Steve Martin and Martin Short on how they’ve stayed friends since ¡Three Amigos!

Three Amigos
(Image credit: Orion Pictures)

Steve Martin and Martin Short have been besties since shooting ¡Three Amigos! in 1986. As you would expect, they make each other laugh and enjoy hanging out – be it on stage, films sets or real life, with their families regularly hooking up to vacation together.

It’s no surprise, then, that Martin immediately chose Marty to be his co-star in Only Murders In The Building, a 10-part comedy series he co-created and co-wrote for Hulu (it will appear on Disney Plus in the UK). For the new release, Total Film caught up with the pair to talk about the new series, their lasting friendship, and much, much more. Below is a small snippet of the Q&A, which you can read in full in the new issue of the magazine – available today on newsstands or order the magazine (with Dune on the cover) right here (opens in new tab).

Total Film: This is your sixth collaboration, and you’ve been firm pals ever since you did ¡Three Amigos! What is the glue in your friendship? 

Martin Short: Laughter. When you make a movie, you’re intensely in people’s lives for a few months, and often you never see them again for the rest of your life when the movie ends. In our case, we made a conscious effort to keep this joyful friendship continuing. 

Steve Martin: It really is a similar sense of humor. But the other thing is, we don’t get neurotic with each other. Nobody plays a game. We don’t have: “Oh, you got that line? So I need this line.” We just say: “That sounds like a you line” or “That sounds like a me line”. We really do have fun. Like kids. 

MS: The other day, we were working together, because we’re doing some live shows again. And we’re going over a section, and we’re sorting out jokes. And Steve would say, “Oh, no, that’s better for you. Actually, that’s better for you, too.” And then we realized, Steve had no lines. Then we said, “OK, you have to have a line.”

You guys have such an easy rapport on camera. Does it come naturally? 

MS: There’s a lot of ease. And I think we both work in the same way – that being in front of the camera, and being in front of the crew, is a joyful experience. You know, if there’s a tension or if a director is a prick or something, I shut down. I kind of go, “Ooh, I can’t wait for this to be over.” 

SM: But also, we’ve done it so much now, live on stage, that we have a kind of third persona that emerges between us. We can just default to that when we’re on camera. We know how to fight with each other on camera. We know how to like each other.

Comedy has changed a great deal since you guys started out. Todd Phillips, the director of The Hangover movies, said you can’t be funny any more because this “woke” generation is too sensitive. Do you agree with that sentiment? 

MS: Well, I think that certainly there’s greater wokeness. I often wonder – using The Hangover as an example – if you just released that film today, what’s going to happen? There’ll be some Twitter reaction that’s negative: “Oh, that’s insensitive.” But would the audiences then not go? I think there’s probably an overreaction to it all, as far as the outcome. I still think that film would have been successful. 

SM: Is The Hangover considered politically incorrect? 

MS: There are elements that now you’d say, “I don’t know if you can do that.” It’s considered blokey humor. 

SM: Yeah, right. The one thing that produces fabulous art is when you have to work around something. And I think there’s been great workarounds, and we have great performers who have worked around the issue, or confronted the issue. You know, Chris Rock is a great confrontational comedian. And I’m amazed at the breadth of talent that’s in comedy. I remember it as being really, really hard. These people make it look like: “Oh, yeah, I’m 18, and I’ve already got two hours of killer material.” [laughs] At 18, I was doing jokes from joke books. 

MS: I think what you’re forgetting is that these young comedians have real talent. 

SM: Oh, that’s the difference, yeah.

Only Murders In The Building launches on August 31. For much more from Martin and Short, pick up a copy of the new issue of Total Film (opens in new tab), out now! Check out the cover below, as well as the special supplement that comes with the issue. 

Total Film's Dune issue and special supplement

(Image credit: Total Film/Warner Bros)
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Editor-at-Large, Total Film

Jamie Graham is the Editor-at-Large of Total Film magazine. You'll likely find them around these parts reviewing the biggest films on the planet and speaking to some of the biggest stars in the business – that's just what Jamie does. Jamie has also written for outlets like SFX and the Sunday Times Culture, and appeared on podcasts exploring the wondrous worlds of occult and horror.