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‘Zoolander’ filming is family event

By Daily Bruin Staff

Sept. 27, 2001 9:00 p.m.

  Paramount Pictures Ben Stiller stars
with his father Jerry Stiller in the movie
"Zoolander." Ben’s wife, Christine Taylor, also has a role.

By Sophia Whang
Daily Bruin Senior Staff

It’s a family affair for Ben Stiller and his loved ones in
his new comedy, “Zoolander.”

The film, directed, written and produced by Stiller, features
his real life wife Christine Taylor, as his love interest, his
father Jerry Stiller, as his fashion agent, and his mother and
sister as extras.

Along with his family, several of his friends and acquaintances
make cameo appearances.

“It’s funny because it really is right down to our
own dog running across the screen,” Taylor said. “Even
some non-acting friends say some lines or walk across the screen,
so it was fun for us to do that.”

Opening Sept. 28, “Zoolander” originates from a 1993
episode of “The Ben Stiller Show,” with the protagonist
being a take-off of a type of Beverly Hills 90210 stud-like
character. Ben Stiller clearly drops his IQ by at least 50 points
to play the feeble-minded model Derek Zoolander.

Derek is a modeling sensation around the world, known for his
trademark looks, especially his “blue steel look,” a
facial expression with furrowed eyebrows and puckered lips.

He has the beauty to grace the cover of GQ and pose for Gucci,
but can’t spell a three-lettered word correctly.
Derek’s stupidity makes him a perfect choice for designer and
fashion villain Mugatu (Will Ferrell), who brainwashes Derek into
doing his dirty work for him.

After losing what would be his fourth consecutive Male Model of
the Year Award, the usually egotistical Derek becomes disheartened.
Mugatu takes advantage of Derek’s vulnerable state by
designing an evil plot disguised as a new modeling opportunity.
Meanwhile, Zoolander searches for more meaning in life.

“I’m pretty sure there’s more to life than
just being really, really good looking, and I plan on finding out
what that is,” Derek Zoolander says in the film.

With the help of his actual friends and family as characters,
the male supermodel gets the support he needs in order to find
purpose to his existence.

“(Working with my wife) was great. I love my wife,”
said Stiller in an interview. “It was really helpful for me
because I trust her sense of humor and she’s really smart.
When you’re acting and directing, you miss having a director,
so I would go to her a lot of times for feedback.”

Along with being able to rely on his wife professionally,
Stiller also had the opportunity to spend more time with Taylor
personally as they were still celebrating their recent
marriage.

“Since we’re still in that honeymoon stage it was
nice for us to be together and for me to be able to share the
experience with him,” Christine Taylor said. “But
before I even knew Ben, I was so familiar with his work, such a big
fan, and loved his sense of humor and his sense of
comedy.”

Taylor said that although she wasn’t nervous to be
directed by her husband, she was still eager to please him.

“Since we knew each other so well … we had a really good
dynamic. He could just give me a little look, and I would know what
he would mean,” she said.

The senior Stiller as Maury, an obnoxious and flashy agent,
extends his paternalistic role in the movie, trying to help guide
Derek’s modeling career. Ben Stiller praised his father for
his humor, preparedness and his love for acting.

“You don’t direct your father,” Stiller said.
“So I tried to just be supportive of what he does and
encourage him to take as many chances as possible.”

In addition to working closely with family, Stiller was able to
direct friends, like actor Owen Wilson, who plays Hansel,
Derek’s competition both on and off the runway, and his rival
for the Male Model of the Year Award.

“We’ve worked together a number of times and we love
working together,” Stiller said about Wilson. “The part
was written for him, and I don’t think I could have made the
movie if he didn’t do it.”

Those who made more brief appearances include David Bowie,
Fabio, Tommy Hilfiger, Gwen Stefani and Tyson Beckford. Many guest
appearances were made when Stiller shot an awards scene at the
actual 2000 VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards during its commercial
breaks.

“Everybody worked cheap and thankfully so,” Stiller
said. “Everybody did me a lot of favors.”

According to Taylor, Stiller may not owe as many return favors
as he thinks.

“I wish I could say that being family helped in any way
with salary negotiations,” Taylor said with a smile.

“But the greatest thing about the movie is that
we’ll all be able to have this sort of set piece that the
whole family had some part in.”

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