Stiller responded to recent news put forth by The New York Times detailing that the controversial statue of Roosevelt — one currently taking up residence outside the American Museum of Natural History — will be torn down. Stiller took to the comments section of a New York Times tweet to come out in support of his deceased Night at the Museum co-star.
“How about replacing it with a statue of Robin Williams. He deserves one.”
The statue of Roosevelt currently in place in front of the museum is an enormous bronze memorial which depicts the former president on horseback. Roosevelt is flanked on either side by a Black individual and an Indigenous individual, respectively, and both figures are shirtless and on foot.
As unlikely as it sounds, Stiller’s proposal attempts to serve tribute to his former co-star.
Williams and Stiller shared screen time in all three of the Night at the Museum movies, the last of which premiered after Williams’ suicide in 2014. Stiller starred as a night security guard at the American Museum of Natural History in the fantasy/comedy series. Stiller’s character befriends a waxy version of former president ‘Teddy’ Roosevelt, portrayed by none other than the beloved Williams.
A comedic representation of Roosevelt at the film’s museum may have won movie viewer’s hearts, but the reality of the 40-foot statue towering in front of the Central Park West entrance incites a very different reaction for critics. Opponents of the statue see it as inappropriately glorifying a legacy of racial hierarchy and colonial expansion.
Stiller’s comment provoked mixed reactions from Twitter users. Many responded with humor, but a number of people blasted the actor for chiming in on the current controversy.
“Thank you Mr Stiller. I am so glad you are adding your voice to the national conversation. I wish more actors and Hollywood types would give us their elitist opinions,” admonished one user.
According to a 2019 report from The New York Times, the statue, which was installed on city property in 1940, has been defaced a number of times. In 1971, and as recently as 2017, it was splashed with red liquid symbolizing blood. In 2017 it was one of four memorials in New York City up for reconsideration by the city commission, but the vote was split — and the city decided to leave it up.
However, in the wake of nation-wide protests over racial equality initiated by the death of George Floyd earlier this year, the City of New York elected to remove it this week.