Zoolander 2 | Ben Stiller ‘freaked out’ by sequel flop

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Ben Stiller has opened up about the film which turned him onto TV: the controversial comedy Zoolander 2. More below…

With a career packed with some of the most beloved comedies of the 2000s (including the original Zoolander in 2001), it’s safe to say that Zoolander 2 doesn’t find itself gracing many Ben Stiller “best of” lists.

As it turns out, the critical and commercial flop of the modelling industry follow-up came as a bit of a shock for Stiller, as the actor-director reportedly told David Duchovny on an upcoming podcast (per People).

“I thought everybody wanted this,” Stiller said. “And then it’s like, ‘Wow, I must have really fucked this up. Everybody didn’t go to it. And it’s gotten these horrible reviews.'”

Critics and audiences alike rejected the 2016 sequel, which debuted to pretty sniffy reviews and grossed just $56.7m off a $50-55m budget.

“It really freaked me out because I was like, ‘I didn’t know it was that bad?'” Stiller continued. “What scared me the most on that one was [that] l’m losing what I think is funny, questioning [myself] … It was definitely blindsiding to me. And it definitely affected me for a long time.”

Zoolander 2 definitely served up its share of controversy at the time, too. The casting of Benedict Cumberbatch as transgender model All resulted in boycotts from LGBTQ+ activists over the “cartoonish mockery of androgyne/trans/non-binary individuals”.

As Stiller tells it though, it seems like the film served as a bit of an inflection point for his career.

“The wonderful thing that came out of that for me was just having space where, if that had been a hit, and they said ‘Make Zoolander 3 right now,’ or offered some other movie, I would have just probably jumped in and done that”, he said.

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“But I had this space to kind of sit with myself and have to deal with it and other projects that I had been working on – not comedies, some of them – I have the time to actually just work on and develop. And so, over the course of like the next like, nine or 10 months, I was able to develop these limited series.”

“These limited series” include 2018’s crime drama Escape At Dannemora, which earned Stiller a Directors’ Guild Award, and Apple TV+’s Severance – one of the most critically acclaimed streaming shows of recent years, which has just wrapped production on its second season.

Sounds like the failure of Zoolander 2 might have been (whisper it) a bit of a blessing in disguise. Still, we hope the experience didn’t scar Stiller too much; he hasn’t directed a feature film since, and we’re still waiting on Walter Mitty 2

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