Steve Martin, who co-created the Hulu series Only Murders In the Building with John Hoffman, stated that he did not intend to make a comedy, but it became one when he joined the cast, which included Martin Short and Selena Gomez.
The show will air on Hulu on Tuesday.
“If you had cast three serious actors, it’d be a very different show,” Martin said on a Television Critics Association Zoom panel. “The comedy just occurred through the writing and through the performances.”
Martin and Short play residents of a New York apartment complex in which a neighbor is slain. They start a true-crime podcast, hoping to solve the killing, and their young neighbor (Gomez) helps them find clues.
“This is one of the most unusual things I’ve ever done because it actually has a plot,” Martin joked. “I usually don’t do things with plots.”
Short and Martin first co-starred in the movie Three Amigos. Chevy Chase was the third amigo. Short also played a wedding coordinator in Martin’s two Father of the Bride films.
Recently, the two comedians performed a touring live show. Netflix aired their 2018 special, An Evening You Will Forget For the Rest of Your Life.
“He and I had never talked about, ‘Hey, we should do a TV series together,'” Short said.
Martin said his original concept focused on even older characters. Martin is 76 and Short is 71.
“I wasn’t even going to be in this,” Martin said. “I sort of thought, ‘Well, I’ll do it if, Marty does it.'”
Once cast, Martin said the comedic rapport he’s developed over the years with Short found its way into the show. Martin said he is happy to let Short get a laugh.
“A lot of times I’ll say, ‘You take that, that sounds like you,'” Martin said.
Short said Martin’s comedy extends behind the scenes, too.
“He always knows his lines, and if he doesn’t, he does jokes about it that gets everyone laughing,” Short said. “Then it becomes a better take.”
In the show, Charles (Martin) is an actor who was famous for a TV crime show in which he played Brazos, a detective. Brazos’ fans still recognize Charles on the street, and the viewer sees clips of Brazos in Only Murders.
“It was very important to play it straight. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be real,” Martin said. “But the strange thing is I played it straight and it looks like a spoof.”
Oliver (Short) is a theater director running low on money as work dried up. Mabel (Gomez) is new to the building.
The 29-year-old Gomez said she was grateful Martin and the Only Murders producers cast her as an adult. Gomez became a teen star on the Disney Channel series, The Wizards of Waverly Place, and now hosts the cooking show Selena + Chef on HBO Max.
“It’s really nice to be back on TV and it’s nice to be cast as my actual age, which never happens,” Gomez said.