Looking back at the career of Ben Stiller

StillerToday in Variety, we also profile American Cinematheque honoree Ben Stiller. In the package, Stiller looks back at his life and career and reflects on specific projects, while Jay Roach describes the pivotal first encounter between Stiller and Robert De Niro before “Meet the Parents.” Here’s a memorable quote from the latter story:

“I met Bob the second time and Ben the first time in New York and it
was a very defining moment for what became the film,” Roach says. “Ben
is a very confident person, but around De Niro he was so eager to
please. He was uneasy and I thought, How can I prolong this? That’s the
movie! There was Robert at the table talking about his CIA experiences
and I thought (although I couldn’t be sure) Ben was sweating and Robert
was talking about lie detectors, and you felt he was tapped into the
leaders of the free world. Robert was this paranoid character. I
realized then how the movie was going to be so much better than I
initially thought.

“Even at that dinner I could sense the anxiety
Ben felt, of hoping the dinner went well but also trying to hide his
anxieties and be cool — and that’s the character he took to such
delicious, excruciating length as Gaylord ‘Greg’ Focker.”

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