Ben Stiller has had an extensive, if somewhat narrowly focused, acting career. As a comic actor, he frequently reprises two essential character variations, the sympathetic, put-upon idiot, and the over-the-top aggressively narcissistic idiot. For heightened comic absurdity, he has on occasion appeared in films (usually in the first variation) where one of his burdens is the oddity of his parents. Now, in reality, Stiller is known for having genuinely odd parents, Jerry Stiller and Ann Meara.

* In Meet the Fockers, his parents are Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand (Focker, and Mother Focker).
* In Zoolander, his father is a coal-mining Jon Voight (Zoolander's agent being played by Jerry Stiller).
* Flirting With Disaster features Mary Tyler Moore and George Segal as his adoptive parents, and Alan Alda and Lily Tomlin as the biological parents he seeks. Along the way several other people are initially teased as his biological parents, and then revealed not to be (first tall blond Celia Weston, and then plausible but still wrong dad candidate David Patrick Kelly).
* In The Royal Tenenbaums (thanks avalyn!!) his parents were played by Tenenbaum family patriarchs Anjelica Houston and Gene Hackman.
* In Keeping the Faith (thanks Auduster!!) he's a fun rabbi with a mother keen to fix him up, played by Anne Bancroft (but with no father in sight).
* And in Heavyweights, Stiller plays cruel fitness-loving fat-camp owner Tony Perkins, and his own father.
* Now, I originally posted this list in 2017, and Stiller and Hoffman must have come across it, because in 2017 they decided to have Dustin Hoffman again take up the role of Stiller's father in The Meyerwitz Stories (thanks e2renata for the tip!!), with Adam Sandler as Stiller's half-brother, and Candice Bergen as his birth-mother.
* But perhaps the most impressively on-the-nose casting of the father of Ben Stiller harks back to 2008, when the dad was.... Bernie Mac in Madagascar 2 (thanks again e2renata) -- Bernie Mac voices Zuba, the alpha-lion father of Stiller's forlorn dancing zoo lion Alex, with Stiller's mother being voiced by Sherri Shepherd.
It is not completely clear what characteristics qualify somebody to play a parent of Ben Stiller's, but one component is surely the capacity to act with an absurdly outsized persona.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.