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Ben Stiller remembers jitters around De Niro, 'milking' the cat and more in 'Meet the Parents' reunion

The cast of "Meet the Parents" also looked back on classic scenes like the cat "milking" demonstration and Greg Focker setting the lawn on fire.
/ Source: TODAY

It wasn't just Greg Focker who was intimidated by Robert De Niro in "Meet the Parents."

Ben Stiller admitted to Hoda Kotb on TODAY Wednesday that he felt some nerves on his first day on the set with the legendary Oscar winner.

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"Yes, I was," he said before laughing. "I don't think Bob did anything to help me out there."

Stiller, De Niro and fellow castmates Blythe Danner and Teri Polo reunited along with director Jay Roach on TODAY, as the hit comedy celebrates its 20th anniversary.

Stiller can still remember his first scene with De Niro, who plays every suitor's worst nightmare as Focker's potential father-in-law.

"I remember the first day that we shot together," Stiller said. "I think it was the scene where we meet for the first time at the doorstep. I said something like, 'Oh, this is a nice house' or something, and I kind of looked up at the house, and Bob saw me look up and he like looked behind him like 'What am I looking at?'

"And he reacted, and I cracked up in his face. Just started laughing. And then started sweating because I'm like, 'I can't believe I'm breaking character on the first scene, the first line. He's going to think I'm the worst.' But then there was a moment where he smiled and I then felt, 'OK, it's alright.' But from then on, I never felt any more comfortable actually."

De Niro shared his memory as his fellow castmates cracked up about Stiller's jitters around him.

"Ben was great," De Niro said. "He has a way of reacting with a deadpan expression or whatever."

The stars and director of "Meet the Parents" reminisced about some of the movie's classic lines and scenes, like the one where Stiller's character demonstrates "milking" a cat.

"That was my only contribution in that scene," Danner said about Stiller's hilarious demonstration. "I remember, because my grandfather had a milk business. And I said, 'Oh Ben, the only thing I'm going to speak up about. I said, you really have to milk it like that.'"

"I feel like that was very authentic," Stiller joked.

Roach remembered the reaction shots of the cast during Focker's disastrous prayer at the dinner table, while Hoda couldn't forget the scene where De Niro earnestly reads a ridiculous poem he wrote about his late mother at the dinner table.

"I knew that it had to be done with a sincerity, of course, because that would make it funnier if we could did it the right, sincere way," De Niro said.

Another classic scene came when Stiller drops a lit cigarette, accidentally starting a fire that torches the lawn and the wedding altar.

"All I remember from that sequence, Jay, was that I don't smoke in life and I had to smoke these cigarettes, and I remember getting so sick smoking the cigarettes," Stiller said. "And also as I watched the movie, I'm such a bad movie smoker. There's cool movie smokers. I'm the worst."

The cast also remembered their animal co-star, Jinx the cat, who is De Niro's beloved pet in the movie.

"They actually had a couple of different cats that we used, and what was funny is that one of them afterwards was adoptable, and my mother ended up adopting one of the Jinxs," Polo said.

"Bob was close to that cat, though," Roach said. "He actually asked about it at the end, what was going to happen to it. I always thought he was going to be the one to adopt it."

The cast came together for a pair of sequels, "Meet the Fockers" in 2004 and "Little Fockers" in 2010. Hoda asked if they have thought about doing one more.

"I'm game," De Niro said. "There was some talk about it. I think it would be great."

"I'm always open to opportunity to work with these people," Stiller said.

"I'm just riding the coattails, so whatever they say," Polo said.

Hoda said she might have an idea based around political differences.

"I'll get it to you," she told the cast.

"Red-and-Blue Fockers" coming soon!