W Magazine Videos

Ben Stiller Had a Crush on Brooke Shields and Learned Magic From Slydini

In this Screen Tests interview, Ben Stiller (Brad's Status, The Meyerowitz Stories) tells the "cringy" story about his first audition (when he repeatedly mispronounced 'bris'), his crush on Brooke Shields, taking magic lessons from The Great Tony Slydini, his '70s pets, his futuristic-sounding porn name, and his first kiss at summer camp.

Released on 1/11/2018

Credits

Starring: Ben Stiller

Transcript

00:00
I'll tell you the cringy audition story I have
00:03
is I had to do a monologue.
00:04
It was some off Broadway play,
00:06
and I was probably about 14,
00:07
and it's a kid talking about,
00:09
something about his bris, the Jewish
00:12
tradition of child having the tip
00:14
of their penis snipped off.
00:15
And I went in to this audition,
00:17
and you know, being the nice Jewish kid that I was,
00:20
I did not know what a bris was,
00:22
and I decided to pronounce it brie bris as brie.
00:27
So I did the whole monologue about my bris
00:29
or liking talking about this bris,
00:30
it was like a drama, and then at the end,
00:31
the guy said thank you very much,
00:32
and it's pronounced bris.
00:35
I did not get the part.
00:38
Brooke Shields, I was convinced we were gonna get married.
00:41
I was in New York, she was in New York.
00:42
We were around the same age.
00:43
And we knew people who knew each other,
00:46
and eventually I did meet her.
00:48
My friend's mother knew her mother
00:50
and we did not get married, but we're friends
00:52
and friendly, unless she sees this,
00:54
she will not be aware of it.
00:56
I took magic lessons when I was a kid.
00:58
I was really into magic.
01:00
I was not very good at it.
01:01
I didn't practice enough.
01:02
I don't think I have the natural ability either,
01:03
but there was a place called
01:05
Lou Taninns Magic Shop in New York
01:07
which is where all the magicians went.
01:08
It was on the eighth floor.
01:09
I think it was in the Brill building.
01:10
All the magicians would demonstrate the tricks
01:12
for you there, and then you take them home
01:14
and not be able to do them 'cause they were magicians.
01:16
But then I took lessons with this
01:18
guy named the Great Slydini.
01:20
He is a very famous close up magician.
01:21
He lived somewhere in Hells Kitchen,
01:23
and I would go to his apartment,
01:24
and whenever I tell anybody who knows
01:26
magic that I took lessons with Slydini,
01:28
they're like Oh my God!
01:29
I was like 10 years old and,
01:31
and he had this very famous routine where
01:33
he would take an audience member up on stage,
01:35
sit them down and he would take
01:37
a box of Kleenex and crumble the
01:39
Kleenex up and make it disappear in front of them.
01:41
But if you were watching from the stage,
01:42
what you saw was that he was flipping
01:44
the Kleenex over their head,
01:45
but they couldn't see it because of their,
01:47
you know their vision.
01:48
And so I would be practicing this,
01:49
flipping the Kleenex on my sister thing all the time,
01:52
and I'd just end up you know, just
01:53
flipping it in her face, and she would
01:55
just get mad and say why are you doing that
01:57
stupid thing where you throw Kleenex at me.
01:59
I had these two turtles named Tony and Tonya.
02:02
I also had two white mice named John and Paul.
02:05
A parakeet named Princess.
02:09
We had a lot of like, you know, seventies
02:11
creatures in the apartment.
02:13
[Producer] So what would your porno name be?
02:14
It's the first pet name plus the street you grew up on.
02:17
Oh wow, Tony 84.
02:20
(laughter)
02:22
At Hidden Valley Camp in Freedom Maine
02:24
when I was 12 with Jennifer Zelnick.
02:26
It was great.
02:27
It was under a tree.
02:28
It was very romantic and cool and kind of like charged
02:32
which most first kisses I would imagine are.
02:34
I was at camp, and I was kind of homesick.
02:37
I actually remember my father had come up
02:38
to the camp and spent like,
02:40
'cause he was a great dad, I was saying I wanted to go.
02:43
He came up and hung out with me,
02:44
and then I met the girl, and then,
02:47
like Dad, get out of here, get out of here.
02:50
It was sort of an artsy camp.
02:51
I did a show, there was a musical about
02:53
the birth of America and I sang a song
02:57
called America Has Promises.
02:59
I will not sing it for you.
03:01
I'm not a singer.
03:02
But one line was like
03:03
♪America has promises ♪
03:06
And it does, that's the thing.
03:08
It's still relative today, that show.
03:10
I'm Ben Stiller, and I'm now going
03:12
to make an elephant.
03:13
This is what I'm going to create.
03:14
This is why my work with the Great Slydini
03:16
is now gonna pay off.
03:18
This is like one of those sort of tests
03:20
they give kids to see what grade
03:22
they should be put into or whether or not they're special.
03:25
And I think I'm failing.
03:27
There, yeah.
03:28
[Producer] Just don't flatten him.
03:29
All right, thank you.
03:30
(applause)
03:32
Thank you.