Ben Stiller on 'Night at the Museum' & the Hardest Part of Raising Kids

night at the museum: secret of the tomb

Kids today have a reputation for spending a lot of time on their butts in front of the TV, but Ben Stiller has a confession: the last thing his kids want to do is sit around watching a movie. Given he's one of the biggest movie actors of our time, it's a little shocking for dear old Dad. 

Apparently Stiller's daughter Ella, 12, and son Quinlin, 9, aren't big on following Dad to museums either. Which is also ironic, given he stars as a museum night guard in his latest movie, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, being released in theaters December 19.


Tomb is the third in a trilogy where Stiller, a night guard at the Museum of Natural History, must cope with the fact that the museum artifacts come alive at night and end up in all sorts of trouble. In Secret of the Tomb, Stiller finds out that the Egyptian tablet that animates his nocturnal friends must be fixed to keep the "magic" of the museum alive.

The Stir caught up with the celebrity dad to find out what else he finds "shocking" about his kids and the skinny on his new film:

On being a teenage "bad--s":
As a teenager I remember cutting school and going to the Museum of Natural History. Ben Stiller, juvenile delinquent.

On raising creative kids:
I like taking my kids to museums, I would do that every weekend. But they don't love it. I love to watch movies with my kids. But they don't love that much either. I say, "Do you want to watch a movie?" He's like, "No, I want to play." I'm like, "All right, you want to be creative and actually come up with your own stuff? You don't want to just sit and stare at a screen?"

On the importance of "free" time for kids:
My kids really love to just hang out at the house and play. They do have a lot of pressure going to school and after-school activities and things like that. They really appreciate having that free time when they have it. And then what's great is that things develop -- whether it's going outside and playing baseball or going inside and just playing something that they're into. Maybe I might not necessarily be into it in the beginning. But then you get into it with them. And then it's great because it leads to something else. And that's the best really.

More from The Stir: Quiz: How Well Do You Know Your TV Christmas Classics?

On the hardest part about having kids:
I've had kids over the course of making [the Night at the Museum] movies. And they do grow up, and they become their own people. And even seeing my daughter at what she is now at 12 as being a young adult, there's a certain bitter-sweetness to the whole thing because you just see how quickly they are going off on their own and not being your little kids anymore.

His favorite part of being a night guard:
I like my flashlight. It's the closest I'll really come to having a gun in a movie. So it's been fun to learn how to flip it. We had a flashlight sword fight in the second [movie] with Hank Azaria. And I remember we had to work on it for a while. So I tried to hang out with the cavemen more, the three cavemen. We bonded. And I tried to steal some of their tricks.

Here's a video where Ben Stiller's comedic streak inspires Sir Lancelot (Dan Stevens) to suggest he pursue a new career path:


What do your kids prefer doing -- going to a museum, watching a movie, or just playing at home?

Image via 20th Century Fox

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