Interview: Steve Martin

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Stephen Glenn Martin was born in Waco, Texas on August 14, 1945. Over the course of an enviable show biz career, Steve has evolved from a zany stand-up comic wearing an arrow through his head on Saturday Night Live to a film star making his mark in comedies, dramas and musicals to the point where he now commands over $10 million per picture.

Recognizable for his trademark, prematurely-white, thick head of hair, the gracefully aging leading man made People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful List as recently as 2003. Here, he talks about playing the bumbling, French detective Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther, reviving the role first brought to the big screen by the late Peter Sellers.

BSN: How does the plot of The Pink Panther unfold?
SM: There is a murder, and the famous Pink Panther, a 70-carat diamond is stolen. The reason it’s called the Pink Panther is there’s a flaw in the center that if you look at it the right way, you can see a panther. And Kevin Kline’s character, Chief Inspector Dreyfus, is up for a prize, and he wants to solve the Pink Panther murder. But instead he hires me, an incompetent detective who will bungle it, so he can step in, solve the crime, and get all the glory.

BSN: Was it hard sharing scenes with another comedian like Kevin Kline?
SM: No, we both understand that in order to play a scene, two or three people have to be working together. And if somebody’s trying to hog it, the scene won’t work.

BSN: Would you like to work with him again?
SM: I’d love to.

BSN: And how was it working with the veteran character actor Jean Reno? He’s normally known for action thrillers like Ronin, The Professional and La Femme Nikita.
SM: Jean is such a gentleman, and a genuinely happy person with a great joie de vivre. But he’s also a great actor. And he brought this kind of weight. And here am I, as Inspector Clouseau, kind of dancing around and falling over while he was so solid, and his character is so kind to me. We get along as characters in that way. He kind of appreciates Clouseau, and Clouseau develops this boss relationship with him, but you know that, in his heart, he just loves the guy.

BSN: How did you perfect your French accent?
SM: I had an accent coach, Jessica Drake, who did a great job, I think, with me.

BSN: Do you think the role of Inspector Clouseau suited you well?
SM: It just couldn’t have been more of a perfect match for me. I went into The Pink Panther as a fan. And I was looking for something physical to do. So, the opportunity to play the role was really so exciting.

BSN: How do expect audiences to respond to this movie?
SM: I hope that they just say, “That was so fresh, that was so funny,� in the best sense of the word. I really love some of our gags and our jokes. I love the cast. We had fun making it. I just think they’re going to go away repeating lines and reliving some of the gags in their heads.

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