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EXPERIENCE COUNTS

Ben Stiller's career is booming, thanks to his missteps along the way.

Stiller, who co-stars with Cameron Diaz in the goofy comedy "There's Something About Mary," has two new movies: "Your Friends and Neighbors" and "Permanent Midnight."

If things seemed bleak not so long ago, Stiller says all the experiences paid off.

"You learn more from failures than successes," he said.

Consider his resume: His 1992 "Ben Stiller Show" on Fox was last in the ratings but gave him valuable behind-the-lens experience. He directed Jim Carrey in "The Cable Guy," a comedy that some fans found too dark. His plan to film a movie about a Rolling Stones tour fell through.

The 32-year-old Stiller says he gleaned plenty from his parents, comedians Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara. He especially learned resilience.

"The focus, the commitment -- that stays with you forever," says Stiller.

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