Only Murders Showrunner Explains Simple Idea Behind Pairing Martin Short And Matthew Broderick, And It's Brilliant

 Martin Short and Matthew Broderick in Only Murders in the Building
Martin Short and Matthew Broderick in Only Murders in the Building

Warning: SPOILERS for the Only Murders in the Building episode “CoBro” are ahead!

Last week’s Only Murders in the Building episode, titled “Ghost Light,” ended with Charles Haden-Savage, Oliver Putnam and Mabel Mora getting into a fight and going their separate ways. Fortunately, Charles and Oliver were able to patch things up this week in “CoBro,” and all it took was an unhinged Matthew Broderick to make that happen. Yes, the star of Broadway hits like The Producers and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying stopped by one of the best Hulu shows, and Only Murders showrunner John Hoffman explained the simple, yet brilliant idea behind pairing him and Martin Short together.

After unsuccessfully auditioning numerous actors to replace Charles as The Constable on Death Rattle Dazzle after the Brazzos alum quit the production, Oliver finally caught in a break thanks to producer Cliff DeMeo, who called in his old friend Matthew Broderick to take over the role. Unfortunately for Oliver, he quickly learned that the Only Murders version of Broderick is extremely method, to the point that his perfectionistic tendencies are more of a detriment than a gift. As for why Hoffman decided to recruit Broderick for Only Murders in the Building, he started off by saying this to TV Line:

Knowing we had Nathan Lane on the show as Teddy Dimas, and we might have Matthew Broderick coming in playing Matthew Broderick, I asked, ‘Do we dare have Nathan Lane come back as Teddy, to be a in scene with Matthew Broderick as Matthew Broderick?' Then I thought my brain might explode.

Yes, with Nathan Lane having already lent his talents to Only Murders in the Building’s first two seasons as Teddy Dimas, it was only fitting that Matthew Broderick also join the Hulu show, albeit as himself rather than another original character. Alas, this version of Matthew didn’t cross paths with Teddy, although “CoBro” did see the return of Teddy’s son, Theo, who joined Mabel and Tobert’s investigation into Ben Glenroy’s death, but I digress.

Going back to Broderick, Hoffman said the origin of his inclusion came from the need for a “great replacement” for Charles Haden-Savage who would “be a threat [to Charles] and a saving grace [for Oliver].” Furthermore, this actor would also need to “be comfortable making fun of himself,” and the man who charmed the world as Ferris Bueller was game to do this. The showrunner continued:

When you tell an actor that they’re going to be playing themselves, it brings up a lot of questions. He asked, ‘How awful am I?’ and I answered, ‘You’re not awful. You’re annoying more than anything,’ and he said, ‘Ooh, that I like!'

Basically, as John Hoffman put it, it boiled down the following scenario: “What if one of the nicest guys ever just drove Oliver insane?” It was indeed a delightfully creative choice, with Broderick getting way too obsessed with the minutiae of The Constable role and getting on Oliver Putnam’s last nerve. And if all this wasn’t hilarious enough, Martin Short’s character also FaceTimed Mel Brooks, creator of The Producers, to confirm just how much of a pain Broderick was to deal with, with the director of Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein and many other great comedy movies declaring to Oliver, “You’re fucked!” Here’s what Hoffman had to say about Brooks’ inclusion:

[The cameo] was an idea by our fantastic writers, Benton Philippe and Jake Schnesel. I said, ‘That’s a great idea, guys, a fun idea… but it will never happen.’ And it clearly wasn’t going to happen for a while. Then, an executive at Hulu, [head of comedy] Billy Rosenberg, had just done History of the World Part II with Mel and said, ‘I know somebody who’s very close to Mel, and if we can just FaceTime with him, I think this will be doable.’ I’ll never forget that day. [Mel] was letter perfect, funny as hell… We did three takes and he was flawless.

Oliver ultimately decided to fire Matthew Broderick and rehire Charles Haden-Savage back onto Death Rattle Dazzle, with the two friends then apologizing to each other for their respective actions. However, they still have yet to mend their relationship with Mabel, which has become more complicated now that she’s not only moved out of the Arconia, but also restarted the Only Murders podcast without their involvement. As for Broderick, just because he and Oliver aren’t working together doesn’t mean their paths couldn’t cross again. That’s more incentive to greenlight Only Murders in the Building Season 4.

For now, there are just three episodes left in Only Murders in the Building Season 3, each continuing to drop on Mondays. Browse through our 2023 TV schedule if you’re interested in what other current programming is available to watch.