Ben Stiller was blindsided by “Zoolander 2 ”flopping: 'It really freaked me out'

Ben Stiller was blindsided by “Zoolander 2 ”flopping: 'It really freaked me out'

"It definitely affected me for a long time."

Not even Derek's Blue Steel could mask Ben Stiller's heartbreak over the box office flop that was Zoolander 2.

The actor looks back at the panned 2016 sequel in an upcoming episode of David Duchovny's new podcast Fail Better — set to explore life's misses and how failure shapes a person — and reveals he was "blindsided" that the film wasn't a success.

"I thought everybody wanted this," Stiller, 58, said of the sequel (via PEOPLE). "And then it's like, 'Wow, I must have really f---ed this up. Everybody didn't go to it. And it's gotten these horrible reviews.' It really freaked me out because I was like, 'I didn't know [it] was that bad?'"

As a result, he went into a spiral of self-doubt. "What scared me the most on that one was l'm losing what I think what's funny, the questioning yourself," he confessed. "It was definitely blindsiding to me. And it definitely affected me for a long time."

<p>Philippe Antonello / Paramount Pictures / courtesy Everett </p> Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, and Penelope Cruz in 'Zoolander 2'

Philippe Antonello / Paramount Pictures / courtesy Everett

Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, and Penelope Cruz in 'Zoolander 2'

The introspection that followed allowed Stiller to pursue other creative projects. "The wonderful thing that came out of that for me was just having space where, if that had been a hit, and they said, 'Make Zoolander 3 right now,' or offered some other movie, I would have just probably jumped in and done that," he said.

"But I had this space to sit with myself and 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."

Zoolander, which he also directed and co-wrote, starred Stiller as Derek Zoolander, a clueless male model who is brainwashed into killing the prime minister of Malaysia. The cast included Owen Wilson (as Stiller's rival Hansel) and Will Ferrell (as Jacobim Mugatu, the designer behind the brainwashing). The comedy was a box office success, grossing $45.1 million domestically and $60.8 million worldwide against a $28 million budget.

Stiller served as star, director, and co-writer of the sequel, which saw the return of original stars Wilson and Ferrell and welcomed Penélope Cruz and Benedict Cumberbatch. The film — centered on Derek and Hansel's reunion at a fashion event in Rome, where they're thrust into a conspiracy — was largely panned by critics and flopped at the box office, grossing $28.8 million domestically and $56.7 million worldwide against a reported $50 million budget.

After the movie tanked, Stiller said he had no desire to do comedy.

"Why didn't you want to?" Duchovny asked. "Was it anger?"

"It was just hurt," noted Stiller. "Finding yourself in terms of what creatively you want to be and do, I always loved directing. I always loved making movies. I always, in my mind, loved the idea of just directing movies since I was a kid, and not necessarily comedies. And so, over the course of like the next like, nine or 10 months, I was able to develop these limited series."

Stiller's post-Zoolander projects include the miniseries Escape at Dannemora, Severance, In the Dark, and High Desert, all of which he executive produced or directed.

To hear more from Stiller's interview, tune into his episode of Fail Better on May 7.

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