Stel­lar STEVE MARTIN

Q &A ac­tor & mu­si­cian “When I was younger, I was self­ish and fo­cused on my ca­reer. Now I’m just hang­ing around”

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - David Campbell - In­ter­view by TIF­FANY BAKKER The Crow: New Songs For The Five-string Banjo Cinemas now.

You be­came ev­ery­body’s favourite movie dad thanks to ’80s and ’90s clas­sics such as Planes, Trains & Au­to­mo­biles, Fa­ther Of The Bride and Par­ent­hood. Did you en­joy that? It’s funny, but I didn’t think that about my­self. I did some fa­ther roles, but I never thought, “I’m go­ing to make that my thing.” I’m not an ac­tion star, so I can’t be a guy out there with a gun. Those films are sen­ti­men­tal films and that’s not a neg­a­tive – those were the sorts of films I was drawn to as a kid. Peo­ple re­spond to those films. You only be­came a fa­ther your­self aged 67, in 2012 [Martin mar­ried Amer­i­can jour­nal­ist Anne String­field in 2007]. What are the ben­e­fits of be­ing an older dad? Oh, it’s fan­tas­tic – you have all the time in the world. You’re all set and se­cure in life, and you’re not build­ing your ca­reer, so you have a lot of time. When I was younger, I was self­ish and fo­cused on my ca­reer. Now I’m just hang­ing around the house play­ing with [my daugh­ter]. It’s great. You be­came fa­mous as a stand-up co­me­dian, but you’ve said that when you stopped do­ing shows, you didn’t think about it again for 25 years. How’s that even pos­si­ble? It’s to­tally easy: it was done. When some­thing is done, it’s done, and you don’t even have af­fec­tion for it. It was done and I was on to some­thing that was much more ex­cit­ing to me, which was movies. The stan­dard line about artists who are pain­ters is that you don’t fin­ish a work, you aban­don it, and that’s kind of true. I had painted my­self in a cor­ner with stand-up com­edy. There was no place to go with it. Back in your stand-up days, how did you deal with heck­lers? When I was per­form­ing in smaller clubs, I dealt with them like any co­me­dian does – have a line that puts them down and that makes the au­di­ence laugh. But it de­pends on how earnest they are. If they’re re­ally earnest, you have to get them re­moved be­cause they’re stop­ping the show. If they’re just drunk, that’s a dif­fer­ent thing. But then when I started play­ing big­ger are­nas – 25,000 peo­ple – heck­lers weren’t re­ally a prob­lem. I couldn’t hear them. In the past decade or so, you’ve fo­cused more on play­ing mu­sic with your back­ing band, the Steep Canyon Rangers, rather than do­ing movies. Were you tired of act­ing? Prob­a­bly a lit­tle bit, but play­ing more mu­sic just evolved nat­u­rally. I’ve played the banjo since I was a kid – for more than 50 years – and I used it in my com­edy shows. Then, in the past decade, I got se­ri­ously into play­ing with a band again. I’d al­ways writ­ten songs, but I never did any­thing with them be­fore in my life. And then I put out the blue­grass al­bum [

You’re back on the big screen in war drama Billy Lynn’s Long Half­time Walk, in which you play a bom­bas­tic, power-hun­gry foot­ball team owner out to im­press – and ex­ploit – young sol­diers. Did you use any­one in par­tic­u­lar for in­spi­ra­tion? Well, I didn’t use Don­ald Trump, if that’s what you mean [laughs]. I loved my char­ac­ter – even though he might be hate­ful. I en­joyed play­ing him. I was born in Texas and in my life I’ve met many guys like this and I felt like I un­der­stood the role. When I was work­ing with [play­wright and direc­tor] David Mamet [on 1997 film The Span­ish Pris­oner], he said men like these are so pow­er­ful they’re never thrown. Never. They’re al­ways still. They rarely re­act. It’s di­rected by Ang Lee, the man be­hind Broke­back Moun­tain and The Ice Storm – was that part of the film’s ap­peal? I got in­volved be­cause I was so jeal­ous that Kevin Kline got The Ice Storm [laughs]. Be­cause when I first saw The Ice Storm – it was the first Ang Lee movie I’d seen – I thought, “Who did this movie?” Ev­ery­one was so good and I loved it so much, and then I saw this direc­tor with a cross­word­puz­zle name, Ang Lee, and I thought, “I need to work with him!” Billy Lynn was shot in 3D. Given you’re the film’s el­der states­man, did your younger cast­mates give you the run­down on this new tech­nol­ogy? Thank you for point­ing that out [laughs]. I did one green-screen shot and I thought for sure they were go­ing to put a di­nosaur next to me. It felt like a grand ex­per­i­ment. I’ve never ex­pe­ri­enced 3D be­fore, but when you’re an ac­tor, you don’t care what the cam­era is do­ing. I knew I was go­ing to be high-defini­tion and I knew I was go­ing to be big­ger than I’d ever been on screen – my nose is enor­mous – so I did mod­u­late my per­for­mance down. It was a strange thing, but af­ter a while it be­came se­cond na­ture. You used to hand out printed au­to­graph cards to fans who came up to you on the street. Do you still do that? I haven’t done that since the ’80s. That was a lit­tle thing I did. Peo­ple were puz­zled by it [laughs]. To hear about it, though, it sounds funny. Peo­ple want self­ies now. I’m not sure the younger gen­er­a­tion knows what au­to­graphs are. I don’t think they even know who I am, ei­ther, so it’s not re­ally a prob­lem. Billy Lynn’s Long Half­time Walk is in

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