Cover Story: Keeping It in the Family Is Ben's Way; COMIC ACTOR BEN STILLER LOVES WORKING WITH HIS NEAREST AND DEAREST - AND IT SEEMS TOWORK,AS HIS LATEST MOVIE IS COINING IT IN, REVEALS JOHN MILLAR

Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland), August 28, 2004 | Go to article overview

Cover Story: Keeping It in the Family Is Ben's Way; COMIC ACTOR BEN STILLER LOVES WORKING WITH HIS NEAREST AND DEAREST - AND IT SEEMS TOWORK,AS HIS LATEST MOVIE IS COINING IT IN, REVEALS JOHN MILLAR


Byline: JOHN MILLAR

BEN STILLER likes turning his movies into a game of happy families.

When the comedy star directed, produced and co-wrote Zoolander - his spoof on the fashion world - the cast included wife, actress Christine Taylor, his mum and dad and his sister.

Now he's keeping that trend going in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story - a smash-hit US comedy about a daft game in which the object is to smack your opponent with a ball, while avoiding being whacked by the opposing side.

The movie, which he also produced, again features Ben's sister Amy Stiller and his blonde wife, Christine, who appeared alongside Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler in The Wedding Singer. It's no surprise the 38-year-old star, seen recently opposite Owen Wilson in a big screen version of Starsky And Hutch, likes to surround himself with his nearest and dearest.

His parents are veteran comedians Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara and Ben grew up in a showbiz world - even in short trousers hewas acting.

Benand sister Amy created little plays which they acted out in their home.By the time hewas only 10, the youngster was showing the direction hewas going to take in his adult life whenhe started shooting home movies.

It's been suggested play-acting was a means of escape for someone who's been described as shy and awkward.

He says: 'I guess so. It's hard to analyse my childhood.Who knows what the real causes are of what you do? I think I was trying to figure what I wanted to doand I was only a kid.'

From the beginning, Ben was handed some common-sense advice from his parents, who were only too aware of the highs and lows of a showbiz life.

He says: 'The best advice mydad gave mewas, 'If you are going to be in showbusiness, you must really want to do it.' They just kind of let me figure it out, take chances, discover things and allowed me to fail.'

And in a very busy career - in the past year or so he has appeared in half a dozen movies - Ben has lived up to the family's philosophy.

He has enjoyed huge success with films There's Something About Mary and Meet The Parents and proved his versatility inThe Cable Guy, which he directed, and The Royal Tenenbaums. But he has also misfired in comedy duds such as Envy, soon to be released over here after failing to tickle America's funny bone, and the equally disappointing Our House.

With Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Ben Stiller is back on form.The modestly budgeted comedy - it was made for around $20million - has taken more than $112m in America.

But he doesn't try to pretend that the hit comedy is evidence of any golden touch or brilliant perception.

He says: 'We did the movie because wehad a gut feeling it would be fun.We hadno idea how Dodgeball might be received. I thought people might not get it because it is an American thing.The movie is a story about underdogs in a silly sport.You just hope it'll be funny.'

His portrayal of White Goodman, a vain fitness fanatic and gym owner who puts together a heavy-duty Dodgeball team to defeat Vince Vaughn's squad of misfits and then take over his rundown gym, is one of his funniest creations.

Goodman is also unlikeable although Ben refuses to describe him as a comedy villain. 'I just see him as a funny guy who is over the top,' he says.

To be transformed into this Lycra-wearing character, who is all gleaming teeth and feathered hair, Benhad to get really buffed upand discover muscles he never knewhe had. …

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Cover Story: Keeping It in the Family Is Ben's Way; COMIC ACTOR BEN STILLER LOVES WORKING WITH HIS NEAREST AND DEAREST - AND IT SEEMS TOWORK,AS HIS LATEST MOVIE IS COINING IT IN, REVEALS JOHN MILLAR
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