- Benjamin Edward Stiller
November 30, 1965 (age 54)
- Comedian, Actor, Screenwriter, Film Director, Film Producer, Television Director, Television Produce
- Christine Taylor
- Jerry Stiller, Anne Meara
Benjamin Edward "Ben" Stiller (born November 30, 1965) is an American comedian, actor, voice actor, screenwriter, 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 his own show entitled The Ben Stiller Show, which he produced and hosted for its entire run: 13 episodes. Having previously acted in television, he began acting in films; he made his directorial debut with Reality Bites. Throughout his career he has written, starred in, directed, and/or produced over 50 films, including Zoolander, There's Something About Mary, Meet the Parents, Dodgeball, Tropic Thunder, the Madagascar series, Night at the Museum, and the sequel Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. In addition, he has had multiple cameos in music videos, television shows, and films.
Stiller is a member of the comedic acting brotherhood colloquially known as the Frat Pack. His films have grossed more than $2.1 billion in Canada and the United States, with an average of $73 million per film. Throughout his career, he has received several awards and honors, including an Emmy Award, several MTV Movie Awards, and a Teen Choice Award.
Stiller was born in New York City. His father, Jerry Stiller, is from a Jewish family that immigrated from Poland and Galicia, in Eastern Europe. His mother, Anne Meara, who is of Irish Catholic background, converted to Reform Judaism after marrying his father. The family celebrated both Hanukkah and Christmas, and Stiller had a Bar Mitzvah. He has said that he is "half Jewish and half Irish Catholic." Stiller's parents frequently took him on the sets of their appearances, including The Mike Douglas Show when he was six. He stated 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 Reality Bites, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, and Zoolander.
Stiller displayed an early interest in filmmaking, and made Super 8 movies with his sister and friends. At ten 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, playing 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 The Cathedral School of St. John the Divine and graduated from the Calhoun School 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 Angeles. 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.
When he was approximately 15, Stiller obtained a small part with one line on the television soap opera Guiding Light, although in an interview he characterized his performance as poor. He was later cast in a role in the 1986 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 well received by the cast and crew of the play, and 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 Saturday Night Live as a featured performer. However, since the show did not want him to make more short films, he left after four episodes. 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 titled Going Back to Brooklyn for MTV.
The Ben Stiller Show
Decision makers at MTV were so impressed with Back to Brooklyn that they offered Stiller a 13-episode show in the experimental "vid-com" format. Titled The Ben Stiller Show, this series mixed comedy sketches with music videos and 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, and sister Amy Stiller.
Although the show was canceled after its first season, it led to another show titled The Ben Stiller Show, on the Fox Network in 1992. The series 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 an Emmy Award for "Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program" post-humously.
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 at an oceanfront ceremony in Kauai, Hawaii. He met her 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,Tropic Thunder, and Arrested Development. Both he and his wife reside in Westchester County, New York. The couple have two children, a daughter, Ella Olivia, born April 9, 2002, and a son, Quinlin Dempsey, born July 10, 2005. Quinlin shared the role of his father's character, Alex, as a cub, with another boy named Declan Swift, in Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa.