It’s a classic scene, fueled by a legendary artist: In 2001’s “Zoolander,” male models Derek Zoolander and Hansel decide to settle their differences on the runway — but who would be the judge? As David Bowie stands up, rips off his sunglasses and volunteers for the job, a new question enters the mind of the viewer: Who could ever be more perfect for the job?
When Bowie died earlier this year, plenty of famous people expressed their grief over an artist who inspired so many of them. But now Ben Stiller — a man who has worked alongside everyone from Robert DeNiro to Robert Downey Jr. — is calling that particular scene “a high point in my career.”
“I’m still shocked that Bowie agreed to do it,” says Stiller, who wrote, directed and starred in “Zoolander,” as well as the sequel that opens Feb. 12. “It was the best cameo ever for us. He was incredibly gracious and kind to everybody and he completely got it, as you can imagine.”
Speaking at the “Zoolander No. 2” UK premiere, Stiller tells Female First that he was “devastated” when he heard Bowie had died at 69 of cancer. “He was a huge influence on so many people,” the comedian marvels. “I think on our culture, in the last 40 or 50 years, when you go back and look at how long he was making music, David was so ahead of the curve.”
Unfortunately, Bowie didn’t film a cameo for “Zoolander No. 2.” But the film certainly isn’t lacking in star wattage, with cameos from the likes of Justin Bieber, Kanye and Kim Kardashian West, and Ariana Grande.
With his credentials in the worlds of music, film and fashion, Bowie undoubtedly knew that “Zoolander” was the perfect opportunity to take a well-deserved bow. Appropriately enough, he was doing it under the tutelage of a longtime fan.
“Like everyone else, [I was] influenced by him,” says Stiller. “[That ‘Zoolander’ cameo] was really a high point in my career, that he came down to spend time with us. Bowie is sadly missed, it is just terrible news.”