THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY
A Very Modern Mitty
The exuberant hilarity and bittersweet poignancy of people chasing crazy
dreams has always underscored Ben Stiller's comedic storytelling approach. As an
actor, he has become one of the world's biggest comic stars with a chain of
Everyman characters facing outrageous circumstances - whether a man trying to
impress his terrifying in-laws in the Meet The Parents series, a lonely museum
night watchman who can't believe his eyes in the Night At The Museum romps, or a
guy who gets a second chance with his high school dream date in the
boundary-pushing comedy There's Something About Mary.
As a director, he has garnered critical acclaim for his own brand of sharp
yet sweet comedy, including his affectionate send-up of the fashion world in
Zoolander and his triumphant satire of action movie madness and camaraderie in
Tropic Thunder. But THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY took Stiller to places he
has never been before, both in front of and behind the camera. It is at once his
most visually adventurous epic and his most stirringly human tale.
The film lovingly winks back at the great American humorist Thurber's
timeless fable about a mild-mannered man's need to turn his failures into
something far more astonishing in his head. But Stiller's Mitty is very much a
man of our times. Like so many of us, he feels hemmed in by an increasingly
depersonalized, electronic world that is rapidly changing everything - one that
is making his very way of life obsolete. His only out is a madcap barrage of
reveries that keep him a constant hero battling for a better, fairer world. It's
his own private realm he shares with no one . . . that is, until his search for
a famous photographer's (Sean Penn) missing negative gives him an unexpected
chance to connect with another.
It was the tug-of-war between Mitty's shaky, uncertain reality and the
beautiful impulses behind his eye-popping dreams that first drew Stiller to
Steven Conrad's adaptation of THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY. He'd seen other
attempts at re-visiting the story, but none had hit home.
"Steve's script wasn't trying to revisit the 1940s Danny Kaye classic, which
was so wonderfully unique to its time. He found a different way of telling the
story, one that was smart and compelling but that created a modern context for
this character that audiences can relate to," says Stiller. "I loved that the
script honored the idea of an ordinary guy as hero in a way that's lyrical,
soulful and funny. Steve said to me, 'inside the breast of every American man
beats the heart of a hero' -- and I wanted the film to have that kind of respect
for all the things ordinary people go through and how challenging life is for
all of us whether you're a guy that nobody pays attention to or you're the
President of the United States. Walter's journey celebrates the potential that
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