Ben Stiller hates monkeys and children, but likes monkey children. At least, that's what Ricky Gervais said in the press conference for Night At The Museum 2.
Ben Stiller, Ricky Gervais and Hank Azaria were all in London for the UK Premiere of Night At The Museum 2. Before they hit the (blue) carpet, they spent half an hour making journalists laugh and occasionally spoke of the new movie.
Ricky Gervais was in hyperactive mode as he cracked jokes like a stand up routine, while fellow funnymen Ben Stiller and Hank Azaria (The Simpsons voice legend who plays villain Kah Mun Rah in the movie).
Highlights include Ricky accusing Ben of hating kids and monkeys, all three concurring that they should bring David Hasselhoff back to life and Hank discussing Amy Adams and her tight trousers...
Q - There's a lovely line in the film "happiness is doing what you love with people that you love,", was that the inspiration for this movie?
Ben Stiller: Yeah, definitely. I think that's the idea behind the movie. Because everything was so happy at the end of the first movie, we had to figure out a problem to begin the next one with and the idea that Larry becomes successful but all the problems that come with success are drawing him away from his true happiness. Success doesn't necessarily mean happiness... (silence)... Ok.
Ricky Gervais: I did it for the money
Hank Azaria: Me too. If you're asking me if I'm in love with Ben and Ricky, the answer is yes.
Q: This is your fourth movie together?
HA: But I didn’t take to him the first time.
Q: Hank, How many different voices did you go through before settling on the ones you used?
HA: The thinker was definitely written to be stupid, and I did temporary versions of the Thinker and Abraham Lincoln on the set, but they ended up using them in the movie. We tried a bunch of things, Abraham Lincoln was hard 'cos you had to be reverential, but still had to be funny.
So I got addicted to recording Abraham Lincoln but the director had to get me to stop.
We tried loads for Kah Mun Rah, and did 5 or 6 for a camera test, and as a joke at the end did (adopts Kah Mun Rah voice) what about Boris Karloff? (laughter). And I still can't believe we actually used it. It made Ben laugh. See!!
BS: It was such a silly voice...
RG: I did a Reading accent. I've nailed it.
HA: It is very convincing.
Q: Ben, how would you feel about doing a Night At The Museum 3?
BS: On the second one we had to figure out a reason, and the idea of a third would be a lot of fun but we have to figure out something that will sustain itself and there are a couple if ideas floating around, if indeed people show they want to see a third one. It would have to be different.
RG: How about a normal museum where nothing comes to life, it's just about the admin. Naturalise it a bit more.
BS: More realistic.
RG: Yeah, yeah!
BS: That'd be great.
Q: Ben in the first movie your character took a boring job, are there any jobs that any of you guys did before acting that were that dull?
BS: I was a really bad waiter and bus boy. I waited on Dudley Moore once, and I was really interested in what he was talking about, so I'd come over and I think I annoyed him.
RG: (Laughs loudly) Why 'cos you were hovering?
BS: I was hovering ‘cos it was Dudley Moore and I wanted to hear what he was saying. And then I was in a camera store as a teenager, cleaning it up and stuff. I worked as an assistant scuba diving instructor
BS: I was actually interested in archaeology but I was such a bad student I couldn’t get in to any good college. So I fell back on acting.
HA: I was a busboy as well, I was a really good one, I knew what I was doing I could clear a table...really well... in fact I would try out accents ‘cos I was bored, I noticed they would look through you if you sounded like everyone else, but if I said (adopts strange foreign accent) "are you finished with thiz?" and they’d say "where are you from?!"
What about you Ricky?
RG: I worked in an office. I took notes.
Q - I was going to talk about spanking monkeys...
RG: Does that have the same connotation in America?
BS: Yeah. David Russell had a movie called spanking the monkey. Yeah. but it definitely has that connotation here ‘cos I did the Jonathan Ross show and I said I slapped this monkey and every one laughed...
Q - With so many funnymen, was it a riot on set? Were you distracted by Amy Adams' trousers?
BS: I enjoyed the trousers. yeah, she looked great and I was happy to be in scenes with her every day. We did laugh a lot, it was great to hang out with people I admire. It’s in Ricky’s contract to only do two days. That was for both movies. What, were you there for a day?
RG: Two days!
BS: I remember the first one was really exciting when he showed up because It had been weeks and weeks of acting with nothing, running away from a dinosaur but there's nothing there, or running from Attila the Hun… and then Ricky showed up and I was like ‘oh my god’.
RG: So it was better than nothing?
BS: You can almost have too much Ricky.
RG: My two days on each movie were basically about me trying to put Ben off.
And I got crazier on this one. I went into the first movie a bit blind and not knowing how it was gonna turn out. But on the new one I went ‘oh I get it’, and the character just got madder and madder, and Ben stopped the take, laughing, and said "that's ridiculous" which is the nicest thing anyone's ever said on set.
BS: He went off on this crazy tangent about what my character was probably thinking, and doing this weird cowboy character that was supposed to be me.
BS: That was just so far from reality there was no motivation for it. But it's always exciting working with these guys, and Hank and I have been friends for a very long time. and we're sitting around on set and chatting and it's me Hank and Christopher Guest...
We all look up to Chris as a comedy god and the fact that he's in the movie...I still don't believe he's in the movie. He wanted to be a part so it was very exciting, and Robin too - I cracked up so many times.
RG: No off switch. It's incredible isn’t it? He's a machine. And I met Christin the monkey. Hadn’t met him before.
BS: It’s a she.
RG: I didn’t look. You know. Just eye to eye. What are you? Be a bit mad, wouldn't it? Ooh!
BS: She's very manly for a female monkey.
RG: She's the cleverest monkey in the world.
BS: She's not that clever. You give her food, she slaps you.
RG: First you tell me to look at what's going on downstairs then you diss it.
BS: She gets a little antzy at her time of the month too.
HA: Well I didn’t know that. I was very honoured to be slapped. All the monkey ever really does is slap you. And I didn’t realise it was a she. And she really packs a wallop that monkey. No wonder you are over it. We're all still delighted by it but you’re over tired it aren’t you?
BS: I am beyond tired. I think I resent her. Something about it.. I have a pavlonian reaction to being slapped by a monkey now.
RG: There's the headline.
BS: Wonderful headline.
HA: Did you see Ben working with the monkey?
RG: Just for one day.
HA: He really does look miserable.
BS: No it's the monkey slapping.
RG: He hates children as well.
BS: No, no I like animals.
RG: He likes Monkey children.
BS: It's just not the most exciting day of the shoot for me especially now as it’s a double, it's one monkey playing both characters…
RG: He hates this monkey.
BS: No, no!
HA: He really doesn't like it!
BS: I'd rather do scenes with you.
RG: Again, brilliant, thank you - nothing, monkey, Ricky.
Q. Back to the question, did you get distracted by Amy’s trousers?
RG: I only worked with Ben and the monkey and neither of them was wearing trousers. Little hairy legs. And the monkey. And I haven’t seen the film.
RG:…Erm I have. It's brilliant. I only read my bit of the script.
HA: I was open with Amy about my distraction with the trousers. I think I said something like 'nice pants' she was like “they really hug you from behind I’m not sure if it works, great. If not I’m ok with it.” and I said “I think it's working”.
Q: If you three had to steal something from a museum, what would it be?
RG: Well we stole all those Mummies from Egypt, so I’d probably have that collection. Like the British Museum, I’d probably go and steal stuff from other countries. Any museum?
HA: I’d have to find out what the most expensive thing was…
RG: Do you do that on Supermarket Sweep? Where you’ve gotta think about where do you go, and you go straight for the booze. Difficult one, isn’t it? I am into evolution, so I’d probably get Lucy, the first homanage (sic).
HA: I thought you meant Lucille Ball.
BS: What is a homanage (sic)?
HA: Two words that sound alike.
BS: It sounds like it’s from the Twilight Zone. Those men, what were they called? The Canomids?
HA: Those were the Canomits.
RG: Let me explain evolution to our American friends.
BS: I went to Egypt and saw King Tut’s mummy so I’d probably steal something cool like that. You said you stole Mummies? What was that about?
RG: Well the British did.
BS: Oh really?
RG: We just wiped them out and put them in the British museum.
BS: Oh right, you guys took the Egyptians…
RG: Yeah yeah yeah. We thought, “We’ll have that.”
BS: One that’s still there…
RG: If we left any then they’re yours.
BS: …one down in Luxor that’s in an actual tomb…
RG: It’s like the world, isn’t it? We said that about the world. We took what we wanted and then America came along and had what’s left.
HA: Oh I see.
RG: It’s like a metaphor, isn’t it?
HA: I’d go with the Hope diamond. Its expensive right?
RG: Can I change mine? I want the big diamond as well. Who wants bones? What an idiot.
BS: I suppose then you take the diamond and cut the protective glass with it and take everything else like a wish that gets you more wishes.
Q – What do you think of wax works?
RG: I’ve been asked to do things like that, one was chocolate, but I can’t be bothered to sit there for three hours.
BS: They wanted to do you in chocolate?
RG: Yeah. Weird, isn’t it?
BS: A full size chocolate sculpture?
RG: Yeah. You’d go round licking me. Again. I don’t see the point of going round a waxworks… “Cor look it looks like so-and-so.”
“Yeah it does.” Oh.
BS: They are a little creepy.
RG: The best I’ve ever seen are in this film. I walked around and it’s much, much better than the ones you see…the eyes looked real! You could gibe yourself the creeps looking at them.
BS: Well Hank is frozen in the first part of the movie, and you see him frozen and they made one of Hank and you hadn’t yet come on the movie and I was filming the scene so someone emailed you a picture?
BS: It was the creepiest thing, it’s my friend hank but it’s got glassy eyes. And you were bald.
HA: Really? I can swim with this on (grabs real hair and pulls). It’s all-purpose. I was creeped out by it, it was scary. I felt like I could talk to it, and I tried.
RG: I said, “Well you could have made that a bit bigger. Doesn’t have to be completely real.
HA: Oh so you peeked at those but not the monkey?
Q – If you could choose an inanimate object to come to life, what would you choose?
BS: Wow, that’s a broad, sweeping question.
RG: Give us two hours.
HA: I’d like my car to come to life. To talk.
RG: Yeah, like Knight Rider.
HA: Yeah you could have arguments with it. Scheme adventures up together
RG: Do you want a talking car or do you just want to be David Hasselhoff?
BS: Can we bring David Hasselhoff back to life?
HA: And there’s your answer, we would bring David Hasselhoff back to life.
Q – You got to share a scene weigh George Foreman, how was he?
BS: I was a little bit in awe 'cos it was George foreman. We thought it would be cool to do an infomercial, and then to do one with George, and then he was right there. He was so nice and positive and so…big.
RG: he’s amazing isn’t he? He was fighting until recently. He had a world championship when he was 54. And he has such dignity as well 'cos if it wasn’t for Mohammed ail he would have been the greatest fighter that ever lived.
BS: And the grill too.
RG: I’d bring the grill to life.