Interview: Ben Stiller at the ‘Zoolander 2’ World Premiere

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The warm summer afternoon lit up when Ben Stiller, one of the most revered Hollywood players, arrived at the purple carpet world premiere of his comedy and sequel to one of his most beloved characters, “Derek” Zoolander. It’s been 15 years since Zoolander was a moderate hit in cinemas, only to gain instant popularity on home video where sales and rentals soared.

Directed, starring and co-written by Stiller, Zoolander 2 brings back many of the original cast including Owen Wilson as once runway rival Hansel and Billy Zane being hilarious as Billy Zane. Like part one, there are rapid multiple cameos in hilarious situations. Last year, Valentino allowed Ben and Owen to surprise everyone unannounced in character during an actual runway show, making global news.

Sydney’s State Theatre was abuzz with keen fans including Heidi Klum, who cheered when introducing the film, as Ben mentioned, it was literally still being edited only a day earlier. The most ridiculously good-looking model is back to the big screen with frenetic hilarity.  

Great to see you again, Ben. I am proudly wearing my Blue Steel tie in honor of Derek’s signature look. Did it take you and the writers a long time to come up with those names, also including Magnum? Will we see a new look in the film?

Ben Stiller: I have to say those are from original collaborator Drake Sather; it was his idea then I felt out what the actual look was going to be and how exactly Derek would channel it.

There is definitely a new look in this film but will not say what it is as it is a big plot point.

Does Derek still possess curious intelligence in Part 2 or is he much smarter?

Not all all. I mean it’s one of the great things, Derek’s intelligence levels just stay the same. If anything, he could be getting worse. His dynamic remains the same; he and Hansel are kind of obsessed with the wrong things. It was actually fun to get back together and do it again, falling right into place. When leaving these characters I wondered how we would go, but it felt fun from the very beginning.

FullSizeRenderFifteen years since the original, were you under pressure to bring Zoolander back?

Over the years, there were times we talked about it, but took this long to all reunite, and it probably took this amount of time for people to fully discover the movie, to want a sequel. When the first one came out nobody thought of a sequel including the film studios; now fans are so into it. Derek was the biggest holdout, he wanted contracts, he wanted to be paid lots of money, he felt that the movie shouldn’t be called Zoolander again because he thought they were taking advantage of his name. Ugly negotiations went on and on. Finally, he just realized it was his only gig really. If we didn’t do this, he would never be in anything else, ever.

Like the original, an incredible amount of celebrity cameos pop up, did you just tick off a list of hopefuls? Tell me about Justin Bieber on set; was there anyone you did not get to appear?

Many of them reached out, some were fans of the first film, others heard of a second installment and wanted back in. Justin was really into it; he is a talent, really focused and has a good sense of humor about himself. I went after a few people we didn’t get; I thought Julian Assange as a satellite would be fun. (laughs) It didn’t happen.

Your appearances at the Oscars are notorious, will we see Derek Zoolander take the stage at this year’s ceremony?

(Laughs) Well, no, ummm, that is not yet on his agenda, but it could be quite the spotlight and an interesting thought.

This is the first sequel to any of the features you have directed. Might we see a return to Reality Bites or Tropic Thunder 2, maybe Revenge of The Cable Guy?

Ha, Shane, very good. No, none of those are on the horizon, however a follow up to Tropic Thunder is often mentioned, we’ll see.

Zoolander 2 opens in theaters February 12.

Born in Sydney Australia. Other than movies, Shane surfs, rides a mountain bike and follows the West-Tigers football team in Rugby League. He once won $500 cash for doing air guitar on live TV to the Van Halen classic Jump! His personal best films vary but while writing this, he loves ‘Seven’, The Breakfast Club’, ‘Escape from New York’ and ‘Clue’.