“Reality Bites” (1994)
“I was developing the movie as a result of the show being cancelled. Danny DeVito, Stacey Sher and Michael Shamberg gave me a chance to direct. That was a big deal — to direct a movie.”
Last year at Sundance for its 18th anni (“I think it was part of Universal’s 100-year anniversary”) Stiller saw it again with an audience. “Parts I thought it still worked. Other parts, ‘I can’t believe I did that!’ You have that perspective with time. Would I want to go back and recut it? Yes. But I’m really happy with what it is too. Especially for that time period for me, what comes up are the personal memories of what was going on in my life at the time.”

“The Cable Guy” (1996)
A critical and box office flop, the film was notorious before it opened due to Jim Carrey’s then record-breaking payday. “Nowadays it’s interesting, I love the movie and I’m happy I did what I did. My big issue with what I did is I wish the ending had gone all the way. I think we pulled our punches.
“It was interesting to have a movie that was not embraced by the critics. The first time is educational because I didn’t know exactly how I felt. I didn’t get depressed. It’s almost like a boxer: You’re hit with a punch and you get knocked down and you don’t quite know what happened. You try to shake it off and get up. I don’t think I knew enough to know what I know now. If I had I wouldn’t have taken the chances we took in that arena. I didn’t have that fence so we did what we did.”

“Flirting With Disaster” (1996)
“At that point I was going between directing and acting and it was a lucky break that David O. Russell wanted to cast me. It wasn’t like people were knocking down the door. Personally I remember what I was going through, which was that the relationship issues in the movies echoed what was going on in my life.”

“There’s Something About Mary”, “Permanent Midnight”, “Your Friends & Neighbors”, “Zero Effect” (all 1998)
“I was working on ‘What Makes Sammy Run,’ with Jerry Stahl, which never got made. Then I did Neil LaBute’s ‘Your Friends & Neighbors,’ ‘Permanent Midnight,’ ‘Zero Effect’ and then ‘Mary’ and that did well and changed the opportunities for me as an actor. The Farrellys had done ‘Dumb and Dumber’ and I remember reading the script and laughing out loud, thinking, ‘This will be really funny or really horrible and nobody will come to see it.’ But they were so much fun to work with, I just had a great time making that movie. Really fun. I don’t think anybody knew what was happening to it. ‘Permanent Midnight’ which for me was a good experience because I became close to Jerry Stahl after working on ‘Sammy.’ “

“Meet the Parents” (2000), “Meet the Fockers” (2004), “Little Fockers” (2010)
“It was a great script and great premise for a movie. I liked (director) Jay Roach and John Hamburg who had worked on the script. The chance to work with De Niro was exciting to me. As we were making the movie, I was getting married and going through the parallel experience of the movie. I never predict or think what a movie will do. You’re just in it and you hope every movie you make will be great. But I do remember thinking, ‘I don’t care what happens, I made a movie with Robert De Niro.'”

“Zoolander” (2001)
“A tough experience but the challenges ended up being rewarding. I hadn’t directed since ‘Cable Guy,’ and at the time the studio didn’t quite understand what it was. You learn a lot on those movies. Then the movie came out two weeks after Sept. 11th. Now it’s a movie that people love and the fans are very dedicated. It’s a nice feeling.”

“Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy”, “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story”, “Envy”, “Starsky & Hutch”, “Along Came Polly” (all 2004)
“That was all in one year? It does seem like a blur, actually. Not ‘Envy,’ but they were Red Hour projects we produced. That was getting our production company going, which is still strong.”

“Night at the Museum” (2006), “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” (2009)
“That was the first time I’d done a ‘family movie,’ but I loved the idea of it because I’d grown up near the Museum of Natural History. It was like indulging my 10-year-old self. At the time people didn’t know if it would work.”

“Tropic Thunder” (2008)
“I co-wrote it with Justin Theroux. We’d started working on that nine years before, and to finally make it after a long period of having it and not thinking we’d ever make it was fun.”
Calling the film, which he produced and starred in as well, “One of my favorite experiences ever,” Stiller cites among the all-star cast Robert Downey Jr. and Jack Black and credits Steven Spielberg as “the force behind getting that movie made. I don’t think other studios would have given us the freedom they did. I think they were filmmakers and they got it.”

“Greenberg” (2010)
“I guess it was a departure. I was a Noah Baumbach fan and happy to work with someone like him with a specific vision. And also with the great cinematographer Harris Savides who died last month (Oct. 9).”

“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” (2013)
“It’s been a year and a half so far and I’m editing it now. It’s a different version of the story than the movie that was made. I didn’t expect how really affected I was when I read Steve Conrad’s script. It’s a pretty simple story of a guy who lives in his head, a daydreamer, someone who can’t live that out in reality.”

American Cinematheque Award: Ben Stiller
Raised on a raucous road | Stiller on Stiller | When Stiller met De Niro to talk ‘Parents