New heist makes Stiller’s wal­let fuller

Tom Cruise isn’t the only one pulling off big feats on the big screen – Ben Stiller is scal­ing the heights in Tower Heist, writes Peter Mitchell

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES -

WITH bud­get con­scious Hol­ly­wood stu­dios slash­ing the amount they pay ac­tors to star in films, Ben Stiller, 46, is one of a hand­ful of ac­tors who still com­mands $10 mil­lion-plus pay­days to lead a movie.

The star of clas­sic come­dies in­clud­ing There’s Some­thing About Mary, Zoolan­der and Tropic Thun­der, Stiller earned a re­ported $15 mil­lion to play Josh Ko­vacs, the build­ing man­ager of a lux­ury Man­hat­tan apart­ment tower who hatches a plan to rob a crooked busi­ness­man who lives in the pent­house, in the new ac­tion-com­edy Tower Heist.

His co-star, Ed­die Mur­phy, who plays street thug Slide and a mem­ber of Ko­vacs’ gang of thieves, pock­eted $7.5 mil­lion.

The movie was di­rected by Brett Rat­ner – the out­spo­ken film­maker of the Rush Hour com­edy fran­chise who, be­fore up­set­ting the Academy of Mo­tion Pic­ture Arts and Sciences with con­tro­ver­sial com­ments, was set to pro­duce the next Os­car cer­e­mony with Mur­phy as host.

Stiller has worked with some of the best di­rec­tors and pro­duc­ers in Hol­ly­wood and is full of praise for Rat­ner, who is al­most as well known for his party boy life­style as his films.

‘‘The way he does it is like un­like any­body else. He has such an en­thu­si­asm,’’ Stiller says.

‘‘He will get you to do things that other di­rec­tors can’t. Like, he’ll do 30 takes and you won’t know why. It’s not like it’s Stan­ley Kubrick telling you to do it. It’s Brett Rat­ner.

‘‘But, the thing is he comes off as a guy who is like a char­ac­ter, is so vi­va­cious and al­ways has beau­ti­ful women around and is al­ways on his Black­berry, but when it comes down to mak­ing movies he re­ally cares. His en­ergy some­how gets you through all the stuff.’’

Stiller is heav­ily in­volved in each film he makes, whether he is wear­ing the direc­tor­writer-pro­ducer hats in Tropic Thun­der, or in Tower Heist, where he is cred­ited as an ac­tor.

Stiller met with Rat­ner for months be­fore cam­eras be­gan rolling on Tower Heist.

‘‘We had a lot of dis­cus­sions when we were

BEN Stiller has dis­cov­ered his star power is not al­ways enough to get Hol­ly­wood stu­dios to green light his films. Stiller, along with Owen Wilson and Will Fer­rell, are keen to make a se­quel to Zoolan­der, their 2001 clas­sic com­edy spoof­ing the mod­el­ling in­dus­try, but have been hit by road block af­ter road block. ‘‘It has been a slow process,’’ says Stiller. ‘‘We wrote a Zoolan­der 2 script last sum­mer and ev­ery­one wants to do it. I want to do it. Will wants to do it. Owen wants to do it. I’m just wait­ing for the stu­dio to get their act to­gether on it. I feel that for any movie I have been a part of, the strong­est con­nec­tion I have with the au­di­ence is on Zoolan­der. It was one of those movies that didn’t make a gazil­lion dol­lars, but has this fol­low­ing. I think some­how the stu­dio might not get the con­nec­tion the fans have with the movie be­cause it didn’t trans­late into box of­fice dol­lars. They don’t get what is the other vis­ceral con­nec­tion peo­ple might have with the movie. ‘I lit­er­ally think they look at it as a maths for­mula and the peo­ple that make those de­ci­sions have trou­ble look­ing out­side the box these days in this eco­nomic cli­mate.’’ de­vel­op­ing the script. We worked on it for al­most nine months be­fore it came to­gether. We had a lot of dis­agree­ments,’’ he says.

‘‘I re­ally didn’t know what would hap­pen when we got on the set, but on the first day it was great be­cause he just loves to shoot. ‘‘He loves to get into the shoot­ing.’’ Tower Heist shows the in­ner work­ings of one of Man­hat­tan’s elite apart­ment build­ings, with Stiller’s Ko­vacs in charge of the tower’s many em­ploy­ees and en­sur­ing all of the mul­ti­mil­lion­aire res­i­dents have ev­ery whim catered for. Trump In­ter­na­tional Ho­tel and Tower was used in the film.

Ko­vacs is forced to bring to­gether a team of prop­erty em­ploy­ees, and petty thief Slide, to rob pent­house owner and shady busi­ness­man Arthur Shaw (played by Alan Alda). Shaw had conned Ko­vacs into in­vest­ing the re­tire­ment sav­ings and pen­sion plans of the tower’s staff mem­bers with his com­pany, but it is re­vealed Shaw is the mas­ter­mind of a Ponzi scheme.

When Shaw is ar­rested, Ko­vacs and his gang use their knowl­edge of the build­ing to break in to the pent­house and find $30 mil­lion they be­lieve Shaw has hid­den.

Tower Heist is screen­ing now.

Tower Heist

Ben Stiller (left) and Casey Af­fleck star in the hit hol­i­day crime com­edy Ed­die Mur­phy plays an ex-con

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