Ben Stiller says asking his father-in-law if he could marry his daughter was ''like 'Meet the Parents' in real life''.

'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty' actor and director wed Christine Taylor 15 years ago, but likened getting permission from her father - security firm boss Albert E. 'Skip' Taylor III - to the plot of his 2000 movie, about a man trying to win over a protective ex-CIA officer in order to marry his daughter.

He told Parade magazine: ''It was like 'Meet the Parents' in real life, because Christine's father is an intimidating guy who owns a security company; we're good friends now, but at the time I was in the basement rec room saying, 'I really would like to marry your daughter'.

''He's a man of few words but he was very welcoming. I was more nervous asking him than asking her.''

Ben, 48, say his relationship with 42-year-old Christine - with whom he has daughter Ella, 11, and son Quinlin, eight - came to him ''out of the blue'' and developed from then just being friends.

He added: ''Our relationship was a gradual thing that happened over a quick period of time, maybe seven or eight months.

''We just started hanging out with each other and it developed into, 'Wow, this feels great. I really like this person. I think I love this person. I really do - I love this person.' It hit me out of the blue.''