Learning from Steve Martin MAG

February 5, 2009
By Shelli Gimelstein BRONZE, New Hyde Park, New York
Shelli Gimelstein BRONZE, New Hyde Park, New York
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

It's not every day that you get the chance to interview a celebrity. Particularly one who's done everything from premiering his own play to chasing jewel thieves around the world as Inspector Jacques Closeau. That's why this amazing opportunity, as well as the interview process itself, took me by surprise. However, I learned firsthand that it is both exhausting and exhilarating – one of the many memories I got from the unique experience of interviewing Steve Martin for Teen Ink.

I was nervous before the interview, and the immediacy of it all kicked in as soon as I picked up the phone. Even asking prepared questions was unsettling – I had to enunciate, and my voice sounded strange to me. However, the process of conducting an interview taught me the important skill of adaptation, as Andrew and I adjusted questions to avoid topics Steve Martin had already addressed or that didn't seem relevant anymore. Mr. Martin filled his answers with personality, anecdotes, and depth. At times I wished I could just sit back and listen without worrying about asking the next question. But I had to keep going – we had quite a list!

One of the moments during the interview that stuck with me the most was when I asked Steve Martin about what he wanted people to come away with after seeing his work, regarding both his new film and his general legacy. Without any hesitation, he replied that he simply wants people to leave the theater ­happy. His goal was to make the audience laugh and enjoy themselves – something that has characterized the span of his work, from his big, well-known movies to his forays into writing, playwriting, and serious films. I learned that Steve Martin, for all his fame and prolific film work, has no pretensions.

After seeing the screening of “The Pink Panther 2,” I had a new appreciation for his versatility and elasticity as an actor, and having the chance to interview him imbued me with respect for his commitment to so many forms of art.

Steve Martin gave us some remarkable insights into the world of comedy and film, as well as his serious side of writing and performing. As a fan of ­entertainment and pop culture, I loved hearing about movies that I ought to see or people whom Steve Martin ­admired or enjoyed working with. ­Additionally, it was fascinating to learn what inspires his writing and what advice he has for aspiring writers like me.

As Andrew and I eased into a comfortable conversation with Mr. Martin, time flew and before I knew it, we were asking our final questions. He seemed surprised and appreciative that our questions were more nuanced and thoughtful than he is typically asked. I'm glad I had this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn about writing and acting from a veteran and master of the craft.

After 45 minutes of intense concentration, I finally put down the phone, feeling a bit lightheaded but very accomplished – as though I'd just crossed the finish line in the final lap of a long but gratifying run.

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This article has 2 comments.

on Apr. 17 2011 at 4:59 am
I loved this article as it expresses what one goes through from the time they hear the news of them intervieing someone great like Steve Martin who is a very versatile actor till the time interveiw gets over. Since, we are considering this article as an interview, it would more interesting and fun to read if it is in an question - answer format. But otherwise, the article was outstanding. Keep it up.

Beorey said...
on Sep. 30 2009 at 11:53 am
I like the idea of interviewing Steve Martain and I thought you did a very good job of describing what it was like. you might want to put it into more of a question answer form to make it look more organized. Good job!

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