Miriam Margolyes Says Steve Martin Was ‘Unlovely and Unapologetic’ on ‘Little Shop of Horrors,’ Martin and Director Frank Oz Respond

Miriam Margolyes writes in her new memoir, “Oh Miriam! Stories from an Extraordinary Life,” that Steve Martin was “horrid” to her on the set of Frank Oz’s 1986 “Little Shop of Horrors” movie musical (via HuffPo UK). Martin played the sadistic dentist Orin Scrivello, while Margolyes, best known these days for playing Professor Sprout in the “Harry Potter” film series, starred as his character’s assistant. They shared a musical number, “Dentist!,” in which his character slams a door in her face. Apparently he did so for real.

“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,” Margolyes writes. “Perhaps he was method acting – and [I] came home grumpy with a splitting headache.”

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While Margolyes calls Martin “undeniably brilliant,” she adds, “but horrid to me….Let it not be said that I have never suffered in the name of Art.”

Martin provided a statement to Variety on Friday afternoon, objecting to Margolyes’ implication that he had physically harmed her.

“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,” Martin wrote. “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.”

Martin’s representatives also provided a statement from director Frank Oz, who concurred with Martin’s account: “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.”

On the contrary, Buscemi was a wonderful actor to work with on 1993’s “Ed And His Dead Mother.”

“Steve Buscemi is a brilliant actor and we had a delightful rapport,” Margolyes writes. “For somebody who’s being terrorized by me in the form of a murderous living corpse, he was unerringly sweet – knocked spots off Steve Martin.”

Margolyes has been vocal in the past about working with rude actors. During an interview on the “I’ve Got News For You” podcast last year, she said she disliked working with Arnold Schwarzenegger on the 1999 supernatural action movie “End of Days.” Schwarzenegger allegedly farted on Margolyes’ face in between filming takes. Margolyes said Schwarzenegger “deliberately” did it and she still hasn’t forgiven him.

“He’s a bit too full of himself and I don’t care for him at all. He’s a Republican, which I don’t like,” Margolyes said of Schwarzenegger. “He was actually quite rude. He farted in my face. Now, I fart, of course, I do — but I don’t fart in people’s faces. He did it deliberately, right in my face.”

Schwarzenegger never commented on the allegation.

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