Ben Stiller’s latest film Zoolander No. 2 opens this weekend, and in a new interview, Stiller talks about his late mother, actress and comedian Anne Meara, and the aftermath of her death. The 85-year-old Meara passed away on May 24, 2015, at her New York City home.
Stiller speaks fondly about Meara in an interview with Dotson Rader for Parade. Stiller admits that he still grieves over his mother’s death, and that he is still getting used to the fact that she is gone.
“You know, you’re going through your life, everything is great and then like, Pow! She’s not here. It’s hard for me.”
The 50-year-old actor praises Meara, and how it was her humorous ways that helped Stiller develop his own comedic style. Stiller mentioned that Meara also was part of the inspiration for many of his movie characters, including Derek Zoolander, who Stiller reprises in the Zoolander sequel 15 years after the original film’s release.
Meara was one-half of the popular comedy team Stiller and Meara, with her husband, comedic actor Jerry Stiller. The couple first met in 1953 and married a year later, but it wasn’t until 1961 that they rose to fame with their comedy act.
Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara ended their comedy act in 1970, but in 2010, they starred in a Yahoo! web series called Stiller and Meara, under their son Ben’s production company. The couple remained married for 61 years until Meara’s death. The couple also have a daughter, Amy, and several grandchildren.
Ben Stiller briefly mentions his mother’s last days, and how she never lost her sense of humor, and stayed happy. The Stiller family never publicly said what was the exact reason for Meara’s death; they only released a statement to the press that she passed on, and Jerry Stiller will always remain Meara’s “husband and partner in life.”
Stiller also talks about his wife, actress Christine Taylor, in the interview, and how she took a step back from acting to spend more time raising their two children. Taylor does reprise her role as Matilda Jeffries in Zoolander No. 2. The satirical comedy sequel is the fourth film that Stiller and Taylor act in together. They co-starred in the first Zoolander film, Tropic Thunder, and Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. They also made appearances in two TV series: Curb Your Enthusiasm and Arrested Development.
While the 2001 film, Zoolander, generally received positive reviews from critics, people are feeling less enthusiastic about the sequel. There was initially a good buzz about the sequel when Ben Stiller and Zoolander co-star Owen Wilson crashed Milan’s Fashion Week in March, 2015. The actors surprised the fashion crowd as they walked the runway as their Zoolander characters, Derek Zoolander and Hansel McDonald, at the Maison Valentino show to garner publicity for the new film.
When Paramount released the official trailer for Zoolander No. 2 last November, the film faced a backlash from the transgender community over the androgynous model, All, who’s portrayed by Sherlock actor Benedict Cumberbatch. Advocates felt that the character was more of a mockery towards the LGBTQ community, and less than a satirical scene that pokes fun of the modeling industry.
While Zoolander No. 2 may not win many people’s hearts, Ben Stiller will still look to his late mother for comedy inspiration.
“I feel a connection as deeply to my mom now as I did when she was here,” he said. “I really felt with her that she wasn’t just going away, because she believed, as I do, that after we die there is something more.”
Stiller’s Parade interview is available on their website. Zoolander No. 2 opened on February 12 in the United States. The sequel features Penelope Cruz, Will Ferrell, and Kristen Wiig, along with many celebrities playing themselves in cameos, such as Macaulay Culkin, Katy Perry, Justin Beiber, and Demi Lovato.
[Photo by Elisabetta Villa/Getty Images]