Ben Stiller on Comedy, the Oscars, and His New Movie ‘Greenberg’

Actor-comedian joins the Stern Show to talk all things film

March 25, 2010
Photo: The Howard Stern Show

Ben Stiller stopped by to promote his new movie “Greenberg” and Howard immediately asked why he was making a “small” film. Ben explained: “It’s not about the money at all. It’s about trying to make a good movie…this kind of movie is never gonna be–it’s not gonna get released on that many screens.”

Robin Quivers asked if it was his bid for an Oscar, so Ben joked: “That’s what the ‘Night at the Museum’ movies were.”

Howard commended Ben for being a successful comedic actor who didn’t try and go “serious” all the time.

Ben said he loved to be funny, but now he just had more freedom: “It just becomes a choice you make in the moment…you get to a point where you want to do what’s interesting to you. You don’t wanna keep doing the same thing.”

Robin asked what happened to the “Avatar”-spoofing bit he and “Borat” star Sasha Baron Cohen had planned for the Oscars. “Sasha didn’t do it,” Ben said. “You’d have to ask him [why]. I honestly don’t know what the process was with him…I know that the producers didn’t kill it.”

Howard read Ben a tabloid story claiming he was a “terror” and exhibited “vain, obsessive behavior” on the set of “Meet the Parents,” so Ben joked: “Is it weird to have a full-length mirror by the camera when you shoot?”

Ben added that movie sets were a weird workspace where you’re doing very private work in a public sphere: “It’s sort of a vulnerable place.”

He told the crew he’d recently visited Uganda on a humanitarian aid mission, leading Howard to joke about Robin’s “fact-finding” mission to Guatemala.

Ben laughed: “We found some real good facts there, yeah. I saw a cow being slaughtered.”

Howard complained about the rising popularity of 3D films and Ben agreed, adding films shot with digital cameras to the list. “I’m against it,” he said “I just like regular movies shot on film.”

Before Ben left, a caller asked why “Zoolander” was banned in Malaysia, so Ben explained they weren’t happy with one character — a brainwashed Malaysian Prime Minister: “They did not like that in Malaysia. So the movie was banned there. I don’t think it made a difference.”

Ben also revealed that he was considering making a sequel, prompting Howard to ask for a role if he does make it. “I don’t want to play myself, though. No cameo role. I want to play a villain,” Howard joked.