Martin, Steve: Profile of Actor-Writer

Steve Martin plays Inspector Clouseau in “Pink Panther 2,” a comedy for which he also served as screenwriter.   One of the most diversified performers in the film industry today, as actor, comedian, author, playwright, and producer, Martin has been successful as a writer of and performer in some of the most popular movies of recent film history.

 

Last year, Martin appeared in the hit comedy Baby Mama.  He also executive produced and wrote the story for the dramatic film Traitor.

 

In 2007, Martin published two books: Our Alphabet Book, a children’s book co-written with fellow The New Yorker illustrator Roz Chast, and his autobiography, Born Standing Up.

 

In February 2006, Martin starred in The Pink Panther playing the role of Inspector Clouseau, originally made famous by Peter Sellers.  The film, which reunited Martin with director Shawn Levy and costarred Beyonce Knowles and Kevin Kline.

In 2005, Martin received critical praise for the film Shopgirl, costarring Claire Danes and Jason Schwartzman.  The screenplay was written by Martin and adapted from his best-selling novella of the same name. 

 

At Christmas 2003, Martin starred in the highest grossing film of his career, Cheaper by the Dozen, directed by Shawn Levy for 20th Century Fox.  The family comedy, co-starring Bonnie Hunt and Hillary Duff, has grossed over $135 million domestically.  Christmas 2005 saw the much anticipated sequel Cheaper by the Dozen 2 staring the original cast and adding in a rival family, headed by Eugene Levy.  In February of 2003, Martin starred with Queen Latifah in the blockbuster comedy, Bringing Down the House for Touchstone Pictures, which grossed $132.7 million. 

 

Martin hosted the 75th Annual Academy Awards® in 2003, his second time handling those duties, the first being the 73rd Oscars.  The 75th Annual Academy Awards® was nominated for seven Emmy Awards, including a nomination for Outstanding Individual Performance In a Variety or Music Program.

 

Born in Waco, Texas and raised in Southern California, Mr. Martin became a television writer in the late 1960s, winning an Emmy Award for his work on the hit series “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.”  By the end of the decade he was performing his own material in clubs and on television.

 

Launched by frequent appearances on Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show,” Mr. Martin went on to host several shows in the innovative “Saturday Night Live” series and to star in and co-write four highly rated television specials.  When performing on national concert tours, he drew standing-room-only audiences in some of the largest venues in the country.  He won Grammy Awards for his two comedy albums, “Let’s Get Small” and “A Wild and Crazy Guy,” and had a gold record with his single “King Tut.” In 2003, Martin also won a Grammy® Award for Best Country Instrumentalist for his playing on Earl Scruggs 75th Anniversary album.

 

Martin’s first film project, The Absent-Minded Waiter, a short he wrote and starred in, was nominated for a 1977 Academy Award®.  In 1979, he moved into feature films, co-writing and starring in The Jerk, directed by Carl Reiner.   In 1981, he starred opposite Bernadette Peters in Herbert Ross’ bittersweet musical comedy, Pennies From Heaven.

 

The actor then co-wrote and starred in the 1982 send-up of detective thrillers Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid and the science fiction comedy The Man With Two Brains, both directed by Carl Reiner.  In 1984, Martin received a Best Actor Award from both the New York Film Critics Association and the National Board of Review for his performance opposite Lily Tomlin in All of Me, his forth collaboration with writer/director Carl Reiner.

 

In 1987, his motion picture hit, Roxanne, a modern adaptation of the Cyrano de Bergerac legend, garnered Martin not only warm audience response, but also a Best Actor Award from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and Best Screenplay Award from the Writer Guild of America.  Martin was also the executive producer on the film.

 

In 1988, he costarred with Michael Caine in the hit comedy film Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, his second feature collaboration with director Frank Oz (the first being Little Shop of Horrors).  In 1989, he starred with Mary Steenburgen and Diane Wiest in Ron Howard’s affectionate family comedy Parenthood for Universal Pictures.

 

In 1991, Martin wrote, starred in and co-executive produced the critically acclaimed comedy L.A. Story, a motion picture about a love story set in Los Angeles.  That same year he made a cameo appearance in Lawrence Kasdan’s critically lauded Grand Canyon and starred with Diane Keaton in the hit Disney film Father of the Bride, receiving the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Actor in a Comedy Motion Picture for the latter.  In 1992, he starred in the Universal comedy feature Housesitter, opposite Goldie Hawn, winning the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Actor in a Comedy, for the second year in a row.

 

In 1996, he starred again with Diane Keaton in the hit sequel to Father of the Bride, and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award.  In 1997, he received universal critical acclaim for his riveting performance in director David Mamet’s thriller, The Spanish Prisoner.

 

Martin wrote and starred in the hilarious 1999 feature comedy Bowfinger, opposite Eddie Murphy for Director Frank Oz.  The film was showcased at the Deauville International Film Festival.

 

Martin’s other films include John Hughes’ Planes, Trains and Automobiles, co-starring John Candy, and the comic Western send-up ¡Three Amigos! co-staring Marin Short and Chevy Chase.

 

In the fall of 1993, Martin’s first original play, the comedy-drama “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” was presented by Chicago’s prestigious Steppenwolf Theatre.  Following rave reviews and an extended run in Chicago, the play was presented successfully in Boston and Los Angeles, and then Off-Broadway in New York at the Promenade Theatre, to nationwide critical and audience acclaim.  It has since been, and continues to be, mounted in productions worldwide.  “WASP” a one act play that Martin wrote, was first performed at the Public Theatre in NY in 1995.   “The Underpants,” a dark comedy Martin adapted from the 1911 play by Carl Sterneim, premiered Off-Broadway at the Classic Stage Company on April 4, 2002.

 

In 1996, Martin was honored with a retrospective of his work, by the American Film Institute’s Third Decade Council at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival.  He was also presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the ceremony.  In 2004 Martin was honored for his film work by the American Cinematheque. 

 

A selection of paintings from his extensive, private, modern art collection was given a special exhibition at the Bellagio Hotel gallery in Las Vegas in 2000, with catalog notes written for the show by him.

 

After the success of his first novella Shopgirl, Martin’s second novella, The Pleasure of My Company, published by Hyperion, once again was ranked on bestseller lists around the country, including the New York Times.  He has written a bestselling collection of comic pieces, Pure Drivel, and his work frequently appears in The New Yorker and the New York Times.

 

He lives in New York City and Los Angeles. 

 

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