di Jonathan Cameron
Speaker: Mark Worden (Standard Britsh accent)
Ben Stiller was exposed to comedy at an early age. He and his sister Amy Stiller are the children of Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, who were a famous duo in the 1960s and ‘70s. In his latest film, Tower Heist, Ben Stiller also gets to form a comedy duo. He teams up with the great Eddie Murphy:
He’s pretty iconic, Eddie! And, you know, for anybody... for my generation growing up, you know, he defines a lot of what comedy is in the, you know, in the last 25 years, so it’s pretty cool to work with him. And he’s really funny, he’s really smart, he’s very... you know, he’s... a great improviser, and, I don’t know, I mean, he’s Eddie Murphy! It’s exciting to work with him: every day that I work with him, I’m excited to be there, and I kind of feel like... sometimes I feel like an audience because I get to watch him do his thing, I’m like, “Wow! That’s... that’s good, you know, that’s going to be in the movie!” And I think, for the relationship in the film, you know, these two guys, he’s just a guy that can get away with, I think, playing a guy who is on the edge, and who is... you know, you’re not quite sure which way he’s going to go, but again, you like... he really... he’s such a likeable personality, and he’s a really great... just in terms of comedy, he’s a great comedy audience, he loves comedy. So just hanging out with him on the set is great. We’re pretty close in age, so we have a lot of the same reference points, in terms of TV shows we watched as kids, and movies and stuff like that. It’s just fun to talk and hang out with him.
In the film Ben Stiller plays Josh, the doorman in a luxury New York apartment building. He and his colleagues have lost all their money to the building’s richest resident, Arthur Shaw, who is played by Alan Alda. Shaw is similar to Bernie Madoff, in that he operates a Ponzi investment scheme. He is now under house arrest in his penthouse apartment. Josh and his colleagues believe that their cash is also in the apartment and so they decide to organise a “heist.” But they lack criminal experience and so they employ the services of Eddie Murphy’s character, Slide:
Josh grew up in Astoria and... you see in the beginning of the movie that he’s, you know, he walks by this guy Slide almost every day, who’s up to some nefarious, illegal activities, and we’re not quite sure what; it looks like he has stolen goods and he sort of makes fun of Josh as he walks to work every day. And we don’t realise what their history is and then, when it comes time to do this heist, and they need somebody who’s a ringer, somebody who’s an actual criminal, Josh has this idea to go to Slide who, we then learn, they grew up together on the block and actually were in day care together as kids, and Slide doesn’t really remember it, or chooses not to remember, so they sort of connect on that. And all of a sudden it’s these guys who grew up in the neighbourhood together, went different ways, but have this connection from the past. So it’s a sort of a fun relationship, in that... they sort of squabble like kids a lot of the time.
And, as Ben Stiller says, “heist” movies are always a challenge:
The movie sort of has to live and die on the relationships of the people in it because, you know, there have been so many heist movies, it’s really like, “What are you going to see that’s different and interesting?” And I think it’s just getting invested in the characters and this unlikely group, and really then being able to want to go on that ride with them, and then to see what happens, and it goes wrong, and there’s always something that goes wrong in a heist movie. And so it’s really fun in this one because I think it goes in a direction that people don’t necessarily expect it to go.