Yet, the comic star of this week's The Heartbreak Kid has quietly / not-so quietly amassed a whopping $1.38 billion in world-wide receipts, with an endless string of box office hits.
I say 'quietly' because Stiller doesn't carry himself like a movie star. You never hear about him in the tabloids. He's not the most photographed celeb. He's simply just a 'funny guy' - someone everyone knows who has a wicked sense of humor.
'Not-so-quiet' have been his performances, which always leave a distinct (i.e. loud) impression. The actor can play a role absurdly ridiculous, a la his mustachioed White Goodman in Dodgeball, or extremely normal and put-upon, as in the terrorized boyfriend in Meet the Parents.
Other memorable, absurd moments: Stiller in full-on fashion model parody mode (replete with faux crazy accent) in Zoolander, and Stiller as an undercover cop imitating macho (commanding all to "DO IT") in Starsky and Hutch.
In the put-upon column (where he's been most popularly received), we have Stiller with his 'parts' stuck in a zipper in There's Something About Mary, and Stiller being smacked in the face by an electric train in Night at the Museum.
Through it all, whether playing crazy, or getting thrown into craziness, no one comes across as more ridiculous, relatable, everyday and UN-Hollywood than Ben Stiller. He's comedy's modern era Jimmy Stewart. Or at least its Dustin Hoffman.
Here's a salute, then, to his latest project, as the actor-comedian goes on what looks to be a very funny and painful honeymoon from hell. We'll be happy again that he's volunteered to be the butt of the joke - so we won't have to.
Need a reminder of why you love Ben Stiller, too? Watch this Video Playlist.