Ben Stiller didn't expect to realize he was already with the woman of his dreams when he was shooting Meet the Parents in 1999. Though he'd previously dated A-list actresses like Calista Flockhart and Amanda Peet, there was something about Christine Taylor that the movie star couldn't resist.
"I proposed to Christine when I was rehearsing Meet the Parents," Stiller recalls in Parade's Dec. 22 issue. "I asked her father for permission before I did it. It was like Meet the Parents in real life, because Christine's father is an intimidating guy who owns a security company; we're good friends now, but at the time I was in the basement rec room saying, 'I really would like to marry your daughter.' He's a man of few words but he was very welcoming. I was more nervous asking him than asking her."
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty star continues, "[Our] relationship was a gradual thing that happened over a quick period of time, maybe seven or eight months. We just started hanging out with each other and it developed into, 'Wow, this feels great. I really like this person. I think I love this person. I really do—I love this person.' It hit me out of the blue."
Stiller lists other life-changing events in the article, including the births of his children, Ella and Quinlin.
"When your wife is pregnant for nine months, you get used to the idea of pregnancy. Obviously, you know where it's leading, but it almost becomes this abstract idea; and then suddenly the next time you go back to the house, you have another person living with you. Who you've just met. Your child," the 48-year-old screen star recalls. "I was thinking moment to moment: Just get her from the baby carrier to the crib. It's a short distance but a huge change."
Stiller is able to recognize the qualities his kids have inherited from their parents, but he's also in awe of their own personas. "My kids are 11 and 8 now, and I can see aspects of myself in them, but I also see two totally unique individuals," he tells Parade. "And I wonder how they became so well adjusted!"