In her new memoir Oh Miriam: Stories From An Extraordinary Life, the veteran actress wrote of playing a dental assistant to Martin’s Orin Scrivello D.D.S., specifically a sequence in which Martin’s character slams a door in the face of Margolyes’ character and punches her.
“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.”
Her overall appraisal? Martin was “undeniably brilliant, but horrid to me.”
Martin addressed the allegations in a statement to Deadline:
“When I first read Miriam 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.”
You can watch the sequence below.
Martin noted that others were present.
“Also on the set, keeping their eyes on the action, was the highly skilled and sensitive director, Frank Oz, a stunt coordinator, a camera crew, a script supervisor, as well as extras who witnessed the entire, very-well rehearsed scene.”
In support of his account, Martin offered the following recollection from Oz:
“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.”
Oz and Martin have made four movies together: Little Shop of Horrors, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Bowfinger and Housesitter.