Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy team up in ‘Tower Heist’

Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy are co-conspirators in “Tower Heist.”

It’s hard to believe that two of the most prominent figures in modern comedy — Eddie Murphy, 50, and Ben Stiller, 45 — have never crossed paths before their most recent release, the comedy-caper film “Tower Heist.” But not surprisingly, the two were anxious to work together for this movie, which was largely improvised.

“The comedy comes out of the characters so for me, I wasn’t looking to see how funny I could be,” Stiller says. “And then of course when you have Eddie Murphy in the movie, it takes a lot of the pressure off. I was really happy he was in the film. I never look to be funnier because that just doesn’t work.”

Stiller pauses in front of a packed room of journalists to mock himself with an imaginary headline. “Stiller: Not looking to be funnier. Maybe he should,” he says.

Murphy conceived of the original idea for “Tower Heist” many years ago, though it’s since been given a very timely twist. It centers around a Bernie Madoff-like businessman (played by Alan Alda) who swindles his employees out of their pensions. Angered by the fraud, some rogue vigilantes out of the group devise a plan to steal the money back. Given that the Occupy movement persists in many cities in the U.S. and elsewhere, Stiller noted the connection between the film and the headlines.

“I think there’s a lot of frustration out there that’s valid and that’s probably what the Occupy Wall Street is an expression of,” he says. “There’s a lot of frustration in terms of where we’re at in this economic situation and so I understand where it’s coming from.”

But don’t get them wrong. “Tower Heist” is no grim exploration of dire economic times. With the ensemble cast that includes Casey Affleck, Matthew Broderick, Michael Pena and Gabourey Sidibe, there were many spontaneously hilarious moments in the film. Murphy remembers — or perhaps fabricates? — filming a scene in which his character flirts with Sidibe’s.

“[Director Brett Ratner] whispered ‘dim the lights!’ And then, all of a sudden, Gabourey’s top is off,” he says. “And then it became a whole different type of scene. Ben was completely nude, just watching. I’m saying, ‘what’s happening?’ [Producer Brian Grazer] is like, ‘just go with it.’ We go with it for about 40 minutes. I’ve never been in a scene like that. You’ll have to get the DVD. We had to cut it out in order to get the PG-13 rating.”

Filming in New York City

Since this film centers around a prominent Central Park building, Stiller commented on the most noticeable contrasts between L.A. and New York.

“I think what you notice when you’re in L.A. is that you don’t have to deal with the elements. Jerry Seinfeld said to me recently, ‘I like living in New York because it’s harder.’ He likes that. He likes that you have to deal with the winter and life is a little bit tougher. It’s more in-your-face. I think that’s something that shapes who New Yorkers are. There’s a lot of people in one place and I think that’s a really good thing, too — where people have to interact with each other on a daily basis”


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

DA: Homeless man severely beat by men in…

Two former college football players pleaded not guilty to the alleged severe beating of a homeless man in Allston earlier this year.

National

Hamas, Abbas's PLO announce reconciliation agreement

The Gaza-based Islamist group Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas's Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) agreed on Wednesday to a unity pact.

Local

Reports: Dead man pulled from water at Boston's…

A dead man was reportedly pulled from the water at Boston's Long Wharf Wednesday afternoon, according to the Boston Fire Department.

Local

Primark to make US debut in Boston

Dublin retailer Primark will make its U.S. debut with a store at the former Filene's site in Boston.

Going Out

Thursty: Revamped Audubon is back in action

Having been a long time fan of Trina's Starlite Lounge in Inman Square, one of my only complaints about the place is that there's only…

Entertainment

Here's what to do in Boston this weekend

MUSIC Huun Huur Tu Friday, 8 p.m. First Church in Cambridge 11 Garden St., Cambridge $28, 617-876-4275 www.worldmusic.org This group comes from the tiny nation…

Television

TV watch list, Wednesday, April 23: 'Suburgatory,' 'Modern…

'Suburgatory' The men of "Suburgatory" go camping and Tessa mentors a social outcast in a Miss Chatswin contest, which brings her, once again, into conflict…

The Word

The best lines from Oprah's ex-stepmother's Daily Mail…

Oprah’s ex-stepmother, Barbara Winfrey, is out for revenge.

NHL

Bruins - Red Wings Game 4 preview: Boston…

Bruins - Red Wings Game 4 preview: Boston greedy for more dominance

MLB

Fantasy baseball: Searching for early season prospects

It’s relatively rare for a mediocre 30-year-old hitter to suddenly go nuts offensively for 162 games. That’s why minor league prospects are so exciting.

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC 'targeting' US international Mix Diskerud

Metro New York has learned Mix Diskerud has drawn “interest” from the expansion MLS side, NYCFC.

MLB

Statistics show plate approach for Red Sox has…

Statistics show plate approach for Red Sox has been off so far in 2014

Style

Pippa Middleton's Etsy pick: Golden Thread Jewelry

Get a look at the jewelry Pippa Middleton loves and find out how you can buy it too.

Parenting

What every parent needs to know to get…

Mom and author of "Small Talk," Tracey Blake, shares her five practical tips to help you develop your children's language skills.

Sex

Subway crush: Meet your soulmate on your commute

Read about a couple who has been 40 years after meeting on the train.

Tech

Happy birthday, Game Boy! The handheld console turns…

Nintendo's Game Boy turns 25 this week. To commemorate, we look at some of its better games, like "Tetris" and "The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening."