Ben Stiller is caustic without a cause, something like Napoleon had he served as a mere comedian/actor or, better put for his times, court jester. Stiller has the perfect life and exudes confidence to such an extent that one wonders whether confidence is a kind of systemic poison that serves as an irritant not to the person who swallowed the poison but to those within vicinity of that person. All of this is to say my interview started poorly.

“What do you want?” Stiller says.

“Tell me about your latest film, Night at the Museum 2.”

“It’s funny, okay? It’s funny because I’m in it.”

“When I interviewed Robin Williams, he seemed to insinuate that you’re not so easy to work with.”

“Really? Is Robert De Niro easy to work with? Why should I be easy to work with? I’m as easy to work with as the next person, if the next person’s Ben Stiller.”

I try another tack.

Something About Mary is now considered a classic. Did that film change your career?”

“Of course it changed my career. It made me rich. Richer. I’m now extra rich. Being extra rich changed my career. I don’t give a shit now. Plus I married a blond. Are you rich? Got a blond wife?  Next.”

“How’s your relationship with Owen Wilson?”

“He’s my gay fiancee, okay?  We’re having a gay marriage next week in Iowa. Happy? We’re adopting a baby and settling down together. We’ll wear matching shirts to the mall. Is that what you want? I’m Mrs. Owen Wilson. Jesus.”

Things are getting out of control. I’m afraid Stiller might punch me in the foot. I try to settle him down.

“Back to the film. Surely you must feel the necessity of promoting it?”

“The necessity? Let me tell you about necessity: I’m going beyond necessity. After this, it’s me and Bobby De Niro. We don’t do promotion, or if we do, we talk as if we don’t hear the questions. That’s what this is: practice. You’re my little interview mannequin. Hi, interview mannequin: Wanna suck my dick? Promotion? I am the promotion. Put me on the poster; there’s your promotion. Write ‘Starring Ben Stiller’ and you just sold out the theaters. This is the last time, I told them, the last time I bother. Conan O’Brien? Fuck that leprechaun. Jay Leno? Why don’t you sell a few cars and get your face shortened? David Letterman? Like talking to a corpse puppet.  Don’t ask me about influences, either. I influenced myself. I’ve been influencing myself since I don’t know when. I came out of the womb funny. Even then, they wanted promotion. ‘Cry, little baby, cry.’ ‘Okay. Waaaaaaa. I cried. Happy? Wipe this shit off me. Where the hell was I, vagina hell? Jesus Christ.’ This interview is over. I hope on the way home that you die in a fatal car accident. I won’t because my car’s wrapped in six layers of steel and has three air bags just for me. Okay? So why don’t you hurry off to your fatal car accident? You probably don’t even have health insurance. Can you say loser? Fucking loser. L-O-S-E-R.”

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PAUL A. TOTH's Airplane Novel, already a Midwest Book Review Reviewer's Choice and the 9/11 novel, is available now. His other novels include Finale, Fishnet and Fizz. Click here to visit his sites.

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