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Benjamin Edward Stiller (born November 30, 1965) is an Emmy-winning American comedian, actor, film producer and director. He is the son of veteran comedians and actors Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara.[1] 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.[2]

He is a member of the comedic acting brotherhood known as the Frat Pack. With multiple cameos in music videos, television shows, and films, he may be best known for his roles in Zoolander, Starsky and Hutch, There's Something About Mary, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, 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. Stiller's most recent role was in the movie The Heartbreak Kid.

Biography

Early life

Stiller was born in New York City. Stiller's father is Jewish and his mother, who is of Irish Catholic background[citation needed], converted to Judaism after marrying his father.[3] His parents frequently took him on the sets of their appearances, including an appearance on The Mike Douglas Show when he was six.[4] 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."[5] His older sister, actress Amy Stiller, appeared in his movie Dodgeball in a short scene as a waitress at a restaurant.[6] He displayed an early interest in film making and made Super 8 movies with his sister and friends.[4] 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 NYC's First All Children's Theater 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.[7]

After he graduated from Boclair academy in Killermont in 1983, he enrolled as a cleaner at the metropolitan college and joined Beta Theta Pi fraternity[citation needed]. 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.[8]


Beginning career

He landed a role in the Broadway revival of John Guare's The House of Blue Leaves, alongside John Mahoney, a play which later garnered four Tonys.[8] 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.[8] 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 any more short films for the show, he left after five shows.[8] He then put together Elvis Stories, a short film about a fictitious tabloid focused on recent sightings of Elvis Presley. The film starred fellow 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
Main article: The Ben Stiller Show
MTV was so impressed with Back to Brooklyn that they offered Producer Jim Jones and Director Stiller (aka No Puzzle Productions) a 13-episode show in the experimental "vid-com" format entitled The Ben Stiller Show, mixing short comedy sketches with popular 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". 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 entire multitude of Club MTV dancers including Camille Donatacci, future wife of Kelsey Grammer. Particularly notable were Stiller's impersonations of Tom Cruise, Al Pacino, and William Shatner, and the entire 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 himself and Judd Apatow, and the show featured 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.[9]


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 on writing, fund raising, recruiting cast members, and directing Reality Bites.[8] The film was produced by Danny DeVito (who later directed Stiller's 2003 film Duplex and produced the 2004 film Along Came Polly). Stiller also acted in the film, which was praised by some critics. He joined his parents in the family film Heavyweights, in which he played two different 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 he tackled 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.[10] 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.[8]


Comedy career
In 1998, Stiller put aside his directing ambitions to star in There's Something About Mary alongside Cameron Diaz, which skyrocketed Stiller's career. In that same 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 Gaylord 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 Mission: Impossible.

In 2001, Stiller would direct his third feature film, Zoolander, which focused on the character Derek Zoolander (which was also 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)[11] and shots of the World Trade Center had to be digitally removed and hidden for the film's release after the September 11 terrorist attacks.[12][13]

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 on 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 as the father of the character Arthur (who was played by Stiller's father, Jerry Stiller) in a flashback. He also made a special guest appearance on World Wrestling Entertainment's WWE Raw.[14]

2004 would be Stiller's busiest year as he acted in six different films. All six of the films 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. Although Envy only grossed $14.5 million worldwide,[15] his most successful film of the year was Meet the Fockers, which grossed over $516.5 million worldwide.[16] 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 sequel due in 2008.

In 2006, Stiller had two cameos, one in School for Scoundrels, and Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny, of which he was the executive producer. In December, Stiller starred in the lead role of Night at the Museum. Although the film received many poor reviews, the film earned over $115 million in ten days.[17] His most recent film, The Heartbreak Kid, was released on October 5, 2007.


Upcoming work
Stiller has several upcoming films in 2008 and 2009, including Madagascar 2: The Crate Escape. He will provide a voice for one of the characters in The Smurfs, and has completed production for Tropic Thunder, a film he is directing and starring in about a group of actors in a war film who must become commandos themselves when a problem during filming ensues.[18] In February 2007, it was announced that Stiller would star alongside Jason Schwartzman in The Marc Pease Experience as a former theater teacher[19] and star alongside Tom Cruise in a comedy adaptation of The Hardy Boys entitled Hardy Men.[20] When speaking about working with Tom Cruise Stiller said, "I'd be very excited about working with him, because I've always been a huge fan".[21] Stiller will also produce the upcoming Date School. Stiller runs together with Stuart Cornfeld the Red Hour Productions company. The company will produce the comedy television show Gods Behaving Badly based on Marie Phillips' novel.[22] In 2009, he will star in the sequel Night at the Museum 2: Escape from the Smithsonian and Hardy Men.


The Frat Pack
Main article: Frat Pack
Stiller is the "acknowledged leader"[23] of the Frat Pack, a core group of actors that have worked together in multiple films. The group includes actors 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 offering the other members movie roles in films he is involved with while producing and directing.[23] He has co-starred the most with member Owen Wilson, in nine different films including: The Cable Guy (1996), Permanent Midnight (1998), Heat Vision and Jack (1999) (TV), Meet the Parents (2000), Zoolander (2001), The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), Starsky & Hutch (2004), Meet the Fockers (2004), and Night at the Museum (2006). Of the thirty-two primary films that are considered Frat Pack films, Stiller has been involved with twenty of them, in either acting, writing, producing, or directing them. He is also the only member of this group to have appeared in a Brat Pack film (Fresh Horses).


Personal life
Stiller is 5 ft 7 in (1.7 m) tall[5] and left-handed.[24] He dated several actresses during his early television and film career including Jeanne Tripplehorn, Janeane Garofalo, Calista Flockhart, and Amanda Peet.[25][26] In May 2000, Stiller married Christine Taylor, whom he met while filming a never-broadcast television pilot for the FOX network called Heat Vision and Jack, which starred Jack Black.[27] The couple appeared onscreen together in Zoolander and Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. He and Taylor reside in Hollywood Hills[5] and have a daughter, Ella Olivia, born April 10, 2002, and a son, Quinlin Dempsey, born July 10, 2005.[28]

Stiller is a supporter of the Democratic Party and donated money to John Kerry's 2004 U.S. Presidential campaign.[29] In February 2007, Stiller attended a fundraiser for Barack Obama and later donated to Obama's, John Edwards, and Hillary Clinton's 2008 U.S. Presidential campaigns.[30][31][32] Stiller is also a supporter of several charities including Declare Yourself, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, and the Starlight Starbright Children's Foundation.[33]

In a 1999 interview with GQ and later in a 2001 interview with Hollywood.com, Stiller stated that he had bipolar disorder, an illness he said that ran in his family.[34] In two interviews in November and December 2006, Stiller claimed that this earlier interview's comment about the disorder was false.[35] 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!"[36]

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.[5]


Filmography

Acting in film
Year Title Role Other notes
1987 Empire of the Sun Dainty
Hot Pursuit Chris Honeywell
Shoeshine
1988 Fresh Horses Tipton
1989 Next of Kin Lawrence Isabella
Elvis Stories Bruce
That's Adequate Chip Lane
1990 Stella Jim Uptegrove
1992 The Nutt House Pie Thrower cameo
Highway to Hell Pluto's Cook/Attila the Hun
1994 Reality Bites Michael Grates
1995 Heavyweights Tony Perkis/Tony Perkis Sr.
2 Stupid Dogs Tony Robbins-style character
1996 The Cable Guy Sam Sweet/Stan Sweet also director
Flirting with Disaster Mel
If Lucy Fell Bwick Elias
Happy Gilmore Nursing Home Orderly uncredited
1998 Permanent Midnight Jerry Stahl
Your Friends & Neighbors Jerry
There's Something About Mary Ted Stroehmann earned salary of $3,000,000[37]
Zero Effect Steve Arlo
1999 Black and White Mark Clear
Mystery Men Mr. Furious
The Suburbans Jay Rose
2000 Meet the Parents Gaylord 'Greg' Focker
Keeping the Faith Rabbi Jake Schram
The Independent Cop
2001 The Royal Tenenbaums Chas Tenenbaum
Zoolander Derek Zoolander earned salary of $2,500,000[37]
2002 Orange County The Firefighter cameo
Run Ronnie Run Himself
2003 Nobody Knows Anything! Peach Expert cameo
Duplex Alex Rose
Pauly Shore Is Dead Himself cameo
2004 Meet the Fockers Gaylord 'Greg' Focker
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy Arturo Mendes cameo
Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story White Goodman
Envy Tim Dingman
Starsky & Hutch David Starsky
Along Came Polly Reuben Feffer
2005 Danny Roane: First Time Director Himself
Madagascar Alex voice only
Sledge: The Untold Story Commander
2006 Night at the Museum Larry Daley
In Search of Ted Demme Himself
Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny Guitar Store Dude cameo
School for Scoundrels Lonnie cameo
2007 The Heartbreak Kid Eddie Cantrow
2008 Tropic Thunder Speedman awaiting release
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa Alex voice only; post-production
The Marc Pease Experience Jon Dribble post-production
2009 Night at the Museum 2: Escape from the Smithsonian Larry Daley filming


Directing and producing in film and television
Year Title Other notes
1989 Elvis Stories director and writer
1994 Reality Bites director
1996 The Cable Guy director
2001 Zoolander director, producer, and writer
2003 Duplex producer
Crooked Lines executive producer
2004 Starsky & Hutch executive producer
Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story producer
2006 Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny executive producer
2007 Blades of Glory producer
2008 Date School producer
Tropic Thunder director and producer
Unknown Master Mind producer
Gods Behaving Badly producer


Television work
Year Title Role Other notes
1987 Miami Vice Fast Eddie Felcher single episode
1990 The Ben Stiller Show Himself director and writer
Working Trash Freddy Novak television film
1992 The Ben Stiller Show Himself director, producer, and writer
1995 Duckman Harry Medfly voice only; single episode
1997 Friends Tommy single episode
1998 Space Ghost Coast to Coast Himself single episode
1999 Heat Vision and Jack Strip Club DJ director and executive producer
2000 Freaks and Geeks Secret Service Agent single episode
2002 The Simpsons Garth Motherloving voice only; single episode
Prehistoric Planet Narrator first season
The King of Queens Jerry single episode
2004 Curb Your Enthusiasm Himself three episodes
2004-2006 Arrested Development Tony Wonder four episodes
2005 Extras Himself single episode
2007 Family Guy Himself voice only; single episode (uncredited)


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 and tells him "Don't scratch the car." 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 also appears as a supermarket manager in Travis' video of their 2007 single "Closer".[38]

Awards and honors
For his work in The Ben Stiller Show, he was awarded an Emmy Award for "Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing in a Variety or Music Program".[9]
Stiller has the unique honor of being the only actor to be nominated by the Golden Raspberry Awards for Worst Actor for five films in one year.[39] He released six films in 2004 and Meet the Fockers was the only film he was not nominated for.
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.[40]
Princeton University's Class of 2005 inducted Stiller as an honorary member of the class during its "Senior Week" in April 2005.[41]
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.[42]
On March 31, 2007, Stiller received the "Wannabe Award" from the Kids' Choice Awards.[43]

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.

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