Steve Martin on How the Fear of Being Washed Up Inspired His ‘Only Murders in the Building’ Character

Awards Circuit Podcast: 'Only Murders in the Building' co-creators Steve Martin and John Hoffman. Also, supporting actress Emmy categories.

Steve Martin Only Murders in the

On “Only Murders in the Building,” Steve Martin plays Charles-Haden Savage, the former star of popular crime drama “Brazzos.” The inspiration for playing a washed-up TV star, Martin tells Variety’s Awards Circuit podcast, “comes from worry. I think about actors who’ve had these hits, they’re on TV for eight years. And then they don’t really work that much again, because they’re maybe too identified with the part. And I’ve always been curious about that life.”

Martin remembers, in particular, an actor he spotted at an HBO Comedy Festival party. The man, who had starred in a hit show, hadn’t worked in about ten years. But Martin, standing about 20 feet away, got curious as he saw the actor speaking, very animated, to a ski instructor.

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

On this episode of the Variety Awards Circuit Podcast, we talk to “Only Murders in the Building” co-stars Steve Martin and John Hoffman about the success of the Hulu series, which is nominated for 17 Emmys this year — including outstanding comedy series and outstanding comedy writing. Listen below!

In coming up with the characters played by himself and Martin Short on “Only Murders in the Building,” he knew they had to be a bit idle. “They would have time older, a lot of you are idle, but that have time to solve a murder, but also lazy enough that they didn’t want to go downtown,” Martin quips. “I’m very happy with my character not growing. They always say, ‘What’s the arc of the character? What does he learn?’ Once you get to 75, there’s not a lot left to learn, there’s only more mistakes. So I don’t worry about those things. [It’s about] being true to the character. If Marty Short is true to Oliver, and I’m true to Charles, then we can’t go wrong. They’re real people.”

Hoffman says he found it a treat to watch Martin and Short get to know their co-star, Selena Gomez, much as their characters get to know each other on camera. “The lovely thing to watch was that relationship develop on screen,” he says. “Their characters mirrored what was happening off stage too. I felt that was authentic to the plan for the story that we were telling, but also mirrored very sweetly, this sort of growing trust that was happening between the three of them. Now we’re aiming towards something that is just electric. And that was the thing you can’t ever predict.”

Martin notes that he hadn’t met Gomez in person before the first day of shooting. “We had only met her over zoom,” he recalls. “I knew she was a professional, like Marty and I are professional, like John is, like everybody associated with a professional, no nonsense. But I thought I’d better look up her credits, because I know she’s done a lot of things that I wouldn’t have seen. And I kept thinking of her as a beginner — but then I realized she’s done as many movies as I have!”

He adds: “We’re proud to have a hit at this point in our lives. We’re proud that it’s good. And we love doing our live stage show too. We’re going to 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 listen for lively conversations about the best in film and television. Each week “Awards Circuit” features interviews with top film and TV talent and creatives; discussions and debates about awards races and industry headlines; and much, much more. Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or anywhere you download podcasts. New episodes post weekly.