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, 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. In 2008, Stiller starred in the movie Tropic Thunder, which he also co-wrote, co-produced, and directed.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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) 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 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 $516.5 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, due 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.
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 Obamas, 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 Hollywood.com, 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 said: "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 occasionally references the show in his work.
|1987||Empire of the Sun||Dainty|
|Hot Pursuit||Chris Honeywell|
|1989||Next of Kin||Lawrence Isabella|
|That's Adequate||Chip Lane|
|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|
|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|
|2001||The Royal Tenenbaums||Chas Tenenbaum|
|Zoolander||Derek Zoolander||earned salary of $2,500,000|
|2002||Orange County||The Firefighter||cameo|
|Run Ronnie Run||Himself|
|2003||Nobody Knows Anything!||Peach Expert||cameo|
|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|
|Starsky & Hutch||David Starsky|
|Along Came Polly||Reuben Feffer|
|2005||Danny Roane: First Time Director||Himself|
|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||Tugg Speedman||Also Writer and Director|
|The Marc Pease Experience||Jon Gribble||completed|
|Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa||Alex||voice only; post-production|
|2009||Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian||Larry Daley||filming|
|Little Fockers||Gaylord 'Greg' Focker||pre-production|
|1989||Elvis Stories||director and writer|
|1996||The Cable Guy||director|
|1999||Heat Vision and Jack||director|
|2001||Zoolander||director, producer, and writer|
|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|
|Tropic Thunder||director, producer, and writer|
|Gods Behaving Badly||producer|
|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|
|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|
|Family Guy||Black Knight||voice only; single episode (uncredited)||2004||Curb Your Enthusiasm||Himself||three episodes|
|2004-2006||Arrested Development||Tony Wonder||four episodes|
|2007||Family Guy||Himself||voice only; single episode (uncredited)|