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Dodgeball - Ben Stiller Q&A



Compiled by: Jack Foley

Q. You are incredibly buff in this film? Is it work-out or CGI?
A.
The latter, the latter [laughs]. You know, it’s wearing a spandex unitard - they’re unforgiving. And yeah, I had to work out, but it’s such a ridiculous character. The guy’s so silly, so I don’t think it would have mattered if he’d had a pot belly, anyway. He’s just so obsessed with himself, and he does have an issue with his body, and the weight, and obviously he’s had a history with weight problems, and is obsessed with food. So, yeah, I did get into shape….

Q. So what did you do?
A.
What did I do? You know, I played a lot of Dodgeball with children, who keep you in shape, little eight-year-olds moving around. I worked out, or whatever… Whatever you had to do to get into the singlet…

Q. Were you worried, because of the name and the sport depicted, that the film might not travel so well internationally?
A.
I mean I thought that people might not get the name because, obviously, it’s an American thing, pretty much, but the movie itself is a story about underdogs, and it’s a sports movie. I mean, the idea of the movie, really, in the States, is that it’s a sports movie, but a silly sport. So I think hopefully the idea of the characters translates, and the people going through this experience are those you can relate to.
But I never know. I don’t think you ever know if anything’s going to translate, anywhere. When you’re making a movie, you hope it’s going to be funny, but you can’t even think about the world. You’re just thinking about the movie, you know. It’s hard to even think about how it’s going to go over anywhere else.

Q. Your characters seem to learn big life-lessons. Did you learn any on-set, or is there anything you can impart that you really think we should know?
A.
Jeez, you know, honestly, no, no life lessons whatsoever. The thing I learned about doing this movie, is that we did it because we liked the script, and everyone wanted to have fun. That was the most rewarding thing of the whole process - we were all there because we wanted to be there. We did a read through of the script before we all started to make it, and that was sort of the motivation to just go-ahead and say, ‘let’s do this’. We didn’t know how it would be received, or whether people would get Dodgeball, even in America, we were just going off our gut feeling that this would be a really fun experience. To me, the biggest lesson was that following that feeling resulted in a really great experience.

Q. Ben and Vince, this is the third movie you’re made in a year, what with Starsky, Anchorman and now this one, is this a deliberate thing, working together?
A.
I enjoyed it. It was not the way I had envisioned working with Vince, like I never thought this would be the project that we would end up doing the scenes together. But, for years, I’d wanted to work with him since Swingers, and we’ve known each other since then, but it’s been sort of like nothing came together until this year, when all of a sudden. The Anchorman thing just happened… I didn’t even know he was in it.

Q. Was there any sport, while you were at school, you liked playing?
A.
Every sport… I never played any in school, ever.

Q. Ben, as producer, was it your inspired idea to hire Rip Torn?
A.
We were lucky enough to get Rip Torn, who is an incredible actor, so funny. We went to New York to meet him. We went with Ross, the director, and we met a bunch of really interesting people for that part, but Rip was just sort of the perfect guy to play that role. He just has such great comic timing, and you also believe him. There’s a realness behind the character. He wasn’t just playing the funny version, he was just playing the guy very real.

Q. Do you learn a lot from someone like that?
A.
Oh yeah, I think you learn from acting with anybody good. You always get better by working with somebody good in the scene. He’s just a very, very good actor.

Q. White Goodman is incredibly similar to Derek Zoolander? Would you go for another of those sorts of characters?
A.
I don’t know, I never really saw the corolation between the two guys until somebody pointed it out, but they’re both narcissistic. But I think Derek is much more innocent and good-hearted, and White’s self-image is actually… I think Derek’s narcissism is based on the fact that he really does love himself; but I think White actually hates himself.

Q. So are they alter-egos of each other?
A.
Maybe, I don’t know, but I don’t break it down like that. It’s not that complicated.
VINCE: I do, and I would love to sit here and discuss it with you.

Q. In Starsky and Hutch, Vince plays the villain and you play the hero, while in Dodgeball, the roles are reversed. Was that a conscious decision? And how hard is it to play a comedy villain?
A.
Well, first of all, no it wasn’t. We’d been working on the Dodgeball thing before Starsky and Hutch, so it was all kind of happening at the same time. But I don’t look at White as a comedy villain; I just thought of him as a funny character. When I read the character, he was really just funny, and the fact that he was a bad guy, whatever, it wasn’t how do we make him like a funny villain. He had written a really funny, fleshed out, over the top character, and it was very different than what Vince did in Starsky and Hutch, which was a much more reality based villain.
In fact, to me, in Starsky and Hutch, Vince’s character sort of grounds the movie, the same way Vince’s character grounds the movie in Dodgeball. Basically, Vince is a much more realistic actor than I am [laughs]. I think he did such a great job in Starsky and Hutch, because the villain is likeable, and cool, but also real and not over the top.
VINCE: The big difference is that White Goodman is the engine of this movie. A lot of the comedy and a lot of the stuff that’s fun comes from Ben’s character, so it’s not a traditional villain-type. The comedy and the laughter come from it, but the fact that he happens to be the bad guy lends itself to the type of comedy. Obviously, you had to buy into the fact that he was a villain, and obviously shooting someone in the opening scene helps. This is more of an excuse to have an outlandish character.

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