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‘Only Murders in the Building’ Cocreator Addresses Fan Theory Connecting the Show’s Killers: ‘Called It Out’

Only Murders in the Building Creator Addresses Fan Theory About the Shows Killers Called It Out
Craig Blankenhorn/Hulu

Only Murders in the Building cocreator John Hoffman shared his thoughts on a popular fan theory about how each season’s killer is chosen.

“It was more coincidental [that each killer has been a woman] in the first two seasons and I think we definitely thought about it and called it out. Charles actually has a line in episode 2 about how, ‘It can’t be a woman again, we’ve done that already,'” Hoffman exclusively told Us Weekly on Tuesday, October 3. “There are little meta games we play every now and then with some of what we’re including [in the dialogue].”

Only Murders in the Building follows three strangers — played by Selena Gomez, Steve Martin and Martin Short — who form a friendship over their love of true crime. The group ends up solving various killer mysteries connected to their apartment building, the Arconia.

During season 1, Mabel (Gomez), Charles (Martin) and Oliver (Short) were looking into who killed Tom Kono (Julian Cihi). Charles’ girlfriend Jan (Amy Ryan) was unmasked as the killer who committed a crime of passion. Meanwhile in the sophomore season, Poppy White aka Becky Butler (Adina Verson) was responsible for Bunny’s (Jayne Houdyshell) brutal death.

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Season 3 presented a new challenge with the trio having to solve fictional Hollywood star Ben Glenroy’s (Paul Rudd) murder after he was unsuccessfully poisoned before being thrown down an elevator shaft. The killers were revealed to be the producers of Oliver’s play Donna (Linda Emond) and her son, Cliff (Wesley Taylor).

Hoffman noted that the writers room always prioritizes telling an engaging story.

“It’s always a task as you never know if you’re going to get more seasons to a television show, but it was a huge task to write a 10-episode mystery. So that part of it is never not daunting,” he told Us. “Protracting that out and looking at it all and saying, ‘Well, we have to ask ourselves the tough questions. What have we done before? What feels new? What feels fresh? What’s the angle on it?’ Ultimately, we all come down to what makes sense for the story that we’re telling.”

Only Murders in the Building Creator Addresses Fan Theory About the Shows Killers Called It Out
Patrick Harbron/Hulu

There was a conscious effort to offer viewers hints which would help them solve the season 3 puzzle.

“We also had ways in which we were dropping clues that were a little more accessible [than] maybe in season 2, where a lot was hidden until the very end. I wanted to give our audience a chance to go, ‘Wait a minute, I think this is what’s going on.’ [I wanted to] give them a chance to be right,” Hoffman continued. “It comes off differently in a way that maybe you thought it would. It’s not played silly and it has this deeper underneath that gives you new insight into [a] character.”

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Donna and Cliff’s relationship also received specific screen time which allowed more context for their relationship. “They are introduced in a fairly ridiculous way — in a broad sort of moment — a bit of theatricality,” Hoffman shared with Us. “The kissing [on the lips] is crazy and all of that, but underneath it there is this core primal thing there. So that felt very interesting to sort of quietly unveil that across the 10-episode mark.”

Hoffman also weighed in on how difficult it has been to prevent spoilers from being leaked due to the show’s popularity. Fans and photographers have often captured various scenes being filmed — including Gomez’s character wearing a wedding dress.

Only Murders in the Building Creator Addresses Fan Theory About the Shows Killers Called It Out
Patrick Harbron/Hulu

“It is very challenging. But every now and then, a rare opportunity [comes up]. Putting Selena Gomez in a wedding dress,” he noted. “Knowing that when we were shooting it she was going to be in a wedding dress, I thought, ‘Well, there’s no way from keeping that shot out. And is that a bad thing? Does it spoil? Does it give too much away or does it bring up great questions? How does that happen?'”

According to Hoffman, most of the pivotal scenes still managed to be kept a secret.

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“You have to be really protective and you have to be very careful. I am a bit fanatical on trying every way I can to just to not spoil the season for our viewers as much as possible. Sometimes like Paul Rudd — who gave so much time in the season in the most beautiful way — is a very busy guy and he had to be in London to shoot Ghostbusters,” the executive producer explained. “So the two finale scenes had to be shot six weeks before we were shooting the finale.”

Hoffman praised the show’s cast and crew for remaining tight-lipped about the finale, adding, “Before we started rehearsing, I had to stop and say, ‘I know I can trust everyone here, but I need to just state for my own self … everything you’re about to see cannot be shared.’ So that’s on a very micro-level just within the crew. You really have to really bring people into the fold of trust that not to spoil and have the reveals be preserved until they’re ready to be exposed.”

Only Murders in the Building Creator Addresses Fan Theory About the Shows Killers Called It Out
Patrick Harbron/Hulu

The newest season of the hit Hulu series dropped plenty of bombshells in the finale. However, Hoffman clarified that the plan for the episodes is always set in stone from the beginning.

“It has to be really specifically laid out early on. [We have] to know the murderer and to know where we’re going to twist our way there. This season is different in a little way. The other part of it is the theme,” he told Us. “It’s a complicated process.”

Hoffman added that real life events have inspired the storytelling approach as well, saying, “The theme of mothers and sons and how that might have different variations for the characters we have [was important]. All of that felt like a weave that we could make as you’re watching the story unfold over 10 episodes.”

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He continued: “It felt personally profound to me since my mother passed away last year and it was underneath everything within those stories. I always want to gain new insight into drastic events within this landscape of murder mystery. Understanding the human components of what motivates and what drives [people] and what human foibles can cause both bad and good things to happen. All of that was in my mind and in our minds as we started shaping out the season.”

Following the season 3 finale, Hoffman hinted that he is excited to build upon the newest death. (Charles’ stunt double Sazz (Jane Lynch) was shot while in his apartment, which presumably means he was the actual target.)

“[So far I have even able to] shape something together that feels very exciting and new for the show and tied in ways that are really important. But [it is] also all new, something we haven’t done before. So I’m excited about that,” Hoffman teased before discussing his vision for the future of the show. “The joy of working on the show is rare and I think everyone working on the show knows that’s rare. So the instinct and inclination is that there’s room here — certainly in what we’re looking at and thinking about for season 4 — to explore something new.”

Season 3 of Only Murders in the Building is streaming now on Hulu.

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