‘Only Murders in the Building’ Showrunner Breaks Down Paul Rudd’s ‘Surprising and Bold’ Fate in Season 3 Premiere

John Hoffman also reflects on the “moment of a lifetime” directing Meryl Streep on the Hulu comedy


Note: This story contains spoilers the Season 3 premiere of “Only Murders in the Building.” This interview was conducted before the SAG-AFTRA strike and in accordance with WGA guidelines.

“Only Murders in the Building” kicked off Season 3 with a big twist: Paul Rudd’s Ben Glenroy, who was seemingly dead at the end of Season 2, turned out to be alive and well after his on-stage collapse during opening night of Oliver’s new Broadway show.

As the cast of the production gathered to mourn the loss of their lead actor, Ben made a surprise appearance and revealed he had been miraculously saved at the hospital. That didn’t last long though, as Glenroy was killed for real when he was pushed down the Arconia’s elevator shaft and crashed through the ceiling — setting up the latest mystery for amateur detective trio Mabel Mora (Selena Gomez), Oliver Putnam (Martin Short) and Charles-Haden Savage (Steve Martin).

“I knew that we wanted to do something a bit different and surprising and bold,” showrunner John Hoffman told TheWrap. “Paul was incredible and I love him. It’s hard not to, everybody in the world does. But he came on the set that first day with that scene to do and it was the biggest group scene almost ever on the show and, with the people we had involved, you had to really set up the whole season within that one scene and he was letter perfect. He came in and just dazzled us all with take after take after take.”

He revealed that Rudd’s performance in the Season 3 premiere “floored” the entire cast and crew. 

“I texted him that night and I said, ‘Dude, I just need you to know what you did today was wild and we’re all buzzing about it.’ And I think Meryl was like, ‘it was extraordinary,’” Hoffman added. “And he said, ‘oh my God, I’m so happy to get this text because I can’t remember any of it… The only thing I’m focused on is when I said goodbye to Meryl at the end of the day, I kissed her on each cheek like I was some sort of French person.’ But I was like, ‘I don’t think she’ll remember that about the day.’ That is typically him in his sort of lovely self deprecating way. But he was extraordinary.”

Hoffman added that getting to direct Meryl Streep was “a moment of a lifetime.”

I directed the first two episodes with her and I kind of forgot about it until the first day of directing. I woke up and I thought, ‘oh my God, I am going to be directing Meryl Streep today. What the hell does that look like?,’ he explained. “You walk on the set and she has this way of easing the grandeur of her. As she would say, she’s a girl from Jersey. She came to the show as a particular fan of the central trio and it was the most exquisite collaboration.”

He said he was surprised at how Streep was able to “quickly blend in as this incredible piece of indelible fabric in an ensemble.”

“She was just a part of the show and that’s the miracle of her, just as an actress in general,” he continued. “The other thing that I was so marked by was in the first take of the first set up of her first scene on the show, as I was directing and everything and palpitating, we said, ‘OK, we have that, we’re gonna move to another set up now’ and she grabbed Marty and she said ‘it’s good to get the first one done.’ She was nervous and I didn’t expect Meryl Streep to walk on our set and be nervous.” 

Meryl Streep in "Only Murders in the Building" Season 3
Meryl Streep in “Only Murders in the Building” Season 3 (Hulu)

Since the Hulu comedy’s debut in 2021, Hoffman reflected on how the show has become a “very familial endeavor with very famous people,” and that its set has been “a very warm and happy place.” 

“As [Meryl] wrapped her season, she said, ‘it is not like this everywhere’. We’ve had dinners since then and she was over at the house. Paul and I just went on a bit of a vacation with family to [Martin Short’s] place in Canada,” he continued. “It’s beautiful to watch these people you admire, and realize they’re just people and yet they’re wildly extraordinary at the same time. That’s been something I could have never predicted and it goes across the board.” 

New episodes of “Only Murders in the Building” stream Tuesdays on Hulu.