Stretching his dramatic range and then some for Brett Ratner’s Tower Heist, Ben Stiller, you might say, gives an arresting performance in the movie. As he goes toe to toe with a Wall Street crook, and the FBI. During this interview for Tower Heist, Stiller weighs in on assorted pressing matters. Including, exactly what he means by not looking to be funnier, his favorite burglary scenes, and doing the riveted spectator thing to seductive moves made on a somewhat clueless Eddie Murphy in the film.
Now about all the comedic male bonding going on in Tower Heist…
BEN STILLER: I honestly don’t look at it that way. What I was excited about with this film, was that it was a movie first, and a comedy second. It was a good story. And I like that there was a realistic basis for the movie, even though it’s a ‘movie movie’ too.
And the comedy comes out of the characters. So for me, I wasn’t looking to see how funny I could be. I just wanted to be that guy in the movie. And of course when you have Eddie Murphy in the movie, it…takes a lot of pressure off!
So I was really happy that he was in the film. Because I’m never looking to be sort of funnier. Because that’s not, that just doesn’t work. Does that make sense? Stiller, not looking to be funnier! Maybe he should!
How about that flirty scene when Gabby hits on Eddie?
BS: Just watching!
What do you think of Occupy Wall Street, and how it connects to this movie?
BS: You know, I think there’s a lot of frustration out there, that’s valid. And what the Occupy Wall Street movement is an expression of.
You know, there’s a lot of frustration just where we’re at, in terms of this economic situation. So I understand where it’s coming from. So that’s what I’d say to that.
How was it as a New Yorker, making a New York movie?
BS: I don’t know. I mean, I lived in LA for twenty years. But I just moved back to New York. And I think what you notice in LA, is you don’t have to deal with the elements. Jerry Seinfeld said to me recently, he said, I like living in New York because it’s harder.
He likes that, you know, He likes that you have to deal with the winter. And you have to deal with…You know, life is just a little bit tougher. It’s more in your face. And I think that sort of shapes who New Yorkers are.
I mean, there’s a lot of people in one place. And I think that’s a good thing too. People have to interact with each other on a daily basis. And obviously New Yorkers just kind of do their thing. Yeah…
One of the hardest things we had to do when we were shooting around Columbus Circle, the subway station was letting out. And they would try to hold the people back from coming out of the subway. At rush hour! Try doing that! It’s not easy. People want to get where they’re going.
What’s your favorite scene in Tower Heist?
BS: There are a couple of scenes I like. I like the scenes where we’re all together. Like I love the bobby pin scenes. Are those your bobby pins, your bobby pins? Just because when we were shooting it, that was so funny right off the bat.
And everybody would just start going, where’s your bobby pin, where’s your bobby pin. It was one of those scenes where you just go, this is funny. You know, the group trying to be a team of criminals, and not really being great at it.
So I like that one. And I like the one outside of the safe place too, where we’re talking about how to rip off the safe. Because that to me, felt like the vibe of those movies like The Hot Rock from the seventies.
You know, it’s a comedy, but it had this tone to it. Where George Segal and Robert Redford, they pulling off this heist. And it’s definitely a comedy, but it was based in this New York reality. And those scenes remind me of that.