Stiller’s colleagues sound off on actor

Co-workers share their on-the-set experiences

Patricia Arquette

“Flirting With Disaster”

“The secret to working with Ben Stiller is to know all of the words to ‘Jesus Christ Superstar.’ If Ben is ever in a funk on set, just sing him a song from ‘Jesus Christ Superstar.’ ”

Dustin Hoffman

“Meet the Fockers”

“I had known of Ben as a comedy actor, I guess you’d say. But my first impression, which did not change, was that I was so surprised to see he didn’t work any differently than I do. Many actors don’t come from a stage background. I don’t know Ben’s background, but it felt as if he had that training. He came at the work from an actor point of view, asking the same questions I always ask. You start from the reality: What kind of father was I to him, what kind of son was he to me? You talk it through. And we just clicked.

“I find that actors are either very prepared or not at all, and he’s a very prepared actor, extremely disciplined. He’s very smart and demanding of himself. He plays the edge — his comedy is dangerous, he doesn’t play it safe.

“That may have something to do with the fact that he’s a director. I would guess that he’s always been highly disciplined, but when you’ve directed, you become even more so. The central dynamic he has — a sort of professional intensity — it’s not an accident.”

Janeane Garofalo

“The Ben Stiller Show” regular, “Reality Bites,” “Mystery Men”

” ‘The Ben Stiller Show’ was one of the two best jobs I’ve ever had.”

Jay Roach

Director, “Meet the Parents” and “Meet the Fockers”

“Ben Stiller is the most versatile actor in the business. His performances in comedy films are as excellent and compelling as anyone’s in dramatic films, yet they often work on more levels, including irony and self-deprecating self-awareness. His characters and their predicaments are completely real, and relatable, and very suspenseful, because you worry for him! But they’re also really, really funny. It’s extremely difficult for an actor to achieve compelling ‘truth’ and hilarity in a scene at the same time. Ben makes it look easy. But it’s very, very hard to do.”

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