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Benjamin Edward "Ben" Stiller (born November 30, 1965) is an Americanmarker comedian, actor, writer, film director, and producer. He is the son of veteran comedians and actors Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara.

After beginning his acting career with a play, Stiller 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/or produced over fifty films and television shows. His films have grossed more than $2.1 billion, with an average of $78 million per film. In 2008, he starred in the film Tropic Thunder, which he also co-wrote, co-produced, and directed.

Stiller is a member of the comedic acting brotherhood colloquially known as the Frat Pack. With multiple cameo in music videos, television shows, and films, he may be best known for his roles in There's Something About Mary, Meet the Parents, Zoolander, Dodgeball, Tropic Thunder 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.

Early life

Stiller was born in New York Citymarker. His father, Jerry Stiller, is Jewish and his mother Anne Meara, who is of Irish Catholic background, converted to Judaism after marrying his father. His parents frequently took him on the sets of their appearances, including an appearance on The Mike Douglas Show when he was six. 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." His sister, actress Amy Stiller, has made appearances in many of his productions, including The Ben Stiller Show as the Bride of Frankenstein, Reality Bites as a psychic phone operator, and most recently, Tropic Thunder as a script supervisor.

He displayed an early interest in film making and made Super 8 movies with his sister and friends. 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 Citymarker 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.

Stiller attended the Cathedral School in and graduated from the Calhoun Schoolmarker 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 Angelesmarker. After nine months, Stiller left school to move back to New York Citymarker. He made his way through acting classes, auditioning, and trying to find an agent.

Acting career

Beginning career

Stiller landed a role in the Broadwaymarker 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.

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. 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, along with utility player John F. O'Donohue, a former New York City cop with whom Stiller first worked on Back to Brooklyn. 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 canceled.

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 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 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.
Stiller in December 2008
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 Mission: Impossible.

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 Malaysiamarker (as the plot centered on an assassination attempt of a Malaysian prime minister) while shots of the World Trade Centermarker were digitally removed and hidden for the film's release after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

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.

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 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. 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 released in 2008.

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 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. In May 2009, he starred with Amy Adams in the sequel Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian.

Upcoming films

Stiller has several upcoming films, including Little Fockers, a sequel to Meet the Fockers. In 2010, he will star alongside Tom Cruise in a comedy adaptation of The Hardy Boys entitled The Hardy Men, while also producing Oobermind.

The Frat Pack

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 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), Night at the Museum (2006), and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009). 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).

Personal life

Ben 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, whom he met 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 and Tropic Thunder. He and Taylor reside in Hollywood Hillsmarker and have a daughter, Ella Olivia, born April 10, 2002, and a son, Quinlin Dempsey, born July 10, 2005.

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.

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. In interviews in November and December 2006, Stiller claimed that this earlier interview's comment about the disorder was false. In one interview he clarified, "I said jokingly in GQ that I was, like, crazy, and it came out as: Ben Stiller, bipolar manic-depressive!"

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 Star Trek: 30 Years and Beyond to express his love of the show, and in the comedy roast of William Shatner. He frequently references the show in his work, and named his production company "Red Hour Films" after the original Trek episode "Return of the Archons".



Year Film Role Notes
1987 Empire of the Sun Dainty
Hot Pursuit Chris Honeywell
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 Also director
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
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
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 Center Guy Cameo and producer
School for Scoundrels Lonnie
2007 The Heartbreak Kid Eddie Cantrow
2008 Tropic Thunder Tugg Speedman Also writer and director
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa Alex Voice only
2009 Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian Larry Daley
The Marc Pease Experience Jon Gribble
2010 Greenberg Post-production
Little Fockers Greg Focker Filming started July 2009

Director and producer

Year Title Notes
1989 Elvis Stories Director and writer
1994 Reality Bites Director
1996 The Cable Guy Director
1999 Heat Vision and Jack 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
The Ruins Producer
Tropic Thunder Director, producer, and writer
2010 Oobermind Producer

Television work

Year Title Role Notes
1987 Miami Vice Fast Eddie Felcher Single episode
1990 The Ben Stiller Show Himself Director and writer
Working Trash Freddy Novak Television film
1992-1993 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
WWF Raw Is War Himself Special guest host
2000 Freaks and Geeks Secret Service Agent Single episode
2001 Undeclared Rex 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)
2008 Sesame Street Himself Single episode

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 keys to Fred Durst to valet park his 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 appears as a supermarket manager in Travis' video of their 2007 single "Closer".

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.
  • Princeton Universitymarker'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.


  1. "Those 'Little Fockers' find their director." Reel Loop. April 7, 2009.

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

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