Miriam Margolyes has got something of a reputation. During interviews, she will always wade right in with opinions, sometimes outrageous, and frequently to the discomfort of the interviewer or talk show host. She will also frequently recount stories of the various productions she has starred in. Sometimes, however, others allege that their recollection of the events may vary.
One of Margolyes’ common complaints is the rudeness of other actors, and she once singled out Arnold Schwarzenegger for comment on a podcast, claiming he broke wind in her face during the production of End Of Days.
Her most recent “revelation” may be the one that exposes her as something of a fantasist. She appeared in Frank Oz’s 1986 film Little Shop of Horrors alongside Steve Martin’s dentist character Orin Scrivello. In the movie, he is a sadist who enjoys inflicting pain on people. One person on the receiving end of his attention is his nurse, played by Margoyles. In one scene she gets punched and has a door slammed in her face.
In her new memoir Oh Miriam! Stories from an Extraordinary Life she addresses this sequence, saying:
“During my only musical number (Dentist!). I was hit all day by doors opening in my face; repeatedly punched, slapped, and knocked down by an unlovely and unapologetic Steve Martin. Perhaps he was method acting – and [I] came home grumpy with a splitting headache.”
She also refers to Steve Martin as:
“…undeniably brilliant… but horrid to me…”
On hearing this, Martin responded via a statement to Variety fundamentally refuting her point of view:
“When I first read Mariam Margolyes pejorative account of our scene in Little Shop of Horrors, I was surprised. My memory is that we had a good communication as professional actors. But when it is implied that I harmed her or was in some way careless about doing the stunts, I have to object.
I remember taking EXTREME caution regarding the fake punch – the same caution I would use with any similar scene. She assured me she felt fine, and we did a few successful takes and stopped. There was never any physical contact between her and me, accidental or otherwise, in this scene or any other we shot.”
So not just saying that he doesn’t recall, or if anything did harm her during the scene then he is sorry. He is directly calling her out as lying. A statement from director Frank Oz backs up Martin’s view of events:
“I always rehearse physical actions in slow motion. The scene was supposed to include a fake punch. It’s puzzling what she’s talking about. It’s not the Steve I know or anyone knows. He’s always been professional and respectful of everyone on all of my shoots.”
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