There has always been a theatricality baked into Only Murders in the Building, Hulu’s hit comedy series created by John Hoffman and Steve Martin. That theatricality stems in large part from Martin and his co-star Martin Short, an iconic comedic duo whose work together has graced both screen and stage. With Selena Gomez grounding the pair’s antics with her dry sense of humor and more contemporary sensibilities, Only Murders in the Building emerges as a show uniquely suited for audiences of today.
It is no wonder then that the show has been widely acclaimed amongst critics and fans alike. It is also no wonder that actors from all over the industry have expressed a desire to join in on the fun. Casting Directors Tiffany Little Canfield and Destiny Lilly credit their trio of stars with pulling in other big names like Paul Rudd, Meryl Streep, and Shirley MacLaine (just to name a few).
“When you have stars like Steve and Marty and Selena, a lot more other prestige actors are interested in coming to play, which really allows our writers to go wild,” says Canfield. “But I feel like Destiny and I really want to also get faces in there that maybe aren’t quite as familiar, so that the audience can hook into the story, and it doesn’t become what I call a famous person’s costume party.”
Celebrity is certainly part of the show’s allure – Sting and Amy Schumer have already appeared as satirical versions of themselves, and Lilly promises a third cameo is on its way in season three – but the cast’s wealth of talent is undoubtedly felt across the board. Canfield and Lilly take particular pride in the show’s relationship with the world of theater, and the countless performances they have pulled from Broadway and beyond.
“We started working three years ago, when we were still in the relatively early parts of the pandemic. And in New York there are so many great theater actors. It was a really cool experience to be able to present all these theater actors with a TV job,” says Lilly. “One, to be able to get back to work because everyone had not been working for quite a bit. And two, to be able to expose a number of actors that we know really well from theater to TV audiences, and for them to get more opportunities.”
Of course, Canfield and Lilly are proud of every performer they have invited to the Arconia, but the show’s evolution across its three seasons has led to some particularly exciting inclusions. Canfield shouts out Linda Emond, who joined Only Murders this season as Broadway producer Donna DeMeo.
“She’s one of my favorite actors. Multiple Tony Award winner, mostly for drama! Like, real heavy drama. Getting to see her in a comedic role like this is just heaven.”
Canfield similarly praised the legendary Nathan Lane, whose comedic chops have never been in doubt, but whose Teddy Dimas’ heartfelt relationship with his son Theo emerged as one of the most powerful throughlines in season two. Likewise, Cara Delevigne’s work as Alice Banks in season two proved similarly pivotal.
“When you describe the role of Alice, who else is playing that role?” asks Canfield. “Between her activism and her stunning mystery of being a super model, to her genre work that she’s done as an actor, she brings a lot to the table.”
Indeed, Delevigne’s Alice is the first character to expose any sort of weakness in Selena Gomez’s Mabel. Canfield quips that making Mabel appear uncool seemed an impossible task until Delevigne joined the cast.
Of course, Paul Rudd’s Ben Glenroy just might have a similar spell on Mabel in season three. As one of the show’s more high-profile stars thus far, who could blame Mabel for being smitten with the CoBro?
Listen to the full interview below for more details on the casting process, as well as a few more personal favorites from Canfield and Lilly amongst the cast of Only Murders in the Building.