Preview: Ben Stiller says comedy may now take a backseat in his career

Ben Stiller has made a career out of starring in and directing blockbuster comedies. Now, however, he’s focusing on more serious work, he told Tony Dokoupil in an interview for “CBS Sunday Morning” to be broadcast November 11.

Stiller said that his latest project, “Escape at Dannemora,” a seven-part drama about a daring prison break, changed his outlook. The mini-series, based on a real-life prison break in upstate New York in 2015, is the first piece that Stiller has directed in which he does not also appear. (“Escape at Dannemora” will be presented on Showtime, a division of CBS, beginning November 18.)

“I had the best time working on this,” Stiller said. “It was a personal revelation, directing and not acting.”

“Escape at Dannemora” stars Benicio del Toro as a swaggering career criminal named Richard Matt, and Paul Dano as David Sweat, a young grifter who was doing a life sentence for murder. Together they plotted a way out. The key to their escape was a prison employee named Joyce Mitchell (played by Patricia Arquette), who helped to smuggle power tools into the prison for them.

For Stiller, it’s a switch from his normal humorous fare, which includes the hit franchises “Zoolander,” “Night at the Museum,” “Madagascar” and “Meet the Parents.” Having directed himself over the years, Stiller said he’s always wanted to find something where he could just be behind the camera. Working on “Dannemora,” he said, “confirmed my suspicions that I would enjoy it a lot more.”

Talking with Dokoupil about the production of “Dannemora” and his career, he said that comedy is likely to take a backseat for now. “I’m not really that interested in doing that kind of stuff now,” he said. “That’s just where I’m at in life.”

To watch a trailer for “Escape at Dannemora,” click on the video player below. 

“Sunday Morning,” hosted by Jane Pauley, is broadcast on CBS Sundays beginning at 9:00 a.m. ET. Executive producer is Rand Morrison. “Sunday Morning” also streams on CBSN beginning at 9:30 a.m. ET and repeated at 1 p.m. ET, and is available on cbs.com, CBS All Access, and On Demand. You can also download the free “Sunday Morning” audio podcast at iTunes and at Play.it. 

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For more info:

  • “Escape at Dannemora” (Showtime), begins November 18

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