Ben Stiller: Roger Ebert Apologized for Blistering 'Zoolander' Review

Ben Stiller

Apatow executive produced Fox’s seminal The Ben Stiller Show; produced the Stiller-directed The Cable Guy.

Speaking at a Tribeca panel, the actor remembers an encounter with the legendary film critic.

When the late, legendary Roger Ebert reviewed Ben Stiller's Zoolander, he aimed straight for the jugular.

"There have been articles lately asking why the United States is so hated in some parts of the world," Ebert wrote in a review published Sept. 28, 2001. "As this week's Exhibit A from Hollywood, I offer Zoolander, a comedy about a plot to assassinate the prime minister of Malaysia because of his opposition to child labor. You might want to read that sentence twice."

Speaking at a Tribeca Film Festival panel Sunday afternoon, Stiller -- who wrote, directed and starred in the comedy -- recalled an apologetic encounter with Ebert while both were appearing as guests on The Tonight Show.

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"It seemed rather harsh to me," Stiller said in a Tribeca Talks Directors Series discussion with Jay Roach (via the Huff Post). "To his credit, I ran into him like five or six years later backstage at The Tonight Show, and he said, 'Hey, I just want to apologize to you. I wrote that about Zoolander, and I [now] think it's really funny. Everything was a little crazy [back then]. It was Sept. 11 and I went overboard.' I said, 'Thanks for telling me backstage at The Tonight Show.'"

Stiller, who is working on a sequel to the popular film, said: "It's the old adage: if you believe the good ones, you have to believe the bad ones. I know people who like reading review, but, for me, you can always feel what's getting good reviews or bad reviews. People will let you know. For me, that metric is one you can't get wrapped up in. What do you do if they don't like you? I guess you can learn from them."

Ebert, whose final review was a mostly positive assessment of Terrence Malick's To the Wonder, died April 4 after battling cancer. For more of his best and worst reviews, click here.