In Tower Heist, two comedians come together and steal the hearts and minds of the audience -- Eddie Murphy and Ben Stiller. Stiller is the manager of a luxury apartment building in New York City who is clearly the best at his job. What he doesn’t see coming is what sends the storyline of Tower Heist into full gear: One of the building's residents, Alan Alda’s Wall Street financier, has milked all his clients -- including the building’s workers -- out of hundreds of millions of dollars. Stiller enlists the help of Murphy’s ex-con to orchestrate a robbery of the $20 million of Alda’s money that the Feds cannot find that they believe is hidden in the Wall Street crook’s penthouse apartment.
Stiller assembles a team to be led and mentored by Murphy that includes building workers Casey Affleck, Michael Pena, Gabrielle Sidibe and Matthew Broderick’s former building resident who is penniless from the Wall Street collapse. Together they seek to “storm the castle,” in Stiller’s words, and take Alda’s money and return it to the building’s workers who lost everything.
Murphy and Stiller, two comedy titans, sat down recently to discuss the finer points of Tower Heist, their director Brett Ratner and what each enjoyed most about working with the other.
Movie Fanatic: Was the film as much fun to make as it is for us to watch you two together?
Ben Stiller: Yeah, I got a real kick working with Eddie. It’s always good to be excited about who you’re working with, somebody who you are a fan of -- going to work with them is thrilling. Eddie’s movies, he’s done so many iconic films, as anybody who is in comedy, has a real respect for what he’s done. Especially, if you do movies, you understand what that is and how challenging that can be. I love Eddie Murphy.
Eddie Murphy: [Nodding and smiling in approval] I had a lot of fun working with him. He’s funny. We had a nice little flow.
Movie Fanatic: Was it challenging shooting during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for Tower Heist? That’s a lot to deal with.
Ben Stiller: That’s what Brett is really good at -- putting together big movie moments. His combination of real stuff and visual effects -- they recreated part of the parade -- it’s really a big movie feel shooting that. It was really fun.
Movie Fanatic: How does the comedy and the heist aspect of Tower Heist, in your opinion, work so well?
Eddie Murphy: I think the reason audiences go along for the ride is it’s regular people. Usually in a heist movie, you get people who are an expert at something during a heist. These are regular working-class people, so it’s more of a Robin Hood type of thing. That always resonates.
Ben Stiller: As an audience, it’s always fun for someone to see people get away with something. If you’re rooting for them at all, just to see them actually get away with it. Because they’re regular people, it’s nice for audiences to see them figure out something that maybe you didn’t figure out yourself. That’s one of the fun things in a heist movie is to see how they’re going to actually come up with something you couldn’t have thought of. That’s what I enjoy seeing. Even when the bad guy comes up with something you didn’t see coming and you’re left wondering: How are they going to get around that -- the obstacle? The fun thing about this movie is there are a lot of obstacles and it goes off plan. That is something that happens in heist movies, but how it goes off plan and how it tops itself is pretty unexpected in Tower Heist. That was a really important part of the movie, the idea that it had to be funny, you had to like the characters, and believe the characters. But ultimately the heist itself had to be something that you hadn’t seen before. So, this idea of where we go with the car, and I’m not going to give anything away, you haven’t seen that happen before in a movie.