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TAORMINA, Sicily – Melanie Griffith said on Thursday that she made a big mistake in her career when she turned away from comedy to try to be a “serious” actress, while Ben Stiller — accompanied by an oversized entourage — offered an update on the status of the highly anticipated sequel to his popular 2001 comedy Zoolander.
Griffith and Stiller were the main attractions at the Taormina Film Festival Thursday, with both hosting well-attended Master Class events at Taormina’s PalaCongressi and then receiving career honors on Thursday evening at the 2,700-year-old Teatro Antico, ahead of the day’s main screening, the Italian premiere of Pierre Salvadori‘s Dans la cour, starring Catherine Deneuve.
Griffith’s trip to Sicily for the Taormina Fest was her first high-profile public appearance since her separation from husband Antonio Banderas.
In her Master Class event, organizers asked participants not to ask Griffith about her personal life, though a few questions tried to venture close to the topic. Still, the 56-year-old actress was candid in her responses, saying she made a mistake by turning away from comedies at the height of her career with films like Pacific Heights and The Bonfire of the Vanities.
“The mistake wasn’t that I wanted to be a ‘serious’ actress,” she said. “The mistake was that I thought I couldn’t be a serious actress if I did comedies. Now I know I can. I should have stayed with the kinds of roles that suit me. I’d still like to do more comedies.”
Griffith also announced that she would not appear in Ithaca, the planned directorial debut of longtime friend Meg Ryan, a guest in Taormina a year ago.
“I am still a big supporter of the project, but I was informed that the scene I was supposed to be in has been cut from the film,” she said.
In his Master Class, Stiller also had bad news for fans anticipating a sequel to Zoolander,
“The film’s been discussed and in some way in the works for 10 years,” he said, before a packed crowd that included Stiller’s entourage of 20 staffers and family members. “But there are no plans to start production any time soon.”
Stiller had a couple of unusual interactions with the standing-room-only crowd: first when he accepted the gift of a hand-painted portrait from one fan and then made another young fan’s day when he agreed to allow him onstage to collect an autograph and pose for a photo together.
The 60-year-old festival continues on Friday, with a Teatro Antico Italian premiere of Diego Luna‘s biopic Cesar Chavez — like Dans la cour, a production that first screened at the Berlin Film Fest — the day’s main attraction. The event, which began on June 14, concludes on Saturday.
Ornella Sgroi contributed to this report.
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