NEW YORK – In “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb,” Ben Stiller resumes his role as security guard Larry Daley, now spanning the globe with his favorite characters on a quest to save the museum’s life-giving magic before it’s gone forever.
The film also stars the late Robin Williams, Owen Wilson, Steve Coogan, Ricky Gervais, Rebel Wilson, Ben Kingsley, and Dan Stevens as Sir Lancelot.
“These movies are great fantasy pieces. We’re rewriting history in a way to make people laugh,” Stiller says. “We also have a lot of new cast members like Rebel and Dan to keep it fresh.”
The death of Williams, a “Museum” regular as a revived Theodore Roosevelt, makes this release bittersweet.
“He was one of my comedic idols,” Stiller says. “This was the only time I got to work with him. I found he was very generous and kind. He made everyone feel like an equal. I feel really lucky to have spent that time with him.”
It has been a busy few years for Stiller, who directed “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” last year. For “Museum,” he left the directing to Shawn Levy, but he relishes his days behind the camera.
“There are times when directing yourself is frustrating,” he says. “You get to those moments where you wish someone else was directing you. I’d think, ‘I wish Martin Scorsese could just stop by. I wish I could get some advice as an actor.’
“But the bottom line in life is that you have to be generous with yourself. You can’t always be so hard on yourself.”
Stiller says he’s a work in progress. “I’m at a point in my life where I’m more aware of the moment. I appreciate small things,” he says. “You realize how temporary everything is in life, so you really have to enjoy it.”
At home with actress wife Christine Taylor, he’s a hands-on father to daughter Ella, 12, and son Quinlin, 9.
Will they be joining the family business?
“My daughter acts in school plays and my son is acting all the time,” he says with a laugh. “In life, he’s quite a character.”
As the son of comedians Anne Meara and Jerry Stiller, he isn’t discouraging his own offspring from entering the family business.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if they headed in that direction,” he says. “My thing is as long as they’re having fun and doing their thing, then I’m happy. I want them to do what they love in life.”
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