Loyal fans wonder when Martin Short will become a star

September 03, 1991|By Orange County Register

The question among Martin Short boosters was never if the comic actor's star would ascend and the rest of the world would discover what they've known all along. The question was when.

Mr. Short's fans -- many of whom have followed him since his "SCTV" days, or perhaps discovered him on "Saturday Night Live" or one of his many television specials -- thought for sure that Mr. Short and Hollywood were a perfect match.

Five films and five years later, they continue to wait for Mr. Short to take his place among the comic elite, who command seven-figure salaries and superstar status. His new comedy, "Pure Luck," held a modest ninth place in last weekend's earnings.

The only person who isn't impatient with the pace of Mr. Short's career is the comedian himself.

"I realize it's a compliment that so many people want to see me succeed in movies but I'm quite satisfied with how things have gone since I arrived in Hollywood," Mr. Short said last week. "I think the impatience that some people feel demonstrates a certain show business naivete.

"Maybe they don't understand how Hollywood works. This is a very cautious town and Hollywood people don't hand stardom over to you for no good reason."

The Canadian-born Short, said he learned how Hollywood works after he left "Saturday Night Live" following the 1984 TV season.

"I came out here at the invitation of several studios and was told that I was the hottest guy in town," Mr. Short said. "Every major studio wanted to sign me to a long-term contract but I decided to stay independent so I could pick and choose among all the great comedy scripts that were going to come my way.

"So I waited and the first script they brought me was 'Hot to Trot.' I said: 'This is what I waited for? A talking horse? This is what Hollywood gives to the hottest guy in town?'

"I thought they couldn't possibly be serious about this, but eventually I realized that this was Hollywood's idea of a hot script, particularly in a world of talking babies.

"At that point, I knew that stardom, if it ever did come, wouldn't come fast. I would just have to be patient and do the scripts that interested me."

Mr. Short's first film role was in "Three Amigos!" in which he co-starred with Chevy Chase and Steve Martin. Some critics suggested at the time that he blew the other two amigos off the screen.

He followed that debut effort with "Innerspace," "Cross My Heart," "Three Fugitives" and "The Big Picture." In his next film, "Clifford," Mr. Short plays a 10-year-old boy.

In "Pure Luck," Mr. Short stars as Eugene Proctor, an unlucky accountant who is enlisted to help find the missing daughter of his wealthy boss. She's the second most unlucky person in the world, and the powers-that-be figure that it takes one to find one.

Danny Glover co-stars as a private detective, but his real job in this movie is playing straight man to Mr. Short, who may have found his most physically comedic role to date.

"All my life I've watched the physical comedy of people like Stan Laurel, Charlie Chaplin, Harpo Marx, Dick Van Dyke, Jerry Lewis and Curly Howard.

"There was a time when all Hollywood made were physical comedies. But now you have to seek them out, and that's what I did with 'Pure Luck.' It was a rare chance to get physical with my comedy and I took it.

"The possibility that it might help make me a star never crossed my mind. It interested me and that was enough."

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