Ben Stiller Makes Big Return In New Series Playing Three Different People

Ben Stiller is in final talks to play real-life identical triplets in a limited series adaption of the 2018 documentary Three Identical Strangers.

By Nathan Kamal | Published

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Three Identical Strangers

Ben Stiller is closing in on a deal to play the lead role in an adaption of the 2018 documentary Three Identical Strangers, in which he will play each member of identical triplets who were separated at birth. Per a report in Variety, the There’s Something About Mary star would be playing Bobby Shafran, David Kellman, and Eddy Galland, three brothers who were unaware they were triplets until encountering each other late in life. The project will be produced by Sony Pictures Television, SK Global, and TriStar Television, though it is unclear whether it will air on a traditional network like HBO or a streaming platform like Netflix.

Three Identical Strangers examines the case of the three identical brothers, who first became aware of each other at age 19 in 1980, and quickly became media sensations. The triplets appeared on talk shows like the Phil Donahue Show and in the Madonna/Rosanna Arquette film Desperately Seeking Susan, and eventually opened a restaurant together. 

In a bizarre, stranger-than-life twist, it was eventually uncovered that the triplets who may be played as adults by Ben Stiller had been deliberately separated in a psychiatric experiment and had been monitored their entire lives, though their respective adoptive parents were kept in the dark about the actual nature of the evaluations. Reportedly, the intent was to study “nature vs. nurture” by placing identical triplets in differing socio-economic circumstances and studying their development.

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Zoolander 2

Although Ben Stiller is known more for comedies like Zoolander and the Meet the Parents and Night at the Museum franchises, he has worked in the dramatic fields many times. The adaption of Three Identical Strangers is intended to be a limited series and will likely include both comedic and dramatic elements, though it is difficult to say exactly how balanced that might be (particularly with the darker turns in the brothers’ story). The series will be written by Amy Lippman, who is best known for co-creating the classic television drama Party of Five (starring a young Jennifer Love Hewitt) and its recent reboot.

Ben Stiller first came to fame on television, starring in the critically acclaimed, shortlived sketch comedy series The Ben Stiller Show, which only lasted for 13 episodes but managed to be broadcast across MTV, FOX, and Comedy Central. The series was also notable for featuring Andy Dick, Janeane Garofalo, and Bob Odenkirk.

Since then, Ben Stiller has become a notable comedic leading man in Hollywood and a respected director of films like the Gen X classic Reality Bites (featuring Winona Ryder, Ethan Hawke, and Stiller himself, interestingly playing media sensation twin brothers), the Jim Carrey cult classic The Cable Guy, and the ensemble comedy Tropic Thunder. This would be Ben Stiller’s first television appearance since a cameo in 2020 on Sarah Cooper: Everything’s Fine and his first starring role of any kind since 2017’s The Meyerowitz Stories, which also starred Adam Sandler. Currently, Ben Stiller is an executive producer and director of the acclaimed science fiction series Severance.