Ben Stiller was born and raised in New York, where his parents (Anne Meara and Jerry Stiller) both worked as comedians.
Stiller showed an interest in film at an early age, and made films with his sister (the actress Amy Stiller) and at 10 years old, he made his acting debut, appearing as a guest on his mother's show Kate McShane. He was inspired by the TV show Second City Television to move into sketch comedy.
In 1983, Stiller graduated from New York's Calhoun School and joined the University of California as a film student. He dropped out after nine months, however, to return to New York and undertake acting classes.
Ben Stiller: Launching his Career
One of Stiller's first Broadway roles was alongside John Mahoney in The House of Blue Leaves. During the play's run, his fellow cast members were so impressed with his comedic talents, that he made a short sketch called 'The Hustler of Money' (a parody of The Color of Money). The sketch was aired on Saturday Night Live in 1987.
A few years later, Stiller made Elvis Stories, a short film that featured Mike Myers and John Cusack. This then led to the production of Back to Brooklyn, for MTV.
MTV then offered Stiller The Ben Stiller Show, which mixed comedy sketches with music videos. Stiller's impersonations of Al Pacino, William Shatner and Tom Cruise were particularly popular. The show then moved to the FOX network, with Judd Apatow as co-writer.
Ben Stiller: Film Career
Ben Stiller's directorial debut was Reality Bites (in which he also starred), which was produced by Danny DeVito. He then appeared alongside his parents in Heavyweights as well as an uncredited role in Happy Gilmore, which starred Adam Sandler.
Stiller's next major directorial role was on Jim Carrey's The Cable Guy.
In 1996, Stiller was invited to host VH1's Fashion Awards and invented the character Derek Zoolander. The skit was eventually made into a feature length film, Zoolander.
There's Something About Mary, the film that he made with Cameron Diaz propelled Ben Stiller into the Hollywood high-life and into the public eye. Movie success continued for Stiller, with Meet the Parents and The Royal Tenenbaums.
Ben Stiller's most successful year came in 2004, when he starred in a number of box office hits, including Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Meet the Fockers and Starsky & Hutch.
He then ventured into the world of animation, with Madagascar, a film so successful that it spawned a sequel.
A Night at the Museum saw Ben Stiller fall from grace with his critics. However, Stiller's reputation up until that point meant that the film grossed $115 million in 10 days.
Ben Stiller: Personal Life
Ben Stiller has been romantically linked with a number of actresses, including Amanda Peet and Calista Flockhart. Eventually he married Christine Taylor. Stiller and Taylor met each other whilst working on Heat Vision and Jack. They have since worked together on Zoolander and Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. They have one daughter, Ella Olivia (b. 2005).
Stiller is a public supporter of the Democratic Party and has donated money in the past to Hillary Clinton's Presidential Campaign.