The Zoolander star has always been a fan of the sport and when he saw a table in a bar while filming in Georgia he signed up to play, not realising he would be up against die-hard players.
He recalls, “I realised that I was in a tournament… All of a sudden I looked around and I was in this kind of hipster, (movie) Deliverance situation.
“I won the first round and the second round a guy comes in… and he had jet-black hair, very cool-looking, sleeves cut off and he was serious; he had his own leather incased ping pong paddles (bats) and he had ping pong balls with his initials on them… and he just killed me. He was like the Rafael Nadal of ping pong.”
The defeat made Stiller determined to perfect his ping pong and so he set up a table on the set of his new movie The Watch and challenged cast and crew.
He adds, “That got all crazy… I got a ping pong table… and then I started to take some YouTube ping pong tutorials… You have to practice if you wanna get good. I did get pretty good and finally I set up a tournament on the set because I had this weird chip on my shoulder… and then I went out in the first round of this ping pong tournament… Some grip (beat me)… The guy was really good.”
Stiller is not the only Hollywood star serious about table tennis – Susan Sarandon owns a New York club dedicated to the sport.