Steve Martin Objects to Abuse Accusations from ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ Co-Star

Miriam Margolyes alleges that she was ‘repeatedly punched, slapped and knocked down by an unlovely and unapologetic Steve Martin’
Steve Martin Objects to Abuse Accusations from ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ Co-Star

Actress Miriam Margolyes was a real-life victim of Steve Martin’s sadistic dentist in the 1986 movie-musical Little Shop of Horrors — at least according to the British thespian’s new memoir. But Martin and director Frank Oz have distinctly different memories of what went down on that set 35 years ago. “I have to object,” Martin said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.  

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In the movie, Margolyes played a bit part as a dental assistant to Martin’s cruel Orin Scrivello, and indeed, she gets a “punch” to the chops in addition to a door opened in her face. 

The problem: Margolyes new book claims Martin played pretty rough, according to HuffPost U.K. “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 came home grumpy with a splitting headache.” Martin was “undeniably brilliant but horrid to me,” she wrote.

It’s the kind of on-set violence that, if true, would demand an apology. But instead of a mea culpa, Martin offered his own version of events. “When I first read Miriam Margolyes pejorative account of our scene in Little Shop of Horrors, I was surprised,” read Martin’s statement. “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.”

Margolyes assured Martin that she was okay between stunts, he continued: “There was never any physical contact between her and me, accidental or otherwise, in this scene or any other we shot.”

That’s quite a he said/she said, but Martin said don’t just take his word for it. There were plenty of cast and crew members on set to witness the actual goings-on, including Little Shop’s director Frank Oz. He, for one, is aligned with Martin’s memory of what went down. “I always rehearse physical actions in slow motion,” said Oz in a statement of his own. “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.”

The punch Martin “throws” in the completed musical number certainly looks fake, and we’re assuming the multiple people on set might have said something had Martin actually cold-cocked Margolyes. But that’s Margolyes’ version of events, and no one can say for 100 percent certain that Martin wasn’t “unlovely” that day. At any rate, the two won’t be working together anytime soon and that’s too bad for Margolyes — the famously potty-mouthed actress would have been perfect as one more crackpot neighbor in Only Murders in the Building

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