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Ben Stiller, Rebel Wilson, Ricky Gervais, Dan Stevens, Owen Wilson and Shawn Levy Come Alive with th

Updated: Apr 16, 2020

Ben Stiller at the New York press day for "Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb."  Photo copyright 2014 Brad Balfour.

Ben Stiller at the New York press day for “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb.” Photo copyright 2014 Brad Balfour.

Ben Stiller, Rebel Wilson, Ricky Gervais, Dan Stevens, Owen Wilson and Shawn Levy

Director & Cast Come Alive with the Third Edition of Night at The Museum

by Brad Balfour

In the latest, most adventure-filled Night At the Museum edition (which hit theaters near the year’s end), security guard Larry Daley travels from New York to England – with animated crew in tow – to save the mystical artifact that animates these characters and several new ones. He embarks on an epic quest to save the magic before it is gone forever  so he has to unite the Egyptian Prince – who is in NYC – with his father the Pharaoh in the British Museum.

Though it sometimes goes beyond silly, verging on the ridiculous at times, these films have really funny moments. This edition – Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb – is no exception. If the Night at the Museum trilogy’s silly concept – a mystical force animates New York’s American Museum of Natural History’s displays after its closing hours – gets more kids to come to this great museum, then it deserves all the support it’s gotten.

As Daley (and his alter ego, the Neanderthal Laaa) Ben Stiller leads the ensemble through various twists and turns which take them from the New York Museum to the British Museum in London. And what a cast! Besides Stiller, it includes Robin Williams, Owen Wilson, Dan Stevens, Ben Kingsley, Steve Coogan, Ricky Gervais, and Rebel Wilson.

The successful series – based on the children’s book by Milan Trenc – transforms Manhattan’s Museum of Natural History into a nightly party for various diorama inhabitants, Neanderthals, dinosaurs, a Capuchin monkey named Dexter (played by a girl monkey named Crystal), a wax Theodore Roosevelt (Williams), and tiny cowboy Jedediah (Wilson) and Roman Centurion Octavius (Coogan).

When the story shifts to the London location, it adds British security guard Tilly (Rebel Wilson), errant knight Sir Lancelot (Stevens). Another denizen of the museum is Egyptian Pharaoh Merenkahre (Kingsley), who reconnects with the animated mummy of his son Ahkmenrah (Rami Malek). The effects are state-of-the-art and add a lot to the film’s overall impact.

This latest chapter is also endowed with a certain poignancy, because it offers the late Williams’ final screen appearance. Also, that of 93 year-old Mickey Rooney, who appears here in a cameo and died shortly after.

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb ends a franchise that began in 2006 and had a 2009 sequel (Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian). All three were helmed by director Shawn Levy, who has had quite a string of family oriented comic hits including Cheaper By The Dozen, The Pink Panther and Date Night.

Not only have the films celebrated the museum, it has spawned a trend there. In honor of the film, the museum has scheduled sleepovers occasionally for the kids and their parents.

In town to promote the film were cast members Stiller, both Wilsons, Gervais, Stevens (very slim and different looking from his Downton Abbey character) and director Levy. The following Q&A comes from a press conference held at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel just before the film’s New York opening.


When you did the first Night at the Museum eight years ago, did you have any idea that the series would be so popular? Why do you think it is so popular with adults and children?

Shawn Levy: I don’t think you can ever go into making a movie and presume that it would ever be this popular. It’s some kind of fantasy that something you create will be embraced to this extent. So, no. We knew we had a really great idea at the core of this, but the way that it was embraced worldwide and to this extent was this incredibly fantastic surprise. As for why, I don’t know. Ben, what do you think?

Ben Stiller: I have no idea. You never know. You make movies. You do your best and you hope they connect. Every time you go out, you hope something’s going to connect. You have an idea of why you think it might connect. I thought when I read the movie, this is an idea I would love to see. Something that made me feel connected with my childhood and fantasies I had as a kid, of things coming to life. So it’s nice that that thought process actually connected with the rest of the world. It doesn’t always happen.

This third film in a way, comes full circle, with a father and son story at the heart of it.

Shawn Levy: That was a conscious decision. I remember years ago – it has been five years since our last movie – Ben and I talked and discussed wanting to centralize this father and son story. It grounds all the zany activity in something relatable. That was a very conscious decision to place that back at the heart of the story.


As for Rebel and Dan, you’re newcomers to the family here. What was it like jumping into the rhythm of this team that’s been doing this for quite a while?

Rebel Wilson: It was good once the hazing was over. That was quite brutal. Especially Ben. He just has a lot of weapons. No, I’m just kidding. I was a little bit intimidated to come in to such an amazing ensemble of actors. I was pretty scared before I had to do my first scene with you.

Ben Stiller: Really? I couldn’t tell.

Rebel Wilson: I tried to be super confident and be like, “Hey Ben…” But like really inside, I was like, “Oh, my God.”

Ben Stiller: I was actually amazed at how confident and self-assured you were on the set, not knowing you. Walking into that situation, taking it upon yourself to try things and feeling free to throw stuff out there. You seem to really have no problem with that.

Rebel Wilson: Even though it was like, below zero degrees, I just had no problem improvising for very long amounts of time.


And how about you, Dan?

Dan Stevens: It was obviously a little daunting stepping out there. But it’s also a wonderful thing to have two movies ahead of you. So, even if Lancelot didn’t know what world he was stepping into, I kind of did. I loved the first two movies, so I knew what world I was thrown into.

Ben, your doppelgänger – the Caveman Laaa – is hilarious.

Rebel Wilson: And sexy.

Very sexy! That’s a ringing endorsement… How long did it take you to get made up and do scenes with yourself?

Ricky Gervais: He’s made up now. He’s like that naturally! This is him. He’s been waiting to do that for ages. He just does that.

Ben Stiller: It was three hours the first time. It was fun, because there’s a freedom there. I loved the cavemen from the first two movies. It was fun to bond with them and hang out. Just learn from them a little bit.

Ricky Gervais: Who’s the guy without the teeth?

Ben Stiller: Jody!

Ricky Gervais: He’s amazing! He’s always in character! I just love how we were watching him jump around and we were going, “You’re amazing!” and he went, “I’m 48.” [Laughs]

Ben Stiller: That’s the funny thing. We all aged as actors, but the creatures are supposed to not age, so everybody gets frozen in time.

Rebel Wilson: If you look closely at Sacagawea [Mizuo Peck], you might notice a diff… No! She looks great.

Ben Stiller: It was great to have a chance to jump into that. Figure the scenes out. It’s a weird thing, where you have to figure out which character is doing more of the action in the scene. Then you do that character first. But Shawn is an actor too. I don’t know if you guys are aware that Shawn is an actor…

Shawn Levy: There is a reason why I switched to directing in my early 20s.

Ben Stiller: It’s the reason why YouTube is so much fun.


Ricky Gervais: Tell me the credits!

Shawn Levy: Zombie Nightmare.

Ricky Gervais: And what was it, Beverly Hills

Shawn Levy: Beverly Hills 90210