn’t take the part. He was skeptical of playing the character at first because of the blackface makeup. Eventually, he conceded to the comedy of it, as he enjoyed the script and couldn’t pass up the chance to act alongside Ben Stiller and Jack Black.
3. Method as Method
Downey Jr. is a method actor, and for his role as Kirk Lazarus he had to method act being a method actor, no ordinary feat.
2. God’s Army
As ridiculous as it may have seemed in the movie—and what a ridiculous movie Tropic Thunder it is—the Flaming Dragon gang of boys is based on a real-life guerilla army called God’s Army. God’s Army was a group founded by two nine-year-old brothers in Myanmar in 1997.
Zoolander is outrageous, but one scene in particular was so risque, it got the film banned because it showed an attempt on the Malaysian Prime Minister’s life, and the film contains numerous references to his assassination. Malaysia deemed the film unsuitable for its public to see, and banned any showings of the movie.
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