Ben Stiller

Along Came Polly

Interviewed by Stella Papamichael

“The ferret people are very touchy ”

Although he's been acting for over 15 years, Ben Stiller made his name with the Farrelly brothers' grossout comedy There's Something About Mary. Since then, his biggest successes have come from comic collborations with writer/director John Hamburg, who co-penned Meet The Parents, and Zoolander - which Stiller also directed. Stiller has teamed with Hamburg once again for the romantic comedy Along came Polly, co-starring Jennifer Aniston.

Do you, like your character Reuben, like to play it safe, or are you a risk taker?

I like to have a plan in terms of my life, but I'm not really that connected to it. I like to keep things a little bit loose. I'm not that rigid. I've done some weird things, like I jumped out of an aeroplane once with somebody attached to my back - who had a parachute attached to them! You know, just for fun. I'd actually broken up with a girlfriend and I was going through this period where I was trying to discover... myself? I took flying lessons. That was pretty stupid.

What's your position on throw pillows?

We do have throw pillows. My wife puts them on every day and I take them off every night. I'm not a fan of throw pillows.

Reuben is a disaster on the dating scene. Could you relate to that?

Yeah, I just hated dating. I was no good at dating. It took so much energy, and the idea of putting the best possible version of yourself out there takes a lot of energy to keep up. I always looked forward to the time when I didn't have to do that any more. So I got married.

You're high on the list of big screen comedians at the moment, but is there anyone working in comedy today that you admire?

I love British humour. It seems like the TV comedy series are much more interesting here. I'm a big fan of people like Steve Coogan and Ricky Gervais.

Hank Azaria has a small part in the film as a French nudist. How could you keep a straight face around him?

Hank is one of the funniest people there is, and one of the fun things on the movie was trying not to crack up while he did his thing. Hank is one of those people who kept on doing what he was doing because his goal was to crack people up the whole time. I definitely didn't want to be cracking up, but he was so funny. And his accent was so ridiculous. We were in Paris and they really didn't care for it.

But you also had to bare your rear end. How awkward was that?

The scene was very quick to do. John [Hamburg, director] promised me that he would cut it out of the movie if it didn't get a laugh. But to this day I still don't know if it gets a laugh because I've never stayed long enough to see it. Also I was told later on that I could have had a double. But nobody told me that at the time.

We hear you also had a tough time working with the ferret...

I was fine with the ferret! I got bitten by him at one point, so I had to get a rabies shot and a tetanus shot. Then I talked about it on a talk show in the United States. I jokingly said I didn't like ferrets, and I got sent about a thousands emails about how ferrets are wonderful. The ferret people are very touchy. I don't have a problem with ferrets - it's the ferret owners that can be dangerous.

You've collaborated with John Hamburg [writer/director] before on Meet The Parents. Will we ever see Meet The Fockers?

We are going to start working on that. John's writing it at the moment and we start shooting in the spring.