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(L-R) Mizua Peck, Robin Williams, Ben Stiller, Rami Malek, and Patrick Gallagher in ‘Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

*“Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb” continues to excite and expand the imagination after bringing to life historical figures—including the Tuskegee Airmen—and relics of the past in the first two installments. Not only have museums benefited with increased revenues, but the “Night at the Museum” movies have spawned a series of overnight sleepovers for children and parents.

Much of the cast is back with a number of added one. Bill Cobbs, Dick Van Dyke and Mickey Rooney make cameo appearances. Director Shawn Levy, Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Rebel Wilson, and Dan Stevens were at the Mandarin Hotel in New York to talk about “Night at the Museum.” Noticeably missing, and with great sorrow, was Robin Williams, who committed suicide last summer.

How was it working with Robin?

BEN STILLER: I always was excited to work with Robin because I’ve always been a fan of his since I was a kid—since I was like 12 or 13 when “Mork & Mindy” was on. It was just always a thrill for me to work with him. He was a genius and a really genuine person. But, for me, the thing that I take away from working with him, he was so kind and generous to everybody. Every single person that would come up to him in any way. It was amazing to watch and he set a really high bar for anyone else.

SHAWN LEVY: Robin’s role in this third movie is bigger than the prior two. I was editing when the tragic news came. I esd reeling. It was just horrible—and it continued to be this weird experience where I’m in the editing room every day andi’m there and Robin’s in every scene. This ‘Museum’ was intended to be the third and final of these movies. It’s extra poignant now [as he bids farewell in the final scene].

Did you ever have any idea this series would be so popular with children and adults?

SL: I don’t think you could ever go into a movie and presume it would be this popular. It’s some kind of fantasy that something you create would be embraced to this extent. So no, we knew we had a really great idea at the core of this but the way that it was embraced worldwide was an incredible,  fantastic surprise. Ben, what do you think?

BS: You make movie, do your best and hope they connect. When I read the script, I knew it was an idea that I would love to see and something that made me feel connected to my childhood. The fantasies I had as a kid of things coming alive was a thought process actually connected with the rest of the world, and that doesn’t always happen.

As the new kids on the block, how was it for you Dan and Rebel?

DAN STEVENS:  It was a little daunting but it was a wonderful thing; even if Sir Lancelot didn’t know what world he was stepping into. I kind of did. I loved the first two movies and so I knew what world I was throwing him into and that kind of helped. It was great fun.

REBEL WILSON: I was a little intimidated. In terms of coming into the ensemble and just like knowing so many great and iconic comedians were part of it. I just felt like a little bit of pressure. I just wanted to do my best and represent a bit of girl power in the movie. Yeah, that was fun.

Ben, how was it doing double duty as Larry and his Neanderthal doppelganger Laaa?

BS: I loved the caveman from the first two movies. Those guys are the same guys from all three films and they’re a great bunch of actors. So it was fun to bond with them and hang out and just kind of learn from them. That’s the funny thing, we’ve all aged as actors but the creatures sort of get frozen in time.

BS: I loved the caveman from the first two movies. Those guys are the same guys from all three films and they’re a great bunch of actors. So it was fun to bond with them and hang out and just kind of learn from them. That’s the funny thing, we’ve all aged as actors but the creatures sort of get frozen in time.

What scene you weren’t in that makes the film special to you?

DS: I think the scene with Ben and Dexter at the end of the movie is one of the most moving scenes I’ve seen in cinema [laughs. It’s one of the most special scenes between a man and an animal in cinematic history, I think.

SL: Go on youtube.

DS: I think that was a beautiful scene. The second kiss wasn’t even scripted. That’s all I’m saying. Ben didn’t have to go in for the second kiss; it wasn’t in the script

BS: It felt right and we both had our shots

Will there be a fourth installment?

SL: There were no plans for a fourth. We felt like this movie was about letting go. And it brings a certain closure to these characters. And so I can’t predict if that resolution will change. This whole year I’ve been focused on telling this final story as well as I possibly can. No plans for beyond.

Syndicated Entertainment journalist Marie Moore reports on film and TV from her New York City base. Contact her at [email protected]