Ben Stiller has carved out a peculiar niche in Hollywood since his breakout role in 1996’s “Flirting With Disaster”: the awkward yet endearing man-child. A study of the majority of his roles, from “Meet the Parents” to “The Royal Tenenbaums” to “Night at the Museum,” make for something of a master class in the human variations of embarrassment, self-consciousness and self-doubt. Yet it’s possible that until now, Stiller has never delivered a scene as uncomfortably awkward as the sex scene in his new drama, “Greenberg,” out Friday (March 26).
“That’s how it felt to do,” Stiller told MTV News recently.
Stiller’s Roger Greenberg is a 40-something lost soul who has some serious gripes about how his life has turned out and who decides that his best course of action for a while is to do a whole lot of nothing. He ends up leaving New York and shacking up at his brother’s Hollywood Hills home. There he meets Florence (Greta Gerwig), his bro’s assistant and a halfhearted aspiring singer. Greenberg ends up stopping by her apartment and, well, cue the clumsiness.
“Those are things you don’t really think about too much when you’re doing them,” Stiller said of shooting the scene. “You kind of just have to, when you’re doing it, serve the story and try and be as real and in the moment and do what’s required.”
What was required was among the more clinical and unromantic sex scenes you’re likely to see onscreen. There’s an exhausted resignation to the proceedings; an almost oh-let’s-just-get-it-over-with attitude on both their parts. And it’s all shot in a very unflattering manner by writer/director Noah Baumbach. Gerwig knew exactly what she was getting herself into.
“It was written in the script,” she explained. “I knew that there would be awkward sex scenes, but they were so wonderfully awkward. They were so specifically awkward. I was thrilled that they were going to be making this movie. Everything was highly choreographed and planned out, so it wasn’t shocking.”
Nor was it entirely unpleasant, thanks to the efforts of Stiller. “Ben is a great actor and such a gentleman and made sure that everything was OK with me,” Gerwig said.
Check out everything we’ve got on “Greenberg.”
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