Ben Stiller Speaks Out on Owen Wilson’s Inner Pain

updated 07/18/2008 AT 2:00 PM ET

originally published 07/18/2008 AT 2:40 PM ET

They may be all laughs together on the silver screen, but when it comes to friend Owen Wilson’s attempted suicide last year, Tropic Thunder star Ben Stiller is gravely serious.

“I love Owen, and I felt bad that he had to deal with all the outside bulls–,” the comic actor, 42, tells Playboy in its August issue. “It’s impossible to understand that kind of pain – depression or anything like that – until you’re in it.”

On a cheerier note, Stiller admits to idolizing costar Robert Downey Jr. on the Thunder set.

“Because I was so blown away by the guy, I started trying to copy him,” he says. “It was like, Wow, this guy’s a genius; maybe if I do what he does, I’ll be a genius too!”

And as for leading-man Tom Cruise, who does an unflattering turn as a bald studio head in Tropic Thunder, Stiller was impressed with his enthusiasm.

“The role was his idea,” he says. “It wasn’t even in the script. I didn’t have to persuade him.”

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