Rock, Stiller come to Cannes with 'Madagascar'
Actors Chris Rock, left, and Ben Stiller pose for photographs following an interview with The Associated Press for Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted at the 65th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Thursday, May 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Joel Ryan)
CANNES, France (AP) — It's taken an animated trilogy about a gang of zoo animals to bring Ben Stiller and Chris Rock together.
Two of the most influential comedians over the last two decades, they have seemingly always orbited in the same world — both New York performers about the same age — but have hardly ever collaborated.
"We cross paths," Rock says of their roles in "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted." "We're cowboys. We see each other at the saloon."
Speaking from Cannes, where the two New Yorkers are promoting the latest installment in the popular DreamWorks Animation franchise, Stiller says: "We've each been doing our own things, but after a while, you have that sort of shared history, which you really value."
On leaving school, Rock pursued stand-up, while Stiller started in sketches and directing.
Rock, 47, and Stiller, 46, both married around the same time and have kids about the same age. They each had a stint on "Saturday Night Live," tried Broadway last year and now live in the suburbs of New York.
Actors Chris Rock, right, and Ben Stiller pose for photographs following an interview with The Associated Press for Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted at the 65th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Thursday, May 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Joel Ryan)
They nearly collaborated in the early 1990s, when Stiller was briefly attached to direct "CB4," a 1993 rap group parody that Rock starred in and co-wrote.
"It was a long time ago," says Stiller.
In "Madagascar 3," which opens June 8, the two return to voice their now familiar characters — Stiller as Alex the lion, Rock as Marty the zebra — each Central Park Zoo performers who travel from Africa to Europe and join a traveling circus.
Earlier this year, Rock said at the Oscars' ceremony that voiceover work is comically easy: "UPS is hard work. Stripping wood is hard work," he said, grinning broadly. Whereas voiceover acting, he continued, is saying few lines in a sound booth, "And then they give me a million dollars!"
"You must have known you were going to have the press for 'Madagascar 3' after that," Stiller asks his co-star.
"I don't think that far ahead!" Rock replies. "There's a task at hand: Get some laughs at the Oscars."