Nov. 5, 2013 at 2:36 PM ET
It's an infamous and iconic scene in movie comedy. Ben Stiller's character in 1998's "There's Something About Mary" ends up with a rather personal substance hanging from his ear, and Cameron Diaz mistakes it for hair gel.
But Stiller didn't think the scene would work -- not because of the sight gag with the "gel," but he couldn't believe his character wouldn't have noticed the issue.
"My big thing with that scene was that I argued with the (directors Robert and Peter) Farrelly brothers all during the shot, asking how he could not feel it on his ear?" Stiller told the New York Times. "I was lobbying them to have a back story that the character had somehow, like, lost sensitivity in his ear, like he had gotten hit as a kid or something. They finally told me it doesn’t matter, and I should quit thinking about it."
Next up for Stiller: He directs and stars in "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," based on the iconic James Thurber short story about a mild-mannered man with elaborate daydreams. When that film premiered at the New York Film Festival in October, he jokingly thanked the organization for "having the courage to show a Ben Stiller movie."
When asked why he made the joke, Stiller told the Times, "You wonder whether they see 'Night at the Museum' guy or the 'Zoolander' guy. I was intimidated because I consider it a prestigious festival, and there are a lot of really great, artsy films there, and I didn’t know how the audience would react to mine."
Fortunately, the audience reacted well, but Stiller says he still had that fear "that people would throw tomatoes or something."
"The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" opens Dec. 25.