In February, Ben revealed that Ella had a conversation with him about “not being there” during her childhood due to his career.
“She’s pretty articulate about it, and sometimes it’s stuff that I don’t want to hear. It’s hard to hear,” he explained to Esquire. “Because it’s me not being there in the ways that I saw my parents [actors Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara] not being there. I had always thought, ‘Well, I won’t do that.'”
While he noted that it “didn’t feel great” to hear Ella say that, Ben said it was “important to acknowledge” her feelings, adding, “But then it’s that thing that, like, I was trying to navigate my own desire to fulfill the hopes and dreams I had, too.”
The actor went on to say that Ella and her brother Quinlin Stiller were never keeping notes on his absences due to work, they just wanted to spend quality time with their dad.
“What I’ve learned is that your kids are not keeping score on your career,” he explained. “It would be solipsistic to think that my kids actually care about that. They just want a parent who’s emotionally present and supportive of them. That’s probably what they want more than for me to be going off and pushing the bounds of my creativity.”