Derek's repetition of the line "But why male models?" for the second time, in the cemetery scene, was an ad-lib by the actors; Ben Stiller forgot his line and simply repeated the earlier line again, and David Duchovny ran with it and gave him a straight answer.
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Ben Stiller wrote the part of Hansel specifically for Owen Wilson, and said that no one else was even considered for the role.
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Derek Zoolander's "Blue Steel" look evolved from Christine Taylor ribbing her husband, Ben Stiller, about the way he combs his hair in front of a mirror in real-life.
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Ben Stiller wrote David Bowie's scene as judge of the walk-off into the script without knowing for sure whether he would agree to it.
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Ben Stiller had several family members in this film: his wife, Christine Taylor (Matilda), his father, Jerry Stiller (Maury Ballstein), his mother Anne Meara (protestor who hits Mugatu with an egg), his sister Amy Stiller (one of Hansel's friends in his loft), and his brother-in-law, Mitch Winston (director of the infomercial).
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Owen Wilson (Hansel) wore a wig for the entire movie. He was filming Behind Enemy Lines (2001) at the same time, and had to keep his hair short for the role.
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The film has been banned in Malaysia because of the use of fictional Malaysian Prime Minister as the subject of assassination. It was originally also banned in neighboring Singapore, but the ban has since been lifted.
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This is the first American movie in which Alexander Skarsgård appeared.
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Bret Easton Ellis, author of the 1998 novel "Glamorama", about a dimwitted male model who finds himself embroiled in a terrorist ring with roots in the fashion industry, sued Ben Stiller following the release of this film, citing copyright infringement. The case was settled out of court.
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Images of the World Trade Center towers were removed before the movie's September 28, 2001 release, only seventeen days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks where the towers were brought down. They were edited out of one shot, and obscured in another.
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David Bowie made a cameo appearance in this movie, and worked with Ben Stiller again, in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013), featuring his remastered song, "Space Oddity".
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The part of Mugatu was originally written for Andy Dick, who couldn't play it due to commitments to Go Fish (2001). Instead, Dick was cast in the smaller role of Olga the masseuse.
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The non-graphic orgy sequence was originally longer, but shortened to obtain a PG-13 rating.
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Hansel (Owen Wilson) said, "Who you tryin' to get crazy with 'ese? Don't you know I'm loco?" These are the opening lines to the Cypress Hill song "Insane in the Brain".
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Premiere Magazine voted this movie as one of "The 50 Greatest Comedies Of All Time" in 2006.
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The club scene depicts Winona Ryder giving Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) advice to "lay low" in order to rebuild his modelling career. This scene "foreshadowed" Ryder's real-life experience with a shipwrecked career. Three months after the release of this movie, Ryder was arrested for shoplifting clothes. Later, she self-imposed a six-year career exile to rebuild her reputation as a serious actress.
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While trying to be farcical, the film is actually quite accurate regarding the modelling industry. Even the quick scene of the two sets of bunk beds at Derek's apartment is factual. Cindy Crawford and Jules Asner shared a similar bunkroom during the early days of their modelling careers.
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The coal mining scenes were filmed at the Sterling Hill Mining Museum in Ogdensburg, New Jersey. It was formerly a zinc mine. Despite what the film suggests, there are no coal mines in New Jersey.
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The voice heard saying, "Ooo, Maury!" after Maury delivers the tushy squeeze, is actually the voice of Christine Taylor (Matilda Jeffries).
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This is the first major film that Ben Stiller's wife, Christine Taylor, starred side-by-side with him. Stiller directed her in a short film, called Heat Vision and Jack (1999).
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The yo-yo scenes, as shown by Hansel (Owen Wilson), were performed by professional yo-yo performer and Duncan Yo-Yo Company employee Steve Brown.
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The first television coverage of the September 11 attacks, on the WNYW channel, interrupted a commercial for this movie.
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Derek Zoolander is shown on a billboard modelling for Feria. Milla Jovovich (Katinka Ingabogovinanana) modelled for Feria at the time.
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According to an interview with Ben Stiller, this movie started out as a character sketch for VH1 Fashion Awards. After several written scripts and over several years, the studio finally agreed to film it. The movie's release immediately followed the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and has been cited as a reason for its "failure" at the box-office. (It didn't fail, it just performed below expectations, and yielded a small profit.)
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When Derek and Hansel are trying to turn on the computer, the whole scene is a reference to 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). (They are acting like monkeys, the same music plays, and Hansel grabs a bone just like in Stanley Kubrick's movie.
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This movie marks the last on-screen appearance of renowned Make-up Artist Kevyn Aucoin.
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Filmed during the VH1 Vogue Fashion Awards in 2000 at the Madison Square Garden Theater.
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When Derek first gets to Hansel's pad, and Hansel asks Ennui to get him some of the special tea, there is a picture in the background of Hansel holding two tires. This is a copy of a famous Herb Ritts photo from 1984, "Fred with tyres".
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The names for the three facial expressions (Magnum, Le Tigre, Blue Steel) are the names of three of the sim server banks in Second Life.
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Despite numerous instances suggesting that Derek has extremely low intelligence, he is somehow able to speak Malay, although he still makes malapropisms.
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Trance artist BT was originally scoring the film in collaboration with Ben Stiller, but was replaced with Composer David Arnold.
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Derek's cell phone has the Nokia ringtone "Samba".
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In the break-dance fighting scene, if you look closely, you can see Owen Wilson has a silver tooth on the right side of his mouth.
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Katinka (Milla Jovovich) calls Mathilda "Kmart", in reference to her low fashion clothing from the store. In the Resident Evil film franchise, there is a character named "Kmart" (played by Spencer Locke).
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Katinka Ingabogovinanana's (Milla Jovovich's) car is a Citroën SM, modified for the American market.
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The massive video walls on both sides of the stage were provided by (now defunct) Mobile Wall One, Inc.
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In the Hansel apartment scene, Matlida (Christine Taylor) confesses she was bulimic as a child. Taylor played Marcia Brady in The Brady Bunch Movie (1995), and A Very Brady Sequel (1996). Maureen McCormick played Marcia on The Brady Bunch (1969), who suffered from bulimia.
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Ben Stiller: [Star Trek] Mugatu is named after Mugato from Star Trek: The Original Series: A Private Little War (1968). His costume was also modeled after the character. Note that the 'Mugato' in the episode is credited as 'The Gumato'.
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Saint Adonis Cemetery, where the three male models are buried after their "freak gasoline fight accident", does not exist. In fact, there is no such saint. Adonis is a young man in ancient Greek mythology known for his great beauty.
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When Derek (Ben Stiller) and Hansel (Owen Wilson) disguise themselves and sneak into Maury's (Jerry Stiller's) office, Hansel's jumpsuit has a name tag on which the name "Kumar" is printed. This refers to Kumar Pallana, who appeared in the following Wes Anderson films: Bottle Rocket (1996), Rushmore (1998), The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), and The Darjeeling Limited (2007).
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