The son of veteran comic actors Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, Ben Stiller took any acting work he could find in his early twenties---stage, small or big screen, comedy or drama---in an effort to jump-start his career. A brief writing-performing stint on Saturday Night Live
in 1989 helped him land his own eponymous sketch-comedy series on MTV later that year. While the show quickly fizzled, it laid the groundwork for his 1992 Fox series of the same name costarring Andy Dick and Janeane Garofalo. Although The Ben Stiller Show
---which he wrote, produced, directed and starred in---only lasted one season, his skewed sensibility and pop-culture-infused humor turned him into a Gen-X darling. In 1994, he made his feature directing debut with Reality Bites
, a slacker comedy in which he also costarred. From then on Stiller was omnipresent, tackling supporting and leading movie roles, TV guest spots, even appearing as himself in music videos. He tended to alternate between three comic characterizations---nebbishy underdog (Meet the Parents
, There's Something About Mary
, Night at the Museum
), testosterone-heavy villain (Dodgeball
, Heavy Weights
), and likeable but dim-witted celebrity (Zoolander
, Tropic Thunder
)---with a few notable exceptions (an overprotective widowed father in The Royal Tenenbaums
, a junkie in Permanent Midnight
) that proved, if given the chance, he could be versatile. Still, audiences seemed to prefer his stereotypical shtick. Off screen, he dated a bevy of beauties (Jeanne Tripplehorn, Amanda Peet, Claire Forlani) before marrying actress Christine Taylor.Ben Stiller Fast Facts:
- Began shooting Super-8 movies when he was 10.
- Earliest forays into show business included working as an intern in 1983 on Alan Thicke's Thicke of the Night and producing a short parody of the 1986 film The Color of Money. That got him noticed by Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels, who offered him a writing gig in 1989.
- Favorite actors include Tom Cruise (with whom he has been close friends since 1996) and Diane Keaton.
- Penned an article about Keaton for Premiere magazine in 1997.
- Coauthored a mock self-help book along with Janeane Garofalo in 1999 titled Feel This Book: An Essential Guide to Self-Empowerment, Spiritual Supremacy and Sexual Satisfaction.
- Ben Stiller Relationships:
- Anne Meara - Mother
- Ella Olivia Stiller - Daughter
- Amy Stiller - Sister
- Christine Taylor - Wife
- Jeanne Tripplehorn - Ex-fiancée
- Quinlin Dempsey Stiller - Son
- Jerry Stiller - Father
- Ben Stiller Awards:
- 1993 Emmy: Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing in a Variety or Music Program - Winner
- 2006 Emmy: Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series - Nominee
- 2013 Emmy: Outstanding Special Class - Short-Format Live-Action Entertainment Programs - Nominee
- Attended University of California, Los Angeles, CA