Selena Gomez says Only Murders character is 'older version of Alex' from Wizards of Waverly Place
"We would have these freedom takes where they would throw something at me," Gomez explains to The Awardist of improvising with costars Steve Martin and Martin Short, "and my reaction was honestly what I think my character would do because half the time I'm like, I don't get what you're trying to do, but it works. ... She's rubbed off on me a little bit. I love being quick, and I kind of steal Steve and Marty's jokes every now and then. She's fun."
After spending several years of her career focused largely on music, the multi-hyphenate wanted to "take some time for my true love, which is film and TV" — and that's when the Hulu murder-mystery comedy came her way. "I'm not sure I was looking for a series, I was just looking for something in general," she says. "This was just honestly a wonderful surprise. [My team and I] got the material and responded right away, and I thought it was so cool. I definitely didn't think it would do this well but I'm definitely happy."
The series was renewed halfway through its first season last fall, quickly amassing a legion of fans — people tuning in not just to follow the murder case but laugh along with the show's central trio. Gomez, who says Martin and Short have made her feel like "their third amigo," is no stranger to comedy herself, having starred in over 100 episodes of the Disney Channel sitcom Wizards of Waverly Place for most of her teenage years. Even though it's been a decade since that show last aired, Gomez says she "a thousand percent" used skills she picked up on that show while filming Only Murders.
"I feel like Mabel is an older version of Alex in a way," she says, laughing. "I adored being on that show so much. I felt like I did learn a lot. We actually had great writers — we had two writers that were on Friends — and we had an incredible director that we used for most of our seasons. We got really lucky. I still look back at that and laugh at certain things just because I thought it was so fun, and we tried."
Also on the latest episode of The Awardist, EW's Jessica Wang speaks with Pachinko creator Soo Hugh and stars Youn Yuh-Jung and Lee Min-ho. Their Apple TV+ drama, based on the popular book of the same name spans decades, is one of EW critic Kristen Baldwin's picks for best TV shows of 2022 so far.
"This story felt so familiar to us, not just as Koreans, but as humans," Hugh says, reflecting on why audiences have connected with the story of a Korean family that emigrates to Japan. "Especially when you think about the last few years that we've come out of, with the pandemic, there's something about this story, the honesty of it, the lack of cynicism of stories of people we fall in love with that I think was really powerful."
Even Oscar-winner Youn, who admits to finding it "very embarrassing" to watch her own performances, says she got swept up in the drama where she plays the older Sunja. "I really enjoyed other actors doing a really great job, all of them — young Sunja and little Sunja and their mother and father," Youn says. "I just fell in love and I cried and thought, 'oh my goodness.' I became a real audience. ... I was very happy and pleased watching it."
Hear more from the Pachinko team, Gomez, and our thoughts on the reality-competition and reality host categories in the latest episode of The Awardist, below.
Steve Martin, Selena Gomez, and Martin Short team up for a Manhattan murder mystery that involves twists, turns, and Sting.