Follow Us on Twitter

Night At The Museum 2 - Ben Stiller interview

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

Interview by Michael Edwards

Ben Stiller talks to us about reprising his role as a museum security guard Larry Daley in Night At The Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, what it was like working with a cast of comedy greats such as Ricky Gervais, Robin Williams and Hank Azaria and how he came to be distracted by Amy Adams’ trousers…

Q: There’s a very sweet line in the film which goes, “happiness is doing what you love with people that you love” and I just wondered if you would endorse that and if so why did you still go ahead and make this movie?
Ben Stiller: Yeah, definitely. I think that’s sort of the idea behind the movie. We sort of had to figure out a way to start the second movie because everything was so happy at the end of the first movie; we had to find some sort of problem to begin the next one with, and came up with the idea that Larry [my character] becomes successful and all of the problems that come with success and drawing away from his actual true happiness. Success doesn’t necessarily mean happiness.

Q: How do you feel about Night at the Museum 3 if all goes well with this? Do you see it as something that can go further or may stop here because it doesn’t get any bigger than the Smithsonian?
Ben Stiller: I don’t know. Like I said, with the second one… we had to figure out a reason why the movie would happen and I think we figured that out. The idea of doing a third would be great; I think it would be really fun. It would just be about figuring out something that would sustain itself. I think that there are a few ideas floating around if indeed people want to see a third one. The idea of working with these guys would be great. But I don’t think it could get any bigger; it’d have to be different.

Q. You play someone with quite a boring job in these movies that eventually led to high times. Were there any jobs you had before you got into acting that were quite dull?
Ben Stiller: I was a bus boy. I was a really bad waiter. I waited on Dudley Moore once and I was really interested in what he was talking about so I was you know… leaning in and I think I annoyed him. I also worked in a camera store when I was a teenager, and worked as an assistant scuba diving instructor in Nantucket, Massachusetts for a couple of summers. It all helped me with my career. I was a bad student. I liked archaeology actually, I was interested in maybe becoming an archaeologist but I was such a bad student and had such bad grades that I wasn’t going to get into any really good college so I fell back on acting.

Q. Were you distracted by Amy Adams in those trousers because every male journalist has been talking about them?
Ben Stiller: I enjoyed the trousers. I thought she looked great in them and I was happy to be in scenes with her every day. She’s great. We did laugh a lot, but it was great to hang out with people you admire.

Q. Was it an absolute riot on set? And if so can you give us some examples?
Ben Stiller: It was always very exciting. I remember the first one it was very exciting when Ricky [Gervais] showed up because it had been weeks and weeks of just acting with nothing. Like… running away from a dinosaur, but there’s no dinosaur. Or running away from Attila the Hun… there were no people to really interact with and then Ricky showed up one day and it was just, oh my god… We just laughed a lot.

But it’s always exciting to work with these guys – and Hank [Azaria] too. Hank and I have been friends for a long time. It was great to just sit around in between takes with Christopher Guest and Hank and all these people just talking about comedy – like what Chris Guest’s favourite Abbott and Costello routine is. We all look up to Chris as a comedy god and he’s such a sweet guy and such an interesting person and the fact that he was actually in the movie… I still don’t believe he was in the movie. He came to Shawn [Levy] and said he’d like to be a part of the movie and it’s very exciting to have this group of people and Robin [Williams] too. Robin I cracked up many, many times.

Q: If you had to take home anything from any museum in the world and think, this is really cool, what would it be?
Ben Stiller: I just went to Egypt and I saw King Tut’s mummy, so I’d take something really cool like that.

Q: You got the chance to share a scene with George Foreman. Did you observe his ability to take direction?
Ben Stiller: He took direction. He was great. I was a little in awe because it was George Foreman and it was one of those cool things that we had the idea: wouldn’t it be cool to do an infomercial and then… how about doing an infomercial with George Foreman? And then it happened and all of a sudden he was there.

Q: Was he nervous at all?
Ben Stiller: No, he was great. He was so nice and so positive and so… big.

Read our review of Night At The Museum 2

Read our interview with Ricky Gervais