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Why Steve Martin Stopped Acting (And Why He’s Back)

Around 2009 Steve Martin largely quit acting, but he’s returned for Only Murders in the Building alongside Martin Short and Selena Gomez. Here’s why.

Over a decade after he largely stopped acting, Steve Martin has returned in full swing with Only Murders in the Building. The new comedy mystery series based on the idea of a true-crime podcast is co-written by Martin and John Hoffman with the former taking one of the three lead roles. So why did Steve Martin stop acting, and why did he come back now?

Steve Martin led an extensive acting career that started in the late 1970s and flourished through the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s. While he specialized in farcical comedies such as The Man with Two Brains (1983), Bowfinger (1999), and The Pink Panther (2006), and multiple comedies with Martin Short, including Three Amigos! and Father of the Bride, he also appeared in occasional more serious roles as with his character in David Mamet’s The Spanish Prisoner. While he demonstrated versatility and had incredible success, after the release of It’s Complicated and The Pink Panther 2 in 2009 Steve Martin largely disappeared from TV and film with a couple of small exceptions for smaller roles as with his character in Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.


Related: Best True Crime Shows On Netflix Right Now

Steve Martin’s large departure from acting was, in its simplest form, because he wanted to work on other things. In the intervening years, he focused on his music career after the banjo player Earl Scruggs asked Martin to play on an album with him. This gave him a doorway into a bluegrass music career that led to him receiving multiple Grammy awards for his work as a musical artist. Additionally, during this time he and his wife Anne Stringfield welcomed a child and Steve Martin has said that he was glad his firstborn came at a time in his life when he could focus more on being a parent rather than on his career.

Steve Martin Only Murders In The Building

Steve Martin’s return to acting alongside Martin Short in 2021 seems to have come from a serendipitous suggestion combined with an unexpected desire to be back in the acting life. Speaking to AARP, Martin says that he was at a party with several other actors over 70 when a producer told him he should write something for them to be in, and that sparked the idea behind Only Murders in the Building. As he plotted his series about older people investigating crimes, he says that he had a realization: “Wait, I’m old – I could be in it,” and with that, Steve Martin returned to acting.

Interestingly enough, acting is not the first career that he has worked in successfully and then left when he was no longer interested in it. In the late 1960s, Martin started working in standup comedy and by the early 1980s he was selling out full-sized stadiums for his shows. Then, at the peak of his career, he said that he felt like he had come to the end of the road and simply stopped performing shows. He made a return to stand-up comedy in 2016 and, as with his return to acting in Only Murders in the Building, did so alongside Martin Short, leading to their Netflix comedy special Steve Martin and Martin Short: An Evening you Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life. Steve Martin has been a stand-up comic, an actor, an author, and a bluegrass musician. The star and writer of Only Murders in the Building might be many things, but he’ll never be a man that keeps doing something purely because the world expects it of him.

Next: Only Murders In The Building Cast, Cameos & Character Guide

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