Ben Stiller


  1. Jim Carrey, The Cable Guy, 1995.    First choice Chris Farley had to pass up his biggest pay-cheque of $3m to complete Paramont’s insistence on a second movie with his 1994 Tommy Boyco-star (and pal), David Spade. Stiller (better suited to the Matthew Broderick role) decided to star anddirect.  After a week, Ben realised (like Peter Sellers among others before him) that this was not as easy as Chaplin made it look. He just couldn’t act and direct at the same time. (Not even separately, if truth be told). Adam Sandler was suggested. Inexplicably, as usual. Then, Carrey accepted a record $20m, for what he termed Rosemary’s Babymeets The Odd Couple.  More like a stalker send-up riff on What About Bob? and The King of Comedy.  Critic Roger Ebert said a movie which made us dislike Carrey was a mistake.
  2. Billy Bob Thornton, A Simple Plan, 1998.      In the  mid-90s, as directors like Mike Nichols and  John Boorman hemmed and hawed,  Stiller decided to helm and co-star with Brad Pitt as guys finding stolen  loot and  trying  to get rid of it.
  3. John Turturro, Monkeybone, 2000.      Had to quit voicing the titular role due to  complications with Mystery Men. “There’s an old saying in Hollywood: It’s not the length of your film, it’s how you use it.”
  4. Sam Rockwell, Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind, 2002.     The studio was not sure if new director George Clooney’s choice  (from Galaxy Quest, Charlie’s Angels, The Green Mile) could  carry a movie. His test, however,  was the best.
  5. Adam Goldberg, The Hebrew Hammer, 2003.     Goldberg said he has to make director Jonathan Kesselman’s movie when  he read the line:  “Shabbat shalom, motherfuckers!”
  6. Paul Rudd, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron  Burgundy, 2003.      Ben was named in Will Ferrell and Adam McKay’s script that also called for Dan Aykroyd, Alec Baldwin, Ed Harris… Stiller  made  an uncredited cameo  in the bio of the San Diego KVWN Channel 4 Newsman (Will Ferrell). 

  7. Johnny Depp, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, 2004. 
    Stiller was actually consider….  even after being the record winner of the most Worst Actor Razzie nominations in one year: Along Came Polly, Anchorman: The True Legend of Ron Burgundy, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Envy and Starsky & Hutch. His sixth 2004 film missed the cut: Meet The Fockers. A title that describes them all. Director Tim Burton’s wish list for chocolatier Willy Wnka went from ole Beetlejuice Michael Keaton to… Rowan Atkinson, Dan Aykroyd, Nicolas Cage, Jim Carrey, Chevy Chase, Warwick Davis, Robert De Niro, James Gandolfini, Dwayne Johnson, Ian McKellen, Marilyn Manson, Steve Martin, Bill Murray, Mike Myers, John Neville, Leslie Nielsen, Brad Pitt, Peter Sallis, Jerry Seinfeld, Adam Sandler, Will Smith, Christopher Walken, Robin Williams. And the surviving Monty Python crew (also up for the 1970 version): John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin. Among the five exec producers, author Roald Dahl’s widow, Liccy, wanted her husband’s favourite Willy – Dustin Hoffman.   If not possible she voted for UK comics, Eddie Izzard or David Walliams. She was quite happy with Depp… who found Willy’s voice while riffing on a stoned George W Bush!

  8. Jason Lee, Alvin and the Chipmunks, 2006.   For some reason all the A List – Stiller, Tim Allen, Jim Carrey, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, John Travolta – edged back from becoming Dave Seville – the chipmunks’ adoptive father, songwriter and supplier of that iconic yell: Aallvviinn!!

  9. Michael C Hall, Dexter, TV, 2006-2014.  The Showtime cable network shortlisted 14 stars, from the impossible (Stiller, Dan Aykroyd, Macauley Culkin, Tom Cruise, Sean Penn) to the plausible (John Cusack, Jake Gyllenhaal, James Spader) for the Miami Metro PD bloodstain-splatter analyst moonlighting  as a serial killer… of serial killers.

  10. Will Ferrell, Blades of Glory, 2007.    Ben Stiller and Will Ferrell were the oddest  Olympic skating couple  ever duo ever  until Bensimply  quit.“ Too much like some of my other films” – oh, they were all sex-addicted, improvisational, world figure ice-skating champs, as well?  So  Will  switched roles to partner Jon Heda in Ferrell’s s old role.   All that and the ho hum movie was stolen by a real couple as the villains: Will Arnett and Amy Poehler. 

  11. Simon Baker, Sex and Death 101, 2007.     “I ended up writing the movie that I wanted to see,” said director Daniel Waters (Heathers, 1988), who scripted it on and off for some 15 years. “Ben loved the script and he was thinking of doing it for awhile. I’ve always said that if Ben  had done the film, it would have been the Richard Benjamin movie. With Simon, it ended up kind of being the Warren Beatty movie.”
  12. Matthew McConaughey, Tropic Thunder,  2007.    The idea was born 20 years earlier when auteur Stiller heard his pals in Hamburger Hill and Platoon actually believing their boot camp training made them real soldiers!!  Stiller was first going to play Rick Peck with Keanu Reeves in Stiler’s final role of Tugg Speedman -modeled on Sly Stallone The Younger.
  13. Will Ferrell, Megamind, 2009.     Stiller and Robert Downey Jr were approached for Megamind, a kinda Lex Luthor, versus a kinda Superman (Brad Pitt as Metroman). They were busy. Unfortunately, Ferrell was not.
  14. Jim Carrey, Mr  Popper’s Penguins, 2009.   In order of disappearance, it was Stiller, Jack Black and Owen Wilson up for the Midas-rich Popper inheriting six penguins.
  15. Matt Damon, We Bought A Zoo, 2010.      Again with animals.  The  early idea for Hollywood’s version of Benjamin Mee – who bought The Dartmoor Zoological Park in 2006.   Devon became California for the film,  surprisingly flat from an auteur like Cameron  Crowe. 

  16. Bradley Cooper, Aloha, 2014. 
    Stiller and Reese Witherspoon were the (odd) couple chosen by the usually casting-crackerjack Cameron Crowe.  They quit, so he spent four years re-writing the script and  then upset everybody his admitted “odd or misguided casting choice” of Emma Stone as  the daughter of a  Chinese-Hawaiian father.  Well, she’d been Witherspoon before. Austin Chronicle critic Steve Davis nailed it better than Crowe. The basic narrative problem here is that there’s more backstory than story.”, Sony Pictures co-chairman, Amy Pascal, declared: “I’m never starting a movie again when the script is ridiculous, and we all know it. I don’t care how much I love the director or the actors. It never, not even once, ever works.”

  17. Bryan Cranston, Why Him?, US-Cambodia, 2016.  Here’s the pitch.  We re-tool Meet the Parents… only this time, we have Ben playing De Niro’s  father of the intended  bride marrying James Franco was as a tattoo-covered  Silicon Valley zillionaire.  Fun, no?   No!








 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  17