Shortly before they began work on ‘Duplex’, Robin and Stephen spent three weeks in India, where they got engaged in a temple full of flowers and monkeys. The trip was inspiring. They saw hand-carved marble and hyper-detailed mosaics. They marveled at the way Indian architecture and religion melded seamlessly. They came home and poured everything they had into ‘Duplex’, which called for “pure architectural pornography.” Says Robin, “We went for it. We made custom tiles in the shapes of peacocks and custom-stained glass and millwork with beveled windows. We celebrated traditional forms and reinvented them.” According to Stephen “There were hundreds of pieces, moldings, traveling around every room.” 

Inspired by the Aesthetic movement the couple took their favorite nineteenth-century New York brownstone elements and put them into what the felt was the most extraordinary building they could create. Ben [Stiller] would constantly comment on how beautiful the set was. He said, “My house is like a set; this is like a house. My life is in reverse at the moment.”

Robin elaborates on that defining moment “We had a telling moment together. He was acting; he stepped away and talked to us about helping with his place because he loved the set. We had created something very complete. We cared about every detail – even how it smelled – and it moved him.” 

“We went over to Ben and his wife Christine’s house one evening, and we looked, and it was just a mess. He had just finished a renovation.” Stephen recalls how they became involved. “The construction was hollow and thin. Ben was going to this beautiful set during the day and then coming back home to a space that wasn’t inspired. He asked for some sketches, and we spent one intense weekend putting together drawings and renderings and then presented them to him and Christine, and they said, “Yes, let’s do it.” 

Adds Robin, “It changed our lives. We never did another film after that day.”