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“It hurt”: Ben Stiller talks the negative and positive effects of ‘Zoolander 2’ tanking


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In the forthcoming May 7 episode of David Duchovny’s Fail Better podcast, Ben Stiller unpacked what Zoolander 2 bombing did for him — for better or worse.

The 2016 movie tanked at the box office and was critically drubbed, which took a toll on him, Stiller says in the interview.

“It hurt,” Stiller said, according to The Wrap.

“I thought everybody wanted this, and then it’s like, ‘Wow, I must have really f***** this up. Everybody didn’t go to it. And it’s gotten these horrible reviews.”

Stiller adds, “It really freaked me out because I was like, ‘I didn’t know [it] was that bad?'”

The director of the 2008 comedy Tropic Thunder recalls, “What scared me the most on that one was l’m losing what I think what’s funny, the questioning yourself,” he added. “It was definitely blindsiding to me. And it definitely affected me for a long time.”

That said, there was a silver lining. “The wonderful thing that came out of that for me was … if that had been a hit, and they said ‘Make Zoolander 3 right now’ … I would have just probably jumped in and done that.”

Stiller added, “Even if somebody said, ‘Well, why don’t you go do another comedy or do this?’ I probably could have figured out something to do. But I just didn’t want to.”

What came from that break was developing some limited series, like 2018’s Escape at Dannemora, for which he was nominated for an Emmy in the directing category, and the Emmy-nominated Apple TV+ series Severance.

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