Steve Martin: Fear inspired his only murders in building character

In Only Murders in the Building, Steve Martin plays Charles-Haden Savage, former star of the popular crime drama Brazzos. The inspiration for the role of a shabby TV star, Martin tells the Variety’s Awards Circuit Podcast, “comes from concern. I think of actors who have had these hits, they’ve been on TV for eight years. And then again, they don’t work that much because they might identify too much with the role. And I’ve always been curious about this life.”

Martin particularly remembers one actor he saw at an HBO Comedy Festival party. The man who starred in a hit series hadn’t worked for about ten years. But Martin, standing about 20 feet away, became curious to see the actor speaking very animatedly to a ski instructor.

“So I walk over and I say, ‘I have to ask you, what are you talking about?’ And the actor turned to me and said, “These scripts today!” he laughs.

In this episode of the Variety Awards Circuit Podcast, we join Steve Martin and John Hoffman, co-stars of Only Murders in the Building, to discuss the success of the Hulu series, which is nominated for 17 Emmys this year, including Outstanding Comedy series and outstanding comedy writing. Listen below!

When he came up with the characters he and Martin Short would play in Only Murders in the Building, he knew they had to be a little lazy. “They would have time to get older, a lot of you are idle, but you have time to solve a murder, but also lazy enough that you didn’t want to go downtown,” jokes Martin. “I’m very happy that my character isn’t growing. They always say, “What is the character’s arc? What is he learning?’ At 75 there isn’t much left to learn, just more mistakes. So I don’t worry about those things. [It’s about] stay true to character. If Marty Short is loyal to Oliver and I’m loyal to Charles, then we can’t go wrong. They are real people.”

Hoffman says he enjoyed watching Martin and Short meet their co-star Selena Gomez the way their characters meet on camera. “The beauty of it was how the relationship unfolded on screen,” he says. “Their characters reflected what was happening offstage. I felt that this was authentically in line with the plan for the story we were telling, but also very sweetly reflected that kind of growing trust that was building between the three of them. Now we’re aiming for something that’s purely electric. And that was what you can never predict.”

Martin notes that he did not meet Gomez in person prior to the first day of shooting. “We only met her through Zoom,” he recalls. “I knew she was a pro, like Marty and I are pros like John is, like anyone associated with a pro, no nonsense. But I thought I’d better check her credits because I know she did a lot of things I wouldn’t have seen. And I always thought of her as a beginner – but then I realized she’s done as many films as I have!”

He adds: “We’re proud to have a hit at this point in our lives. We are proud that it is good. And we also love doing our live stage show. We will enjoy it while we can.”

Also in this episode, our Awards Circuit Roundtable discusses the supporting actress categories.

Variety’s Awards Circuit podcast, produced by Michael Schneider, is your one-stop shop for lively conversations about the best of film and television. Each week, Awards Circuit features interviews with top film and TV talent and creatives; discussions and debates about awards and industry headlines; and a lot more. Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or anywhere you download podcasts. New episodes are released weekly. Steve Martin: Fear inspired his only murders in building character

Charles Jones

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