The third film in the Ben Stiller-starring "Night at the Museum" series, "the Secret of the Tomb," has been billed as its final installment. But given the success of the family friendly franchise, isn't it a bit hasty to just call it like that? "I don't know. I mean, I'm pretty sure it is [the end] for me," Stiller says. "And that was one of the things going into it, by allowing it to be that, it allowed us to tell this story, which I think is my character sort of saying goodbye."
Of course, Stiller is savvy enough to know never to say never in Hollywood. "You never know these days with reboots and number fours," he jokes. "Maybe Edward Norton will show up in the next one. As the Hulk or something. It's one of those things where, I don't know, I won't say never, but it felt to me like that's what made sense to me at this time."
For the new installment, Stiller and crew went to London's British Museum for filming, which was a treat in and of itself. "They had to be OK with what we were doing there because they'd never let anyone film there before," he says. "We didn't go to any special rooms or anything like that, but the Hall of Enlightenment there is pretty amazing. We basically got to spend a few nights there. The Rosetta Stone for me was the big thing that I was impressed with. That was our start mark — like, 'OK, let's go again, take two, back to the Rosetta Stone.' I even tweeted out a picture of me and Robin [Williams] standing next to it. Just the coolest thing ever."
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And maybe this really is the end of the franchise, because Stiller has already taken home a keepsake. "I took the tablet home when we wrapped the movie. So I'm keeping my fingers crossed that something might happen," he says of the enchanted prop. "We'll see what happens, if anything comes to life in my house at night. I'm going to keep it in our little guest house. I have another cool memento from a movie, which are Tom Cruise's arms from 'Tropic Thunder,' the Les Grossman arms? They're super-cool, these crazy, hairy arms with a crushed Diet Coke can in them. So maybe, who knows, the tablet might bring the arms to life at night."
Speaking of sequels, has Stiller ever entertained the idea of revisiting the world of "Reality Bites," his first film as a director which recently turned 20 years old? Well, not exactly. "We actually talked about possibly doing a TV series, but we didn't end up doing it," Stiller reveals. "I think it's probably for the best that we didn't do it, but it was an interesting idea to revisit it. I don't know if I would do a sequel to it. It would be kind of weird."
Maybe it's doing the third — and possibly last — entry in a family movie franchise, maybe it's the 20th anniversary of "Reality Bites," but Ben Stiller has been feeling the nostalgia lately. "As you get older, I feel there's more nostalgia for things you remember from your childhood, and it becomes more meaningful when you find a picture of an old toy," he says. "I was talking to some friends today about skateboarding, and I found online the skateboard that I had when I was 12 years old. I never hung onto it. I found one online that was the same kind, and so I asked my wife if she would get for me as a Christmas present." Problem solved.
Follow Ned Ehrbar on Twitter: @nedrick