No spoilers here: All we’ll say is that Aaron Dominguez is guilty of totally killing it in his big break as Oscar in Hulu’s latest binge-worthy mystery show. Sparked in part by the current cultural obsession with true-crime, Only Murders in the Building follows all-star cast Steve Martin, Martin Short, Selena Gomez alongside Dominguez as they try to untangle a complicated web of lies wrapped around — you guessed it — a murder, in a New York City building.
We connected with Dominguez to spill some secrets of his own, starting with how he managed to show off his razor-sharp acting chops alongside some of TV and film’s greatest.
OMITB is a kind of dramedy — what was it like to go from a more serious mood to, at other times, more chaotic or comedic acting in the space of just one scene?
Nerve-wracking! Funny is a challenge, at least for me it was. I say that because this was technically my first comedic role/project. Comedy is something I’ve steered away from; the fear of how hard it is to make someone genuinely laugh has never allowed me to say yes. Yes to failing or succeeding in it. So imagine this show ebbs and flows in the comedic and dramatic!
I just had to remain in the dance of it all, as long as I swayed with the scene and let the text guide me. I knew I was OK because the writing was just that good! I told myself to just take it one scene at a time. Shout-out to our showrunner [John Hoffman] and the writer’s room.
How was dealing with COVID filming circumstances? Were you able to do anything to relax and get to know the rest of the cast?
Oh man, that was a huge adjustment we all had to get accustomed to. I was lucky enough to have worked on a show a few months prior to filming OMITB, so I kind of had a feel and an idea for what it would be like, but man was I wrong. This show was on a much bigger scale, so it required a much bigger team and that called for more safety regulations and protocols to follow. It sucked at times since we couldn’t really hang out with the cast and crew as often as we’re used to and build a kind of family vibe on set. But that was what was needed to keep us all safe and healthy, so shoutout to all of our COVID-19 officers and the team for being so amazing and patient with us. Although, we still found ways to connect with one another.
Funny story: The first time Selena and I hung out to run lines, a nasty snowstorm hit and I got snowed in. It was the perfect way to create a bond as the time during the storm was filled with scene work and board games we played with her friends. I found out very quickly how competitive she is, and also how kind and caring she can be. With Marty we bonded over singing Frank Sinatra classics all the time, and with Steve it was over his wonderful banjo playing or constant bits he was trying on all of us.
Speaking of which, the show brings together a bunch of heavy hitters. What was it like working with your co-stars? Did you learn anything valuable from such a talented group?
It was the experience of a lifetime. You’ve got Steve and Marty with 40 plus years of success and friendship, which is nothing short of legendary. To have worked consistently for that long is only by design; it’s essentially two artists who have mastered their crafts. And then you have Selena, who’s been at it since she was a child, and is still having massive success in different areas of her life; that’s also by design. I mean have you seen Wizards of Waverly Place? Her comedic timing in that is brilliant and at such a young age. I just tried to be a sponge every time I got to work.
From the way they approached the work to life lessons, I tried to soak it all in and be as present as I could every day. Because ultimately, I want to work for as long as I can, and that kind of longevity can only be paired with the type of work ethic they all carried and approached the work with day in and day out.
You had brushes with both fandom and paparazzi during the making of this series. What was that experience like?
Ehh you know, it is what it is. I don’t personally have a problem with it so long as it’s not negative in any way. Fandom at times can be very toxic but other times really sweet and positive so you have to take the good with the bad when it comes to what we do, I guess. It’s the same thing with paparazzi. I’m kind, friendly and respectful to anyone and everyone and all I can do is hope for the same in return.
When it came to dealing with it on the spot, I more so tried to be there for Selena in any which way that I could because she draws a lot of attention. It was kind of tough trying to work and stay focused when paparazzi are yelling at you and are all up in your face snapping away, which happened often when we shot in the city. She’s a pro, though. But like I said, at the end of the day I smile, give a wink and keep it moving.
What was your favourite moment from the series, either from the production side or from watching the final product?
I don’t know if I have one in specific. I think the entire experience as a whole was wonderful. I have moments I loved. I mean, shooting in NYC alone was a dream of mine since I was kid. As a theatre kid you grow up dreaming of someday working in New York on the stage or in TV/film. There’s a certain allure New York has that no other city has, and I never once took that for granted. To be working in that city and alongside such an amazing cast and crew was a dream come true.
Do you share any personality traits with your OMITB character Oscar?
Yeah, some. What’s interesting is I think a lot of people do [laughs]. Oscar is someone who I think is misunderstood. He’s been dealt an unfair hand in a series of situations that ultimately lead him to go away for a while for something he didn’t do and when he gets out he’s just trying to find his footing in society again and move forward with his life while still keeping a sincerity and kindness to him. So yeah, oftentimes I’ve felt some of the same.
Have you always known you wanted to be an actor? What’s that journey been like for you?
Yes and no. I say that because I grew up watching my parents perform in the theatre. Hell, my parents met in theatre school in Venezuela circa ‘91, so did I really have a chance to do anything else? Ha! All jokes aside, watching my parents perform at a young age made me fall in love with all forms of art and performing. My dad is a ballet/jazz dancer and actor. My mom is a singer/songwriter and actress. My earliest memories of falling in love with the craft and theatre (musical theatre the most) and film come from and with them.
There was a certain thrill and joy I felt from watching my parents perform. I’d be performing the dance numbers and singing along with the entire cast behind the stage curtains or in the front row. So thanks to them and those early memories, it was hard to escape the inevitable truth. There’s a phrase that is used in Spanish, de tal palo tal astilla, which translates to “like father like son.” Also, my parents own their own theatre company, so there’s that.
The “no” part of the answer is due to the fact of the inconsistencies I saw within the creative arts in my family. Lack of work and financial instability were common, and it made for a lot of stress and anxiety, which is something I didn’t want to experience in a family of my own one day. I come from very humble beginnings to say the least. But between not finishing school and feeling lost at some point, I knew I had to trust my gut and go with what I loved and that was performing. And here we are, five plus years later since making the full commitment.
Are you into mystery podcasts?
You know, I’m actually not. But that’s just me not wanting to get my head wrapped around the eerie scary side of mystery podcasts. In other words, I’m a wuss.
What movies or shows are your all-time favourites, and what are you watching right now?
I have a really hard time answering this question because I can never narrow it down to one. I don’t think anyone’s expecting this, but my favorite movie of all time is Moulin Rouge!, so Baz Luhrmann if you’re reading this… I love you, let’s work. Favourite shows all time off the top of my head? Breaking Bad, Friends, Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Office to name a few, which is also hard as hell to do with so much great content coming out nowadays. Oh yeah — Euphoria and The Morning Show! Such good writing. The show I’m currently watching is Ted Lasso — amazing — and Scenes from A Marriage — fucking brilliant.
Everyone on the show has some kind of secret. What’s a real-life secret of yours — even minor — that you can share with us?
Real life secret? Hmm… I wet the bed till I was 16. That’s it. No need to elaborate. Mind you I’ve never shared this with anyone! This is a Schön! exclusive!
What are you looking forward to before the end of this year, in the wake of the OMITB release?
Wow, to everything, to all of it — the good, the bad and everything in between. I feel so humbled and grateful that the show’s been received so well. I’m looking forward to other things that are in the works now. I’m excited to wrap up an A24 film in November and keep working and building off a great opportunity OMITB was for me. Also, music is in the works along with other creative endeavors. I’ll keep you guys in the loop.
Only Murders in the Building is currently streaming on Hulu.