Ben Stiller, Ricky Gervais and Hank Azaria Interview

Posted in Film, interview by flicksandbits on September 9, 2009

While promoting Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian I was fortunate to interview Ben Stiller, Ricky Gervais and Hank Azaria.

Night At The Museam: Battle Of The Smithsonian is the sequel to the american adventure comedy fim Night At The Museum (which has grossed over $571,069,550). The film starred Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Amy Adams, Owen Wilson, Rami Malek, Hank Azaria, Bill Hader, Ricky Gervais, Christopher Guest and Steve Coogan.

There’s a line in the film that goes ‘Happiness is doing what you love with people you love’, would you endorse that?

Ben Stiller: Yeah definitely that’s the idea behind the movie, we had to figure out a way of making a 2nd movie because at the end of the 1st movie everything was so happy, so we had to figure out a problem to begin the next one with. The idea that Larry becomes successful and all the problems of success draw him away from happiness, success doesn’t always lead to happiness.

Ricky Gervais: I just did the film for money.

Hank Azaria: If you’re asking me if I’m in love with Ben and Rick the answer is yes, I did fall in love with them.

Hank how many different voices did you go through before settling on the final voices?

Hank Azaria: With Kah Mun Rah I wanted him to sound stupid, with Abraham Lincoln I would mess around with temporary voices on set and they ended up using the one I made up on set, we tried a bunch of different things, Abraham Lincoln was hard because he had to sound Presidential but also funny. We tried a bunch of different version of Kah Mun Rah, I had 5 or 6 at the testing’s then as a joke at the end I said what about Boris Karloff (in the accent) he’d be a good Mummy if he were still alive. I still can’t believe we actually used that but it made them laugh.

Ben Stiller: It’s such a silly voice

Ricky Gervais: I used my own accent, I’ve nailed it.

How do feel about Night At The Museum 3 if all goes well with this? Do you see this as something that can go further or do you think it stops here because it can’t get much bigger than this with the Smithsonian?

Ben Stiller: I don’t know you know, with this one we had to figure out an interesting story, the idea of doing a 3rd one would be great and a lot of fun, but the main thing would be how to figure out how to sustain itself. If the audience want to see it there’s ideas already floating around but working with these guys again would be great. It’s just trying to figure out something different.

Ricky Gervais: We could just do it in a normal museum where nothing comes to life that would be great.

What type of jobs did you have before you became an actor?

Ben Stiller: I was a bus boy, a really bad waiter, I waited on Dudley Moore once and I was very interested in what he was talking about so I hovered around him, I think I annoyed him, I also worked in a camera store when I was a teenager, I was a scuba a diving instructor in Massachusetts for a couple summers. It all helped me in my career (laughs). I was a bad student but I liked archaeology, I wanted to become an archaeologist but because I had such bad grades I wasn’t gonna get in to any good College so I fell back on acting.

Hank Azaria: I was a bus boy as well but I was a really good one, I could clear a table really well. In fact I was so bored I would try out accents, people would look through you if you sounded regular but if I said ‘Are you finished with this’(in a really good French accent) they would be like where are you from? My first job was as a bar tender though, I was fired from every job I had except acting.

Ricky Gervais: I worked in an Office (laughs). That worked out alright.

Ricky do you ever get back to Reading that much? Do you ever meet up with the other Reading Hollywood contingent at all Kate Winslot?

Ricky Gervais: No I think she was born on the other side of the tracks (laughs). I go back about twice a year to see folks dotted around and see family. When I lived there I didn’t go out after dark obviously, it’s like I Am Legend (laughs). I’m actually in pre production for a film set in Reading but we’re not filming it there we’re filming it in Hampstead though.  I had good times in Reading I thought it was great and I got out when I was 18. I’ve got fond memories from Reading.

What was it like working with each other and were you distracted by Amy Adams flight  trousers?

Ben Stiller: I enjoyed the trousers, I thought she looked great in them, I was happy to shoot scenes with here every day, we did laugh a lot, it was great to hang out with people who you admire.

Ricky Gervais: I was only filming for two day’s

Ben Stiller: The first one was exciting because we had week and weeks of acting with nothing, running away from Dinosaurs when their not actually there, not having people to interact with, then Ricky shows up and we were like oh my god!

Ricky Gervais: So I was better than nothing (laughs)

Ben Stiller: Yes but it was almost too much, when Ricky Gervais shows up when you’ve been acting with no one it’s too much. We laughed a lot though.

Ricky Gervais: My part was just me trying to put Ben off, I got crazier in this one, I went into the 1st movie a bit blind, I didn’t know how it was gonna be, but then when I saw the finished product I got it, just go crazy, so when I went over for the 2nd I went madder and madder, it got to the point where Ben had to stop laughing and tell me it was ridiculous. Which is the nicest thing anyone’s said to me.

Ben Stiller: He went off on a crazy tangent what my character was like then he went into a weird cowboy character, it was so far from reality, there was no motivation for it (laughs) I had to say something. It was always exciting working with these guys. Hank and I have been friends for a long time. Sitting around on set with these people like Steve Coogan and Christopher Guest, we all look up to him and he’s such a sweet guy, I still can’t believe he’s in the movie.

Ricky Gervais: No off switch, it’s a machine and I met the monkey.

Hank Azaria: The monkey packs a wallop. I know Ben’s tired of it.

Ben Stiller: I’m beyond tired I resent her now. The slapping scene is not the most exciting day of the shoot for me, it’s one monkey playing to parts.

Ricky Gervais: With the trousers I only worked with Ben and the monkey so I never got to see them. I haven’t even seen the film, its brilliant though(laughs) I only read my bit in the script.

Hank Azaria: I told her about my distraction with the trousers, I said something really clever like nice pants, they really hug you from behind.

If the 3 of you had to steal something from any museum in the world what would it be?

Ben Stiller: Something valuable

Hank Azaria: Yeah I’d find out what was the most expensive thing.

Ricky Gervais: I’m into evolution so I’d probably take Lucy the first hominid.

Ben Stiller: I just went to Egypt and saw King Tut that was great I’d take that.

Hank Azaria: I’d take the Hope Diamond because it expensive

What did you guys think of the waxworks and would you ever want to get one of yourselves?

Ricky Gervais: I’ve been asked to do a couple things like that, one was for chocolate but I didn’t want to sit there for three hours, if they can do it from a photo their welcome (laughs). There a bit creepy though

Ben Stiller: Yeah they are quite creepy

Ricky Gervais: The best ones I’ve ever seen are in this film, the eyes looked real, they were amazing.

Ben Stiller: The one of Hank I had to email the picture to him because it looked exactly like him it was full sized as well. It was weird.

Hank Azaria: I was creeped out by them.

If you could make any inanimate object come to life what would it be?

Hank Azaria: I’d like for my car to come alive, we could scheme up some adventures together.

Ricky Gervais: Is it the car or do you want to be like David Hasslehoff?

Ben Stiller: I’d like to make David Hasslehoff come alive (laughs)

Hank Azaria: That’s your answer David Hasslehoff!