Ben Stiller Was ‘Freaked Out’ by ‘Zoolander 2’ Bad Reviews: I ‘Really F*cked This Up’

Ben Stiller still can’t get over just how much “Zoolander 2” flopped.

Despite the writer/actor/director previously crediting the critically-panned sequel for jumpstarting his dramatic directing career with “Escape From Dannemora” and “Severance,” Stiller revisited the box office bomb during David Duchovny’s “Fail Better” podcast (via People).

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“I thought everybody wanted this,” Stiller said of the 2016 sequel to his 2001 classic comedy. “And then it’s like, ‘Wow, I must have really fucked this up. Everybody didn’t go to it. And it’s gotten these horrible reviews.'”

Stiller even questioned his own comedic take given the reception to the feature.

“It really freaked me out because I was like, ‘I didn’t know was that bad?’” Stiller said. “What scared me the most on that one was l’m losing what I think what’s funny, the questioning yourself … on ‘Zoolander 2,’ it was definitely blindsiding to me. And it definitely affected me for a long time.”

He added, “I had this space to kind of sit with myself and have to deal with it and other projects that I had been working on — not comedies, some of them — I have the time to actually just work on and develop. Even if somebody said, ‘Well, why don’t you go do another comedy or do this?’ I probably could have figured out something to do. But I just didn’t want to.”

Stiller told Esquire in 2022 that if “Zoolander 2” was well-received, he no doubt would have had to star in a third installment.

“If ‘Zoolander 2’ had been a huge hit, and then people were saying ‘Zoolander 3! Do this movie! That movie!’” Stiller said, while admitting that watching the film tank was “not a great experience.”

However, Stiller’s long-awaited directing debut was overdue.

“That might have taken me off the road of having the space to work on developing [‘Escape From Dannemora’],” Stiller said. “I might have gotten distracted by other bright shiny objects, but instead it opened a path where I could just do what I’d honestly wanted to do for years and years, which was: just direct something! To say, I’m just going to work on this project that I want to work on, because it takes a little time to get these things going, and if you don’t stick with it you don’t get there.”

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