Ben Stiller criticised for his remarks on nepotism in Hollywood while defending The Rightway cast

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File image: Ben Stiller at the 71st Emmy Awards (Getty Images)
File image: Ben Stiller at the 71st Emmy Awards (Getty Images)

Ben Stiller is facing backlash for his comments on nepotism in Hollywood.

On Wednesday, Deadline reported that Sean Penn’s son Hopper Penn, and Brian D’Arcy James have signed on to star in new film The Rightway directed by Destry Spielberg and Owen King.

Soon after the announcement, a Twitter account named @DiscussingFilm highlighted that most of the people involved in this project have at least one famous parent.

Spielberg is the daughter of American film director Steven Spielberg, King is the son of famed American author Stephen King, and Penn is the son of actors Sean Penn and Robin Wright.

Many people have highlighted the nepotism seemingly on display in the film industry following the post.

American film and TV producer Franklin Leonard wrote: “Hollywood’s a meritocracy”, to which 55-year-old Stiller responded: “Too easy @franklinleonard. People, working, creating. Everyone has their path. Wish them all the best.”

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“Just speaking from experience, and I don’t know any of them, I would bet they all have faced challenges,” the Night at The Museum actor said while defending The Rightway cast. “Different than those with no access to the industry. Showbiz as we all know is pretty rough, and ultimately is a meritocracy.”

Leonard then questioned “the utter lack of diversity behind the camera” and the project’s “lack of merit”.

“I don’t for a second doubt that they’ve all faced challenges,” he wrote. “They’re human. I simply reject the claim that the industry is – in the short term or long term – a meritocracy. If it were, how do you explain the utter lack of diversity behind the camera? Lack of merit?”

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Stiller was quick to respond back. He wrote: “100 per cent agree. Diversity is much bigger issue. No question. And I see your point, access is access. So yes. I’m saying that untalented people don’t really last if they get a break because of who they are or know or are related to.”

However, many fans aren’t happy with the Zoolander actor’s comments, with some highlighting that the actor lacks “self-awareness”.

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“Thanks [Ben Stiller] for reminding everyone that your only real credit in Hollywood is due to your parents,” one person wrote.

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Another person highlighted how “Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara’s son would like you to know that Hollywood ‘ultimately is a meritocracy.’”

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“Lol Ben Stiller, son of comedy legends Jerry Stiller & Anne Meara claims Hollywood is a meritocracy. How many Black, Latino, Native & Asian people do you think had parents who were in a position to give them their first acting gigs?” questioned another person.

The Independent has contacted Stiller for comment.

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