One of the highlights of the late Jerry Stiller's more than 50-year career was his role as Frank Costanza on "Seinfeld." In an interview with The New Yorker, actor Ben Stiller spoke about the show's impact on his father's life.
"I think 'Seinfeld' really changed his life, because he was at a point in his career where the phone wasn't really ringing," the "Zoolander" star explained. "So for someone who's thrived on work and thrived on being funny and having an interaction with an audience, it really changed everything for him."
Stiller, 54, explained that his dad "loved working with those actors, and he would prepare like he was doing Shakespeare. He would break it down...'Why am I saying this? What's the motivation for this character?' So it came out of him putting everything into it, and not trying to be funny."
Stiller recalled a conversation he had with his rabbi at his father's memorial service, in which he spoke about the late comic's hot-tempered "Seinfeld" character, Frank Costanza.
"I said, 'He never once raised his voice to me, ever, as a kid. Ever.' So I watch that and I laugh, because I'm, like, 'Who is that person?' Because that really was not him, but I think he was unleashing something that I think was suppressed... it's really like this sort of volcano coming out."
Stiller's father died on May 11 at the age of 92, and the actor said he and his sister remained close to him until the end.
"Due to the fact that he didn't have a coronavirus-related illness, we were able to be with him, which I'm very, very grateful for," he said. "But he went peacefully, and he had a sense of humor, for sure, until the end. He was just funny, and so he was always himself. He was almost 93, and I think his body was kind of at that point where it was time."