Ben Stiller facts you probably didn’t know

Taryn Davies
Published: February 10, 2016

As Zoolander 2 gets ready to hit screens this week we thought we’d share some facts about the star, writer, producer and director Ben Stiller.

The actor has starred in some of our favourite comedies over the years, but how much do you know about the 50 year old?

Family and personal life

Benjamin Edward Meara Stiller was born on November 30, 1965 in New York City.

His father, comedian and actor Jerry Stiller (born 1927), is from a Jewish family that emigrated from Poland and Galicia in Eastern Europe. His mother, actress Anne Meara (1929-2015), who was from an Irish Catholic background, converted to Reform Judaism after marrying his father.

Did you know that these two famous actors are the parents of Ben Stiller?

Anne Meara and Jerry Stiller
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Ben has one older sister, Amy, who is also an actor.

He considered his childhood unusual, stating "In some ways, it was a show-business upbringing—a lot of traveling, a lot of late nights—not what you'd call traditional."

Stiller dated several actresses during his early television and film career, including Jeanne Tripplehorn, Calista Flockhart, and Amanda Peet.

In May 2000, he married Christine Taylor in Hawaii, they met whilst filming a television pilot that never aired.

Together they have one daughter, Ella Olivia who was born in 2002 and one son, Quinlin Dempsey born in 2005.

Ben Stiller facts you probably didn't know

Ben Stiller with kids in 2013
Jaguar PS /


Stiller attended The Cathedral School of St. John the Divine and graduated from the Calhoun School in New York in 1983.

Stiller then enrolled as a film student at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Early career

Stiller displayed an early interest in filmmaking and made Super 8 movies with his sister and friends. At nine years old, he made his acting debut as a guest on his mother’s short-lived television series, Kate McShane.

In the late 1970s, he performed with the New York City troupe NYC’s First All Children’s Theater, playing several roles, including the title role in Clever Jack and the Magic Beanstalk.

Ben Stiller facts you probably didn't know

Ben Stiller and wife Christine in 2000
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He started performing on the cabaret circuit as opening act to the cabaret siren Jadin Wong.

In 1993 he won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing in a Variety or Music program for The Ben Stiller Show despite the fact it was cancelled after 12 episodes.

Ben loves the stage, he returned to Broadway in 2011 in the revival of ‘The House of Blue Leaves’. He made his Broadway debut in the 1986 production of the same name.

Movie facts

Derek Zoolander’s ‘Blue Steel’ originated from Christine ribbing her husband Ben about the way he combs his hair in the mirror in real life.

In Zoolander, the role of Hansel was written specifically with Owen Wilson in mind. Ben has since said that he doesn’t think the movie would have been made without Wilson on board.

Ben Stiller facts you probably didn't know

Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson attend the Berlin fan screening of the Zoolander 2 (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures)

As well as Stiller’s real life appearing in Zoolander, it also has a bunch of other familial cameo roles: his dad plays Maury Ballstein, his mum plays a protestor and his sister is a member of Hansel’s posse.

Ben has openly acknowledged that Tropic Thunder was a difficult film to make. After shooting in Kauai for 13 weeks, Stiller handed out T-shirts to the cast and crew that read “I SURVIVED BEN STILLER’S COMEDY DEATH CAMP.” A couple of people required hospitalization after getting centipede bites, and there was a constant fear of the Leptospirosis virus.

Acting career

He was nominated for Worst Actor category for his role in five out of the six films he starred in 2004 at the year’s Razzie Awards.

Ben played the father of his real-life father in an episode of The King of Queens entitled ‘Shrink Wrap’, the episode aired in 2002.

He quit joining the Broadway run of ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ in 2002 to spend more time with daughter who was born the same year.

Ben Stiller facts you probably didn't know

Ben Stiller attends the Sydney Fan Screening Event of Zoolander 2 (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures)

Random facts

Ben is a self-confessed ‘Trekkie’, big fan of Star Trek, and even named his production company Red Hour Films after the name of an alien riot which featured in the episode, The Return of the Archons.

Ben is known as a member of the Frat Pack, with Vince Vaughn, Will Ferell, Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson, Steve Carrell and Jack Black.

Ben Stiller facts you probably didn't know

(L-R) Will Ferrell, Owen Wilson, Ben Stiller and Justin Theroux attend the Photocall for the Fan Screening of Zoolander (Photo by Ernesto Ruscio/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures)

Ben considers Diane Keaton as his favourite actress of all time, even writing an article about her for Premiere magazine in 1997.

Along with Janeane Garofalo he wrote a mock self-help book 'Feel this book: An Essential Guide to Self Empowerment, Spiritual Supremacy and sexual satisfaction'.

Ben suffers from bipolar disorder. The comedian may not be as vocal about being bipolar as some celebrities, but he doesn’t hide it either. His parents have suffered from depression most of their lives and as he phrases it, I’ve got a rich history of bipolar manic depression in my family.

Ben Stiller went to hypnotherapy for his addiction to peanut M&Ms.