Ben Stiller Thought No One Would Notice That He Stole His ‘Dodgeball’ Villain From This Children’s Movie
Everybody loves Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, the cult classic that still totally holds up today, so long as you fast forward through the section at the end when Lance Armstrong shows up to give an inspirational speech about the power of not giving up in the face of adversity (thankfully the movie doesn’t end with Vince Vaughan’s character climactically injecting human growth hormone into his butt).
In addition to Rip Torn violently hurling wrenches at Justin Long, one of the funniest parts of Dodgeball is Ben Stiller’s performance as White Goodman, the villainous head of Globo Gym, a ritzy fitness center that even has its own on-site plastic surgeon.
Over the years, a number of people have pointed out the undeniable similarities between Goodman and a character from a movie that came out nearly a decade earlier.
Remember 1995’s Heavyweights, the (likely extremely-dated) Disney movie about a “fat camp” that gets taken over by a maniacal celebrity fitness guru? The film was co-written by Judd Apatow and features his longtime collaborator Stiller as Tony Perkis Jr., the cartoonishly evil rich-guy gym rat who routinely terrorizes the campers. That is before these emotionally-abused children imprison and torture him. Did we mention that this was a Disney movie for families?
Stiller’s fat-shaming antagonists even sound the same, leading some fans to theorize that Tony and White Goodman may be the same person, further speculating that he could have changed his name and overhauled his life following the disastrous events at the camp. In other words, Heavyweights and Dodgeball therefore exist in the same cinematic universe, kind of like the MCU, but instead of a bunch of cool superheroes, it’s just this one jerk.
Stiller was once asked about the similarities between the two characters in an interview with IGN. He admitted that Tony is “definitely a first or second cousin” to White, adding that the performance was also informed by his impression of infomercial magnate Tony Robbins, which dates back to a sketch on The Ben Stiller Show. And, in retrospect, by using Robbins as the inspiration for a lecherous creep character, Stiller was arguably ahead of his time.
In addition, Stiller copped to the fact that he basically just copied and pasted his old Disney villain character for Dodgeball, after thinking to himself: “Well, nobody ever saw Heavyweights, so I can do this.”
But Stiller was wrong. He later found out that Heavyweights actually has a substantial cult following. “A lot of people saw Heavyweights, apparently,” he marveled. “It shows on the Disney Channel a lot or something.” But if Stiller wants to secretly recycle any of his characters from Tower Heist, Duplex or The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, we’re guessing that nobody will ever notice or bother to concoct any elaborate fan theories.
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