Last week brought the amazing news that finally, after almost a decade, Ben Stiller is thinking seriously about a “Zoolander” sequel. He’s currently writing it with “Iron Man 2” scribe Justin Theroux, who will also direct. That’s the news as we had it last week.
Well we chatted up Stiller over the weekend at the junket for “Greenberg,” the upcoming comedy he stars in for writer/director Noah Baumbach. He had quite a bit to say about the coming return of his iconic male model parody. Why it’s taken so long for a sequel, where the story will go, who we can expect to see return… maybe not everything you want to know, but lots of juicy info nonetheless.
“Yes, it is true,” Stiller confirmed of the sequel plans. “We are in the process of getting a script written. It’s in the early stages, but it’s gonna happen. We’ve been trying for years to… figure it out. It’ll have input from all the… ’Zoolander’ people. It’s just… taken awhile.”
Stiller also confirmed that he’s working with Theroux on putting it all together, though he pulled up short of calling it a co-written collaboration. “Other people have worked on the script,” he explained. “There have been earlier scripts that [’Zoolander’ writer John] Hamburg’s had input on, and Nick Stoller and people… we’re just going to take the best of what we have.”
Most importantly: Stiller and his “’Zoolander’ people” now have a starting point to work from. “We have a new story idea that we feel excited about and we’re going to try to go forward,” he said. “The beginning of the movie is [set]… 10 years later, and Derek & Hansel are literally forgotten. Nobody even knows who they are, so they have to re-invent themselves.”
Since this is a story about the world of fashion, whatever’s written will have to reflect how people who have been out of the loop would return to an industry that changes seasonally after 10 years. “Well I think it has to be [a ’Zoolander’ for a new generation],” Stiller explained. “The fashion world, you know, you go away for a year and its changed. It just happens so quickly.”
The biggest roadblock for Stiller’s return to the character has been the absence of its creator. “The tough thing over the years has just been that Drake Sather, who created the character, is not around anymore,” he explained. Sather, a former “Saturday Night Live” and “Dennis Miller Show” writer, died in 2004 in an apparent suicide. “For a long time that was, for me, that hardest thing to figure out how to move forward through.”
Of course, one of the biggest questions that remains is whether or not Will Ferrell’s Malaysia-hating fashion designer Mugatu will return. “If Will says yes, he definitely has to be a part of it,” Stiller said. “To me, Mugatu is one of the classic screen villains of all time.”
On a scale of 1 to 10, how excited are you for the “Zoolander” sequel? What story elements from the first movie will the follow-up definitely have to tie up or at least reference? Is Mugatu a must-have returning character?