“But I like the crazy scary storm—it sells the shark even more.To me, it’s always been against the grain to do this in a tank in New York”—where much of the film would be shot, from April through July, before a final month in Iceland. He often peers down at his own obsessiveness and finds it absurd.There’s a scene in “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” a script that Stiller had developed to direct and star in, in which Walter, carrying vital radio parts for a fishing trawler cruising off Greenland, leaps from a helicopter into the stormy waters near the ship. As Walter desperately treads water, the ship’s captain offers some contemplative advice: It’s a shark, naturally, and Walter must pummel it with his bare hands.
Stiller cued up an episode of “The Deadliest Catch” on a flat-screen TV and paused the action on some hellacious waves from an Arctic storm.
His production designer and friend, Jeff Mann, is the loquacious Penn to Stiller’s gnomic Teller; eying the mountain of water, he deadpanned, “Those are some important motherfucking radio parts.”“I’m not saying big,” Stiller said.
Jeff Mann said, “Ben’s always going to say, ‘Let’s find the best, most expensive examples that anyone has ever done, and use them as a template.’ It’s like, dude, this is a moment, in a comedy—it doesn’t have to be the stormiest storm ever.” But Stiller wanted “Mitty” to be much more than a standard studio comedy; he hoped to make a film so original that it would transform his image.
Like Mitty, he dreamed of being someone different.“Well, less vapor than this,” Stiller told Williams.
This vibe: sunset, storm, God-rays of light from the sky?