Josh Rottenberg
April 17, 2009 AT 04:00 AM EDT

EW: When you were making Night at the Museum, did you have any sense it might be the beginning of a franchise?
BEN STILLER: With the first one, I just really loved the idea of it. I grew up in New York near the Museum of Natural History, so when I read that script, I just thought, ”If I was 10 years old, I’d want to see this movie.” Then I thought, ”Well, I kind of want to see the movie now.” [Laughs] I just connected with it personally. But I didn’t foresee it going to the next phase.

EW: Obviously the challenge was to come up with a fresh story for the sequel so it’s not just ”Oh, my God, everything is coming to life again?!”
BS: [Laughs] Exactly. The whole first one, I’m running around going, ”Oh, my God, that’s coming to life! And that’s coming to life!” So now what do you do? We came up with this thought: What if my character’s dream to become an inventor and entrepreneur actually happened? That gave us a starting point that felt different. So at the beginning of the second movie, it’s a few years later and Larry has become, like, a Ron Popeil type of guy. He’s doing an infomercial with George Foreman. He’s gotten a little bit disconnected from his roots at the museum, and he has to reconnect with his friends there and help them out when they’re in trouble.

EW: And along the way, your character also has a romance with Amelia Earhart?
BS: Yeah, even though she’s not a human. We constantly wrestled with ”How much of a relationship with a wax dummy is he going to have?” [Laughs] We had to figure out how to resolve that.

EW: Where could you possibly go with a third movie? You’re going to run out of museums at some point.
BS: I don’t know. I guess the Louvre has already been Da Vinci Code‘d out, and I don’t think the Vatican is that funny a museum. [Pauses] Night at MoMA?

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