Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman Revealed
The Inside Story Of Sideshow Collectibles
Guardians Of The Galaxy Review
Nick Frost:
My Movie Life

The World's End star's pick of the flicks
Subscribe: 6 Issues For £15!
Subscribe today and save 37% off the cover price!
Movie News

LATEST HEADLINES
YESTERDAY
New Maze Runner Trailer Arrives
Dylan O'Brien & Will Poulter are a-mazed
Warner Bros. Eyes The Dragonriders Of Pern Books
Anne McCaffrey's fantasy stories could be a new franchise
See The Deadpool Test Footage Snippet
As released officially by Tim Miller & Blur Studios
Paul Dano Considers War & Peace
Downton's Lily James also up for the new miniseries
New Trailer For Al Pacino's Salomé
With Jessica Chastain in the really Wilde show
Exclusive: Peter Capaldi On Doctor Who
Plus Empire debuts new Time Lord photoshoot
Headhunters' Morten Tyldum On For Chain Of Events
'World War Z meets The Da Vinci Code'
Paul Greengrass Introduces Agent Storm
Al-Qaeda thriller for Captain Phillips team
More Movie News

RELATED NEWS
28 July 2014
Initial Images From Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb
London crawling with exhibits come to life
More Movie News

RELATED FUTURE FILMS
Night At The Museum 3
31 December 2014
More Future Films

RELATED REVIEWS
How To Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)
Empire Star Rating
The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty (2013)
Empire Star Rating
The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty (2013)
Empire Star Rating
Girl Most Likely (2013)
Empire Star Rating
Despicable Me 2 (2013)
Empire Star Rating
More new cinemas releases
DVD & Blu-ray releases

Ben Stiller On The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty
Has he delivered this year's Life Of Pi?

29 July 2013  |  Written by Mark Dinning  |  Source: Exclusive

submit to reddit

The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty

When Ben Stiller ran into Russell Crowe on the Tarmac at Reykjavik airport, the Gladiator star had five words for him: “You gotta dominate the weather.”

Stiller was the latest in a succession of big names to have descended on Iceland — Tom Cruise had recently been in town with Oblivion and Crowe was just leaving, with Darren Aronofsky’s Noah in the can. In fact, those previous projects had seen Stiller’s initial shooting slot postponed by a few months, the country’s limited crews already stretched to breaking point by this A-list invasion.

But if the schedule was tight and the weather borderline suicidal, Stiller remained unfazed. “People talk about location issues, but I’ve shot movies in New York,” laughs the 47-year-old. “You’ll be trying to do a quiet, intimate scene on Sixth Avenue and all you’ll get is people driving by, shouting, ‘Hey, Focker!’”

That may sound funny, but perception is a serious business. Try, for instance, making an important point on Twitter when you’re the only star in Hollywood with three billion-dollar franchises (the Night At The Museums, Madagascars and Fockers of above) and you will find yourself getting short shrift. “I’ll try to alert people to some genuine injustice in the world that I think they should be aware of,” says Stiller with a wry shrug, “and they’ll be like, ‘Yeah, yeah… just be funny!’”

The comedy label is one that Ben Stiller never particularly set out to court. But, given his movies in the genre have grossed $5 billion, it’s not one the studios are particularly keen he sheds, either. Ever since There’s Something About Mary sent him stratospheric, though, he has had a plan in motion, a dream of making movies of every size and every genre, and not necessarily any more where he jizzes in someone’s hair. “I’ve always wanted to direct different kinds of movies,” he says. “I just haven’t really done it.”

With The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, it is fair to say that Stiller has achieved his dream and then some. Mitty is his adaptation of the short story by James Thurber, famously turned into the 1947 musical starring Danny Kaye. For the uninitiated, our hero is a downtrodden magazine worker (no comment), who escapes the pain of his daily grind (no comment) with vivid fantasies (hello, Kelly Brook!) but not of that kind (with sincere apologies to Kelly Brook).

In Stiller’s incarnation, these fantasies posit him as everything from a Bourne-like action hero to a sexy mountaineer to a Benjamin Button-style Mini-Me. It is, in essence, around ten movies in one. “What I learned as I was editing the movie is that people love the fantasy sequences but they also get invested in the real-life aspects of the movie too. They want to enjoy the fantasies, and for them to be fun and funny, but there’s also this natural desire for the story to go forward. A little goes a long way.”

Stiller was actually asked to star in a new adaptation of Mitty back in 2005. He was right to wait. His new iteration makes smart changes to the source. Where Kaye’s saw Mitty fantasising about escaping a henpecking wife, this script, by Steve Conrad, sees him do so in pursuit of the object of his affection, played by Kristen Wiig. “This version is more different than similar to the original,” says Stiller. “That’s what appealed. The 2005 version was just an updated version that wasn’t a musical. All it was ever going to be was ‘not as good as the original’. We were aiming for something indefinable, a movie that left you with a feeling at the end. I’ve never made a movie like that, and it’s a really hard target to hit. It’s hard to put into words.”

Hard to put into words? Here are two for you right now: fucking magical.

Last month we were lucky enough to see 13 minutes at a cinema exhibitors’ presentation in Barcelona. The footage was an extended sequence involving a fantasy Wiig singing a stunning a cappella version of David Bowie’s Major Tom, inspiring Stiller’s Mitty to jump in a helicopter and then back out of it and into the ocean, for a close encounter with a great white shark. The shark was stunningly realised, but it was the marriage of movie and music that really moved.

Fox chief Jim Gianopulos has drawn parallels between Stiller’s movie and Life Of Pi. Stiller claims he pitched it to Gianopulos more as a “sort of” Forrest Gump. From what we saw, we’d also put forward a touch of The Apartment (for its bittersweet tone as much as for having Shirley MacLaine in it) and It’s A Wonderful Life. It really does look that good.

For all his success as a director — Zoolander and Tropic Thunder especially — Stiller has battled a reputation for drifting over budget (the latter’s “You’re three weeks behind and you’ve been shooting for five days” is an in-joke at his own expense) and an industry that likes to keep people in their boxes. But, on this evidence, this could be the movie that will put all of that behind him for good. His fantasy may be close to becoming a reality.

“It’s not like I’m trying to prove anything, or force something down people’s throats,” he says. “I’m just trying to do different things, to make the kind of movie I’m interested in making. The kind of movie I’d like to go and see.”

The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty is out on December 26.


Have Your Say
To comment on this, and all articles, register for free or login now.

Comic-Con 2013: Guardians Of The Galaxy And Captain America Interviews
'So you're beating up his fist with your face?'
Disney Re-Scales Pete's Dragon
UPDATE: David Lowery in talks to direct his script

Your Comments

RE: Dirty Paws
The trailer itself is a piece of art. I hope the movie follows through! More

Posted by Jose Chungs Doomsday at 15:00 on 04 August 2013 | Report This Post

Dirty Paws
Can't stop watching the trailer, it's addictive. Now i've never been a fan of Stiller, but I think this is his moment, and Empire, you have taken the words out of my mouth; it simply looks, "fucking magical" More

Posted by harrydavidge at 23:39 on 03 August 2013 | Report This Post

SPECIAL FEATURE
The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time EMPIRE READERS' POLL: THE 301 GREATEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME
You turned out in your hundreds and thousands, and here are the results... Browse the full list


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Empire's The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies Covers Are Here
Bard The Bowman or Smaug The Magnificent?

A Pocket Guide To Game Of Thrones’ New Cast Members
Know your Doran Martell from your Nym Sand

Directors Special: Peter Hyams Goes Film-By-Film
The veteran director on Timecop, Outland, 2010, Enemies Closer and more

Explore The Massive Avengers: Age Of Ultron Comic-Con Banner
Use our interactive gadget to zoom in on Hulk, Iron Man, The Vision and co. in action

The 10 Biggest Stories Of Comic-Con 2014
The shocks to emerge from this year's geek-fest. Avengers! Max! Mann!

Models Inc.: The Inside Story Of Sideshow Collectibles
How the likes of Batman, Superman and Luke Skywalker become collectible figures

The Empire Podcast #121: Brett Ratner Talks Hercules On This Week's Show
Plus The Purge: Anarchy producer Jason Blum pops in to talk horror

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time Subscribers' Cover

Subscribe today and get the cover and 3 issues for only £10!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 6 issues of Empire for just £15!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)