When not hobnobbing with history's greatest waxwork figures or publicly staring down Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller is a serious artist with serious ambitions to do serious work. He’s currently in talks to star in serious director Alan Ball's upcoming I Am Chippendales, the previously reported project about the rise and fall of Somen Banerjee, an Indian immigrant who turned a failing bar into an internationally successful male stripping business, before hiring hit men to kill several of his associates. Stiller will not portray an ostentatious male stripper—that’s the kind of thing the frivolous Stiller of yesteryear would do—but will rather play Nick DeNoia, Banerjee’s choreographer, business partner, and alleged murder victim.
As if that weren’t enough to establish Stiller as someone who takes his craft seriously, he’s also vying to direct The Current War, a historical drama about industry titans Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse’s competition to supply America with electricity. While Westinghouse wanted to transmit electricity to the masses using alternating current, which had the advantage of economically transporting electricity over large distances, Edison favored direct current, which had the advantage of making him lots of money in patent royalties. Edison embarked on a smear campaign to discredit alternating current, at one point using it to electrocute a circus elephant to death in an attempt to show how dangerous it was. It’s hoped that Stiller's take will be as enlightening as when Bob's Burgers tackled the topic, but with a more serious tone befitting an artist of his caliber.