In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Martin said he remembered their time on set differently, noting he took “extreme caution” when it came to filming the scene in which Margolyes said he actually hit her.
“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,” Martin’s statement read. “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.”
He explained that they talked on set, and she assured him that she was OK. “There was never any physical contact between her and me, accidental or otherwise, in this scene or any other we shot,” he wrote.
The Only Murders in the Building star also noted that while they were filming the scene, there were several other crewmembers on set to ensure that the scene went as smoothly as possible, including director Frank Oz.
“I always rehearse physical actions in slow motion,” Oz said in his own statement. “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.”
Margolyes starred as a dental assistant to Martin’s character, the comically sadistic Orin Scrivello. During the musical number “Dentist!” Scrivello punches Margolyes’ character and slams a door in her face.
In Oh Miriam! Stories From an Extraordinary Life, she claims that Martin struck her for real while filming the scene. “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,” she wrote in the memoir, according to HuffPost UK. She wrote that Martin was “undeniably brilliant but horrid to me.”
The claims turned heads when they circulated online Friday, given Martin’s affable public persona that has sustained him during a long career, which most recently has included accolades for the Hulu series Only Murders in the Building.
Margolyes, during her long career, has had roles in the Harry Potter films as Professor Pomona Sprout and won a BAFTA for the 1994 feature The Age of Innocence.
Christy Piña contributed to this story.