The American Film Institute (AFI) announced on Friday that beloved comic and American icon Steve Martin will be the next person to be honored with their Life Achievement Award. He will become the 43rd recipient of the coveted award. Established in 1973, the award has been received by the likes of Clint Eastwood, Meryl Streep, Robert De Niro, and many more.
The criteria to be eligible for the award are quite specific. Essentially, AFI states that the recipient each year has to have made an extraordinary contribution to the art of film, one that has been recognized by critics, scholars, fellow professionals, and the public at large. The honoree’s career must have benefited the “enrichment of American culture” as well, with new rules in place to potentially honor individuals who are still doing that or have done so and are expected to continue.
Martin’s career has encompassed nearly every medium of art for over thirty years, and the actor is now an accomplished and world renowned producer, writer, comic, and author. His discography is equally impressive, spanning both his platinum comedy records and his bluegrass music. Martin is an incredibly successful banjo player, scoring him Grammy wins in 2001, 2009, and 2014. He has actually won five Grammys, though, if you count his victories in the comedy category. AFI’s award won’t be the actor’s first honorary life achievement award, either, taking into consideration his Honorary Academy Award in 2013 for exceeding very similar career criteria.
AFI will be honoring Steve Martin with the Life Achievement Award on June 4, 2015 with a gala in Los Angeles, California. The ceremony will be televised as a special on TNT, which will be its third year on the network after making a shift in 2013 away from TV Land. The gala has been televised every year since 1973, jumping from network to network every few years.
Martin rose to prominence in 1979 with his first starring role in The Jerk, a comedy film that Martin aided in penning, directed by comic legend Carl Reiner. Since The Jerk, the actor has graced the screen in dozens of classic films including Roxanne, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, and Father of the Bride. Beyond his expansive filmography, Martin has also enjoyed much success on the small screen, often being a guest on Saturday Night Live (15 times) and hosting the Academy Awards three times. On top of all of that, he has made appearances on television standards like The Simpsons and 30 Rock.
If Martin’s incredible career through film, music, and television does not impress, his literary side may. The actor extended his writing hand to playwriting in 1993 with his play Picasso at the Lapin Agile. The play ended up having a successful run through multiple cities. Picasso kick started a writing career with great longevity, and one that continues to this day through multiple plays, novels, short stories, articles, and scripts.
AFI’s honoring of Steve Martin with the 2015 Life Achievement Award will be the second time in three years the award has been passed onto a comedian, with Mel Brooks being the last notable comic to receive it in 2013. Though Martin’s outings as a comedian, writer, and musician over the years have been critically acclaimed, most Americans immediately relate the actor to his films. His contributions to film have defined comedy throughout multiple decades and appearances, and as AFI remarked, he’s “an American original.”
By Brett Stewart