Sharing Steve :: New Stuff
Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A new Steve Interview in Scotland

This makes me wonder -- are Steve and Anne in Scotland for the Lonach Games? We'll have to keep checking.

Comedy star Steve Martin able to smile at last after finding marital bliss
Jul 26 2008 By Siobhan Synnot

STEVE MARTIN has been making people laugh for years - including his latest scene-stealing role in Baby Mama.

He's the insane boss of main character Kate and some say his performance is worth the ticket price alone.

But off screen, Steve projects a very different image.

The silver-haired comic is far from a wild and crazy guy - the kind of character heplayed in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and a host of other movies.

He's like your tax accountant, only a little more shy and a little more distant.

Pal and talk-show host David Letterman, defends his serious style.

"If you go to the home of a guy who shines shoes all day," says Letterman, "you're probably not going to get your shoes shined when you walk in." However, at 62, Steve may now have more to smile about, having found love again with a woman half his age, and buried demons that include his own stern and distant dad.

Steve always loved beautiful women but had his heart broken more than a few times. Romances with Linda Ronstadt and Bernadette Peters were replaced by a seven-year marriage to Brit Victoria Tennant, until she left him for another man in 1993.

For a while, he found peace with best friend and co-star Diane Keaton, followed by a rather public love affair with actress Anne Heche when she was 25. She left him for Ellen DeGeneres after coming out as a lesbian. As part of the recovery process, he wrote Bowfinger, which includes a character who seemed rather familiar: a young, social climbing blonde actress who breaks hearts the way some break nails.

Then, last year, Hollywood's most famous "lonely guy", married New York writer Anne Stringfield, 35, by throwing a party - then telling his stunned guests, including Tom Hanks and Diane Keaton, that it was in fact a wedding ceremony.

The star says he's not ruling out being a father himself, although it's a role he never considered until "I played a movie dad".

Anne, who looks startlingly like Sex And The City's Kristin Davis, is credited with making her husband open up to the possibilities of life and love - and that has meant confronting his past.

Only now has he admitted his comedy was driven by dark forces.

In particular, his difficult and, on one occasion, violent relationship with his father casts a long shadow over Steve both as a performer and as a man.

Steve was doing magic and comedy from an early age, and found work after school by cycling to nearby Disneyland and setting up shows so he could perform.

However, Steve's father, Glenn, a failed actor, gave Steve no encouragement, and made it clear he didn't care for his son's stand-up, even when thousands crammed into stadium-sized venues to see the crazy guy in the white suit in the Seventies.

He remained unimpressed even after Steve's screen success in The Jerk, saying to Steve's friends: "He's no Charlie Chaplin." "He didn't speak much, only to criticise or be stern," admits Steve, who says he was devastated by his dad's dismissiveness but understands his father's own upbringing contributed to his harsh behaviour.

"We were from Texas, which was very much the Old West - staunch, stern.

"But I never thought of my childhood as difficult or hard until later. I had great friends. I had laughs - but not at home."

Their relationship nosedived before Steve was a teenager. One night, when he was nine, a seemingly innocent reply to a question resulted in his father beating him with a belt. The thrashing "never seemed to end," according to Steve.

"I curled my arms around my body as he stood overme and delivered the blows." So severe was the beating, he had to wear long trousers to school the next day to hide the marks.

AFTER that, he resolved "with icy determination that only the most formal relationship would exist between my father and me".

Yet, later, GlennMartin softened and started to admit to his son he was proud of his work, especially his writing. He also admitted he had been wrong to publicly criticise his son.

Father and son were reconciled when Glenn died aged 83.

"You did everything I wanted to do," a dying Glenn told his son, and Steve responded, "I did it for you."

Over the years, he thinks he's learned a lot about the problems of keeping love going. He says: "You hope for the perfect one, but you have to forgive and make allowances for people and your partner."

He's had to deal with disappointments like the break-up of his first marriage - he and Victoria still don't speak.

He also recalls one love affair where he later tracked down the woman and talked about the breakdown of their romance.

"I asked her why she slept with me, and she said, 'So I can tell my friends'." It's a punchline he doesn't find funny.

Steve Martin is an organised, disciplined man. He keeps his collection of expensive modern art meticulously catalogued in his laptop computer. He remembers friends' birthdays and answers emails and phonecalls promptly.

In past interviews, he's been polite and patient but he is not the loveable, slightly goofy guy of The Man With Two Brains, Parenthood or Cheaper By The Dozen.

"There's a difference between having a darker side and being crazy," says Steve, who is preparing for his second Pink Panther film, almost 50 years after Peter Sellers first brought the bumbling French policeman to the big screen.

"Peter Sellers was slightly, at least from what I've read, tortured. We all have our dark side, and I'msort of in the middle," says the actor, who embraced self-help books and therapy to ensure sanity.

There was a time in the mid-Seventies when he drank too much. Now he keep demons at bay, and avoids meat and booze. When he was first approached, Steve turned down the chance to remake Inspector Clouseau, a job also offered to Mike Myers and Kevin Spacey. Gradually, he came around to the idea.

"Look at the number of times they've remade King Kong. And A Star is Born. All these stories keep coming back and I've justified it by saying, well, it's like a play.

Nobody says, 'Ooooh, I can't do Hamlet because Richard Burton did it.' Inspector Clouseau is the Hamlet for comedians."

Even though he's hosted the Academy Awards, he doesn't mind never taking one home but reckons people underestimate how tough it is to do good funny work, and playing it straight can be easier.

"I had a friend who's a comedian. He had done a drama and got all these honours for it, and he said, 'Steve, if I got praised for dramatic acting, it's because I did a scene without blinking, and, when on a close-up, I was thinking about dinner.'"

Recent work like Baby Mama, Shop Girl and Bringing Down The House show his movies are popular, but he's now a dad rather than the restless, wacky wild-and-crazy guy. And that's fine by Steve.

"Time has helped me achieve peace with celebrity," he quips. "At first, I was not famous enough, then I was too famous and now I am famous just right."

Nowadays, a regular day for Mr and Mrs Steve Martin at their Beverly Hills home might include a long walk or yoga in the morning, lunch at a restaurant, a bit of writing for Steve and then dinner. Sometimes, he'll jam on the banjo.

"Sometimes, I get together with friends. I play with Billy Connolly. There are a few of us. I don't work very hard," he says.

"I'd like to be working a little bit more, actually."


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