Steve Martin Says He Thought His Dad Was 'a Little Embarrassed' by Him

In his new Apple TV+ documentary film, the comedic actor said his father once described him as 'no Charlie Chaplin'

<p>Apple TV</p> Steve Martin

Apple TV

Steve Martin

Steve Martin is reflecting on his difficult relationship with his dad.

In his new two-part documentary film on Apple TV+ — STEVE! (Martin) A Documentary in 2 Pieces — the Only Murders in the Building star, 78, opened up about how his father, Glenn Martin, regarded his career choices.

"I always thought my father was a little embarrassed by me," said Steve, who served as a narrator in the film. "He couldn’t quite be proud of an unconventional showbiz act that he didn’t quite understand."

The Father of the Bride star said that by the middle of his career, he had learned to use his father's criticism as motivation. "By that time, I had been so sort of alienated by my father that negative comments were actually my encouragement," he explained over footage of himself behind the camera, interviewing Glenn.

<p>Apple TV</p> Steve Martin

Apple TV

Steve Martin

Related: Steve Martin Tears Up in New Doc Recalling a Planes, Trains and Automobiles Scene with John Candy: ‘I Was Weeping’

When speaking about his early childhood at the start of the film, Steve's sister Melinda Dobbs recalled that her brother received "no affection" from their father, and instead endured most of his anger and criticism.

Steve recalled having a happy childhood — but only “outside the house."

His friend, musician John McEuen, remembered getting a glimpse of Glenn's criticism of his son backstage after a show one night. When Steve walked in the room, McEuen recalled, his father said, "You know what was wrong with that show?"

"Anyway, I sneak out. Because there was nothing wrong with that show," McEuen said.

Related: Steve Martin Reveals What Elvis Presley Thought of His Comedy Act After the King Caught His Las Vegas Show — New Doc

<p>Apple TV</p> A young Steve Martin playing the banjo

Apple TV

A young Steve Martin playing the banjo

Glenn didn't even refrain from criticizing Steve when at industry events like premieres of movies his son was starring in.

At the premiere of 1979's The Jerk, which also starred Bernadette Peters, Steve recalled his father being relatively quiet at the end of the film. But at dinner afterwards, when prompted by a friend of Steve's to reflect on his son's performance, Glenn said, “Well, he’s no Charlie Chaplin," Steve recalled in the second part of the film.

<p>Frazer Harrison/Getty </p> Selena Gomez and Steve Martin attend the AFI Awards Luncheon on Jan. 12, 2024

Frazer Harrison/Getty

Selena Gomez and Steve Martin attend the AFI Awards Luncheon on Jan. 12, 2024

Toward the end of the film, Steve admitted that most of his career was driven by the need to have his father's approval.

The actor said that later in his life he took the advice of a friend to tell his parents everything he needed to tell them before they died and he no longer had the chance.

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He came to understand his father better and recognize that he was under tremendous "stress" to provide for his family. "You realize what he went through — it’s a life of hopes and dreams," he said. "I have great sympathy for my father."

These days, Steve said, he has a different opinion of his father than he did for most of his life.

"I like him," the comedian said of Glenn, who died in 1997.

 STEVE! (Martin) A Documentary in 2 Pieces is available to stream now on Apple TV+

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