Although he is one Hollywood’s biggest stars, some of Ben Stiller’s greatest achievements are related to his work as a director, since he debuted in 1994 with Reality Bites. He was never personally nominated for the Golden Globes, but his film Tropic Thunder put Robert Downey Jr. and Tom Cruise in the list of candidates to win the Globe in 2009. Even if as an actor his name is forever tied to films like Zoolander, Night at the Museum, Meet the Parents and Madagascar, Flirting with Disaster and There's Something About Mary at 51 the son of popular TV stars Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara has always shown that he has range as a dramatic actor as well.
Stiller will soon be seen as the successful son of Dustin Hoffman in Noah Baumbach's The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) - which went to Cannes and will be released by Netflix in October - and the insecure father who takes his teenage son (Austin Abrams) to Boston to visit colleges in Brad's Status, written and directed by Mike White, and currently at TIFF.
"It’s not that often you get a piece of material that you really relate to,” Stiller told HFPA journalists in Toronto. “At this point as an actor, it’s the kind of thing I’m interested in doing. To find a great script and also a great director is sometimes hard. I knew Mike was directing this, that it was a very personal thing for him because he writes for other people a lot but I knew that he wanted to direct this piece. We’d known each other for maybe 20 years but never really worked together."
Most of Stiller’s scenes in Brad's Status are with Abrams, so in order to create a believable father-son relationship, he spent a lot of time with the talented 21-year-old before filming began: "He’s very serious about what he’s doing and he came at it wanting to give a very honest performance. We bonded, we connected, we hung out as much as we could, we took a couple of drives together. Because you only have a few weeks to get ready and you’re playing father and son you want to have some sort of history, something real to draw on.”