Ben Stiller 'Hurt' and Shaken by 'Zoolander 2' Major Flop
Paramount Pictures

Ben Stiller opens up about the disheartening performance of 'Zoolander 2' and how it catalyzed a period of introspective growth and diversification in his career.

AceShowbiz - In the cacophony of Hollywood successes and box office blockbusters, the stories of films that do not meet expectations often become whispers that fade into oblivion. However, Ben Stiller, the mind and face behind the much-anticipated sequel "Zoolander 2," breaks the silence on how the film's failure became a pivotal moment in his career.

During a candid conversation with David Duchovny on the podcast "Fail Better," Stiller reflected on the movie's underperformance and the subsequent personal and professional growth he experienced.

"Zoolander 2" was released amidst high hopes in 2016, following the cult classic status of its predecessor. Stiller co-wrote, directed, and starred in the sequel, bringing back familiar faces from the original and introducing new ones. However, the film managed only a $29 million domestic gross on a $50 million budget and was met with harsh critiques, amassing a mere 22% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Stiller admitted, "I thought everybody wanted this. And then it's like, 'Wow, I must have really f***ed this up. Everybody didn't go to it. And it's gotten these horrible reviews.' "

The critical reception shook Stiller's confidence in his sense of humor. "It really freaked me out. I didn't know if what I thought was funny was actually funny," he said. "It was definitely blindsiding to me and definitely affected me for a long time."

Despite the setback, Stiller found a silver lining in the form of introspection and new creative opportunities. "I had space to kind of sit with myself and work on other projects that I had been interested in, like directing non-comedies," he explained.

This reflection compelled him to reassess his creative path, leading him to move away from comedy and into the development of projects that diverge from his comedic roots, like the critically acclaimed crime drama "Escape at Dannemora" (2018) and the Emmy-nominated series "Severance" (2022).

"It was just hurt," Stiller said of the initial disappointment. "I had always loved directing, making movies, and developing new ideas. This space allowed me to focus on those aspects more fully."

According to Stiller, the failure of "Zoolander 2" became a catalyst for professional growth. It forced him to confront his assumptions about comedy and gave him the freedom to explore new creative directions.

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