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ENVY

About The Production
"The interesting thing about envy,” director/producer Barry Levinson observes, "is that it's part of the human condition. We try to deny it, to hide it, to cover it up, but it's in all of us. Early on, when I read the script for ‘Envy,' I thought it was an interesting fable-like story about two best friends. One says, ‘I have this great idea; come on in with me.' His friends answers, ‘Are you crazy? Of the 50 terrible ideas you've had, that has to be the stupidest.' The next thing you know, that stupid, little idea becomes worth millions and millions of dollars. Where do they go from there? I thought that was worthwhile exploring in a comedic fashion.”

Screenwriter Steve Adams admits, "I generally want the scripts I write to be about things that concern me, too, and this story began with my own envy of other people's successes. I found out it's a common theme. When I would talk to other people about it, they knew just what I was talking about. In this case, it is the kind of envy that comes between two longtime friends who share everything…even their jobs. They are just everymen—guys who work together, come home, and wistfully dream of having more. Then this thing happens and one of them does get more…much more.” 

Ben Stiller and Jack Black star as the two best friends who find themselves on very divergent paths. Stiller plays Tim Dingman, who passes up an opportunity to get in on the invention of a spray that makes poop disappear, appropriately dubbed Vapoorizer. Jack Black plays the man behind Vapoorizer, Nick Vanderpark, Tim's best friend and now—thanks to grateful dog owners everywhere—filthy rich neighbor.

Stiller offers, "Tim Dingman is living a rather mundane existence, with a wife and two kids, and a job at a sandpaper factory. He's a real practical guy, not much of a visionary like his friend, Nick Vanderpark. Nick is always coming up with inventions that are going to change his life, and Tim is the naysayer who thinks Nick has his head in the clouds. And, of course, Tim is wrong, tragically wrong. Tim becomes so driven by envy, it screws up his friendship. But what's really eating away at him is that it's his own fault. He had every opportunity to get in on the deal, so there's that constant, nagging thought of ‘If only I had made that one decision…'”

Jack Black asserts that his character remains blissfully unaware of the envy gnawing away at his best friend, Tim. "Nick assumes that the Dingmans are as stoked about his newfound wealth as he is. He thinks they are happy for him…like if the team you were rooting for won the championship. Well, the Vanderparks have just won the Super Bowl of dog poop. They're not just rich; we're talkin' stinking, filthy rich. They build a palace and have people attending to their every need. Nick even has the best hairstylists from Milan, so now the ‘do' he has—you know ‘Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory?'—it's part Oompa Loompa and part Little Lord Fauntleroy. It's quite fetching, if I do say so myself,” Black laughs.

"Ben and Jack are terrific, the way they play off each other,” Levinson says. "Their energies are so different, which served us well for this movie because you want that collision of personalities. It allowed for these two characters to have a very interesting dynamic. Ben is great at building a slow burn, while Jack has the more expansive character. And for Ben, playing against that required more restraint, which I think is very hard to do.”

Despite their different approaches, Stiller and Black have only admiration for each other's acting style. Stiller remarks, "Jack is really good because he doesn't question it; he just goes for it. He commits to it 100 percent, which makes it a lot more fun to play opposite him.”

Black reciprocates, "Ben's total commitment to whatever he's doing is really impressive. There were times we'd be in a scene and I'd be in my own world. A

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