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Steve Martin never thought Oscars would honour his comedy work

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Sep 29, 2013 | 12:10pm EDT

Veteran actor Steve Martin was pleasantly surprised to learn he had been selected to receive an honorary Oscar this year (13) because he never expected his comedy work to be recognised by the Academy. The Father of the Bride star will join Angela Lansbury and Angelina Jolie among those feted by the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences this November (13), but he admits he was dreading the worst when he received a voicemail from Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the president of the organisation, asking him to give her a call. Martin is well aware only a few comedy films and performances have won big at the Academy Awards over the years, so he had virtually ruled out the chance of ever striking Oscar gold. He says, "Honestly, this is something I never thought would happen because comedy tends to be ignored by the Academy. I can only think of, well, there's a couple - there's Charlie Chaplin, and I think in recent history it was Roberto Benigni, and you could argue Tom Hanks got one for Forest Gump, if you want to call that a comedy... "But it was amazing because I thought there's really no chance so I didn't really think about it... And then a couple of weeks ago, I got a phone call, a message left by Cheryl Isaacs Boone (sic)... I thought, 'What is this about?'... and I started thinking, 'Oh, I bet I know what this is; this is they want me to be that person who gets up at 5am to announce the nominees...' and I started thinking, 'I've hosted the Oscars three times and now they want me to get up at 5am to announce the nominees who are not me', and now I'm getting madder and madder and finally I call her back and I go, 'What is it?' and she said, 'We want to give you an honorary Oscar' and I was really flattered and deeply moved because the great thing about it is, you can't lose! It's for a body of work so it is very nice." Martin will be presented with the accolade at the fifth annual Governors Awards gala in November (13) and he's relieved the ceremony will be separate from the big televised Oscars next year (14). He adds, "It's not televised, which is actually a great thing. There was a time in my life when I would have wanted to be out there and now I like the relative peace and quiet... You go to a dinner and I am able to invite some of the people closest to me... You make a little warm speech, you don't have to be funny, you can just be sincere."

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