How to Get Cast on ‘Only Murders in the Building’

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Photo Source: Patrick Harbron/Hulu

There’s no mystery here: “Only Murders in the Building” returns for its fourth season on Aug. 27. Starring comedians Steve Martin and Martin Short, along with singer-actress Selena Gomez (and a slew of A-list guests!), Hulu’s hit original series follows amateur detectives as they band together to solve multiple murder mysteries within the walls of their NYC apartment building. But there’s nothing amateur about this cast.

From industry veterans to rising stars, the “Only Murders in the Building” cast features so much talent it’s almost criminal. Could you be the next character to take up residence in the Arconia? Our in-depth guide has everything you need to know about joining the series, including insight into the casting process and advice from the talented cast and crew.

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What is “Only Murders in the Building” about?

Brought together by the suspicious murder of their neighbor, Tim Kono (Julian Cihi)—and their love of true crime podcasts—Charles-Haden Savage (Steve Martin), Oliver Putnam (Martin Short), and Mabel Mora (Selena Gomez) chronicle their sleuthing in a podcast of their own as they search for the murderer within the walls of the Arconia apartment building. But as they put the last piece of the puzzle into place, another murder lands the trio in jail. While they aren’t the prime suspects, they soon discover who’s at the heart of Bunny Folger’s tragic demise, throwing a party that ultimately exposes the shocking culprits. Season 2’s finale, of course, sets up Season 3’s time jump, which sees actor Ben Glenroy (Paul Rudd) seemingly fall dead onstage at the premiere of Oliver’s play, “Death Rattle,” which shutters that very night. Although Ben’s story becomes increasingly layered as their investigation progresses, Charles, Oliver, and Mabel uncover his killer amid rehearsals for Oliver’s now-musical, “Death Rattle Dazzle!” But while celebrating Oliver’s critical success, Charles’ stunt double, Sazz Pataki (Jane Lynch), becomes the Arconia’s latest victim. Will the trio be able to bring another murderer to justice in Season 4?

“Only Murders in the Building” was co-created by Martin and showrunner John Hoffman. The duo also executive-produce the show—along with Short, Gomez, and others.

Who is in the cast of “Only Murders in the Building”?

The core “Only Murders in the Building” cast of regular and recurring characters features:

  • Steve Martin as Charles-Haden Savage
  • Martin Short as Oliver Putnam
  • Selena Gomez as Mabel Mora
  • Michael Cyril Creighton as Howard Morris
  • Jayne Houdyshell as Bunny Folger
  • Jackie Hoffman as Uma Heller
  • Teddy Coluca as Lester the Doorman
  • Ryan Broussard as Will Putnam
  • Jason Veasey as Jonathan Bridgecroft
  • Da'Vine Joy Randolph as Detective Donna Williams
  • James Caverly as Theo Dimas
  • Amy Ryan as Jan Bellows

And the series has also boasted an array of A-list guest stars over the years, including:

  • Tina Fey as Cinda Canning
  • Paul Rudd as Ben Glenroy
  • Meryl Streep as Loretta Durkin
  • Shirley MacLaine as Leonora Folger/Rose Cooper
  • Jane Lynch as Sazz Pataki
  • Cara Delevingne as Alice Banks
  • Nathan Lane as Teddy Dimas
  • Jesse Williams as Tobert
  • Ashley Park as Kimber Min
  • Amy Schumer as Herself
  • Sting as Himself
  • Matthew Broderick as Himself

And Season 4 promises to add to said roster, with Eugene Levy, Zach Galifianakis, Eva Longoria, Kumail Nanjiani, Molly Shannon, Richard Kind, and Melissa McCarthy slated to guest-star.

Only Murders in the Building

Who is the casting director for “Only Murders in the Building”?

Tiffany Little Canfield, Bernard Telsey, and Destiny Lilly of the Telsey Office make up the “Only Murders in the Building” central casting team. With so many big names attached to this project, Canfield told Vanity Fair that logistics were a major concern. 

“The tricky part of casting [‘Only Murders in the Building’] is so much of our cast that is crucially important is our guest cast—which definitely [makes] a financial difference in a big way,” she explained. “It also has a scheduling difference, because when someone’s a guest cast [member], you are working with them [based on] their professional availability. Their full-time job is not your show, and you’re not paying them enough for it to be their full-time job. But in our show, the challenge was, with a murder mystery, you can’t lose anybody!” And with guests like Tina Fey, Meryl Streep, Paul Rudd, and Nathan Lane all playing small but crucial roles throughout the show, losing any of these players would’ve been a crime.

Only Murders in the Building

How does the casting process work for “Only Murders in the Building”?

In an interview with us, Hoffman discussed the decision to cast Gomez alongside Martin and Short. He revealed that the team wanted to bring on someone who would help the comedy stars strike a particular tone—and Gomez delivered. “We knew we wanted someone unexpected, someone sort of alien to their world. She fits perfectly, because she’s this dry, assertive, cut-through-it-always [presence],” Hoffman said. “I find it so beautiful that these three unexpected people, you’ll very quickly begin to root for. They feel like they’re a little mini family that makes no sense, but that is very watchable. It’s been extraordinary to watch her blossom and develop as a young comedic actress who we all knew when she was growing up, and to watch her mature into this deep role. And the three of them together really are just so funny.”

In the conversation with Vanity Fair, Hoffman said that the team had one critical question when creating the series: “How do we take these two legendary, classic comedians and then put them up against the clash of something New York, being modern now and finding that classic-meets-modern all around New York?” Gomez, he said, provided their “light bulb moment.”

Hoffman and Canfield told the outlet they felt like “kids in a candy store” when it came to selecting New York’s top actors; but they also wanted to strike a balance by bringing in some unknowns. “I didn’t want it to feel like some variety show…. It was that balance of: You don’t want [the cast] to be all well-known people, so it starts to feel a little gimmicky,” Hoffman explained.

For instance, as Canfield described, Aaron Dominguez (Oscar) had some stiff competition in the audition room, but “there was just something about him that was so charming and appealing, and then also kind of broken.” Dominguez also represented “a whole different feel of New York,” which allowed the team to pursue big names like Sting, as well as lesser-known stage actors like Julian Cihi (Tim Kono).

Beyond Season 1, Lilly and the casting team brainstormed which A-listers they could bring on board. As she told Spotlight, "One of the great things about our show is that, because we have such quality people involved…they’re able to attract other people who want to work with them.” They ultimately landed Paul Rudd and Meryl Streep. 

“With Paul Rudd, we were in Season 2 [and] the question was [which] famous actor can we get to play a famous actor in a Broadway show?” Lilly said. “We made lists. We went through all these people. When we landed on Paul Rudd, and he said yes, we were like, ‘That’s amazing that he wants to do this.’” Lilly continued, “Then, with Meryl Streep, John Hoffman, our showrunner, was creating the story of Season 3 and was like, ‘I have a role that I think would be right for Meryl Streep.’ I feel like Meryl Streep chooses you, you don’t choose her. But she’d worked with Steve Martin before. They were able to get her the script. She signed up and came on board.”

'Only Murders in the Building' behind the scenes

Where can you find “Only Murders in the Building” casting calls and auditions?

Currently, there are no open casting calls or auditions available for “Only Murders in the Building.” Season 4 of Hulu’s “Only Murders in the Building” debuts on Aug. 27, but it's unclear if the show will continue for Season 5.

As you await news about the show’s future, we recommend checking out our guide on how to audition for Hulu so you can be familiar with the streamer’s audition process.

You can also check back here for updates on the show’s future.

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Audition tips for landing a role on “Only Murders in the Building”

“Only Murders in the Building” features an exciting blend of seasoned veterans and industry newcomers—and with that comes a variety of perspectives on how to handle the audition process.

Don’t let disappointment cause your work to suffer. For Dominguez, who played Oscar during Season 1, auditioning got to be a bit more than he could handle. He told us, “It got to the point where I was so discouraged that my work began to suffer. Because of all the pain and the letdowns, I didn’t care as much anymore.” However, he soon found inspiration from one of his closest allies. “Then my agent gave me a valuable piece of advice: Focus on the work, and the rest will fall into place.… Eventually, CDs and studios began to take note of me, even if I wasn’t getting the job. I was doing good work in the room when the time came to perform, and that’s all you can ask of yourself. The rest is not up to you. And in due time, people won’t have any choice but to notice all the time, focus, dedication, and love you’ve put into your craft.”

Today’s failed audition could lead to tomorrow’s starring role. Because CDs often work to cast many different projects at any given time, there’s a good chance that, even if you’re not right for a specific role, good, consistent effort remains the key to future success. “So many of our projects feed other projects,” Canfield told us. “One person gets a job when you’re casting people, but that doesn’t mean one person was good. On every project we work on, we’re constantly learning new actors and seeing actors we love try something new. This happened with a pilot I just cast. A young actor we cast in a play years ago had gotten close to a show that I had done three years ago, didn’t get the part, and now that producer and I are working on a new project. She came in and slayed and got the lead of a series. I don’t know if that would have happened if I hadn’t seen her for so many different kinds of projects and got to see how much range she actually has.”

Don’t waste the casting director’s time—or yours. During the early days of her career, Ryan, who played Jan in Seasons 1 and 2, volunteered as a reader for auditions held by her casting director friend. Along the way, she learned how actors should and shouldn’t approach an audition. “It’s so illuminating how many people have this great opportunity to stand in front of a playwright or director or casting director, and they’re not prepared—they rolled out of bed and just printed the sides out,”Ryan told us. “It’s staggering how many people aren’t prepared. When you witness that, you become very aware—and you would be embarrassed to behave that way yourself, to waste their time and your time.”

Accept that what’s meant to be will find you. Oscar winner Randolph, who has played Detective Donna Williams throughout the show’s run, has endured her fair share of rejection—it simply comes with the territory, as she told Vanity Fair. “It’s unnatural, but you have to get cozy next to rejection and loss. I don’t know if that’s a good skill to develop or not, but you really must love what you do because there’s so many nos. You gotta love it in spite of the nos, and that’s hard,” she said. But Randolph also said she knows “what’s for me is for me,” so even if you can’t see beyond the rejection in the moment, know that your hard work and consistent effort will ultimately win out in the end. “So I let go of the wheel in that respect a long time ago. I don’t fear anything’s gotten away from me. If anything, I’m excited to see what I can continue to attract,” Randolph added. “Being authentic, the right people will always see it.”

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