News & Politics

How on Earth Did Mitt Romney Come to Be Hanging Out With Ben Stiller?

It began with a Zoolander reference and ended at Jeff Bezos's house.

(Photo from Flickr and Wikimedia Commons.)

Utah Senator Mitt Romney has become a central player in the impeachment puzzle. Over the weekend, though, he found himself at the center of a far less pressing riddle: what, exactly, he was doing hanging out with actor Ben Stiller.

Stiller arrived in Washington last weekend as Romney’s guest at the Alfalfa Club Dinner. Both men were later seen at an after-party hosted at the Kalorama mansion of Jeff Bezos.

How did the unlikely Romney-Stiller pair (or as it’s known in Hollywood, Stiller-Romney) come to be?

Romney says he met the actor when Stiller appeared before the Senate, testifying about his work with the United Nations on behalf of Syrian refugees.  “He rattled off names of places and people he’d met and their conditions. It was quite impressive,” says Romney.

Before he left the chamber, Romney passed Stiller a note: “I can’t believe you had the nerve to appear before this committee after you tried to assassinate the Prime Minister of Malaysia.” (For Gen-Z’ers, the Zoolander reference can be found here.) After that, “we began to hit if off,” says Romney, “and I thought he’d be a fun person to bring” to the Alfalfa banquet.

Both Romney and his wife, Ann, count Stiller’s movies among their favorites: Meet the Parents and Zoolander and newer films like Night at the Museum—an occupational requirement, Romney said, when you have 24 grandkids. He also has a soft spot for Stiller’s parents, Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, particularly the couple’s ads for Blue Nun Wine. (Romney, a teetotaler, is apparently not barred by religious doctrine from enjoying funny TV commercials for alcohol.)

Romney and Stiller were later seen at an after-party hosted by Bezos, where Stiller charmed guests. “The world of politics and the world of Hollywood—they don’t meet on the East Coast very often,” Romney said before adding a crack of his own:

“I did think to myself that I was acting out a George Costanza line: Worlds collide, Jerry! Worlds collide!

Benjamin Wofford
Staff Writer

Benjamin Wofford is a contributing editor at Washingtonian.