After debuting to rave reviews last summer, Only Murders in the Building, the hit Hulu mystery-comedy about a cross-generational trio who solve a homicide in their Upper West Side apartment building, is back for a star-studded second season.
Following the shocking death of their building’s board president, Bunny Folger (Jayne Houdyshell), Charles (Steve Martin), Oliver (Martin Short), and Mabel (Selena Gomez) decide to produce a second season of their true-crime podcast while piecing together clues to unmask her killer. But after finding themselves publicly implicated in Bunny’s death, the trio are now the subjects of a competing podcast—led by Cinda Canning (Tina Fey) —and must content with a number of neighbors who think they committed the murder. Mabel, in particular, also has to deal with a growing attraction to a woman named Alice (Cara Delevingne), a sophisticated art world insider from London who becomes embroiled in the season’s new mystery.
“I didn’t have time to be intimidated, because I was so just taken aback by even being asked to do it,” Cara Delevingne tells BAZAAR.com Over Zoom from London. “I think they kind of had the character in mind. I honestly didn’t even ask any questions about the character. I mean, what an incredible cast, what an incredible show—it was just a complete honor. I’ve always wanted to do comedy as well, so it’s just such an amazing mixture of all of those things. So even if it was a cameo, even if I was an extra in the back, I would have said yes, to be honest.”
Below, Delevingne reflects on her decade-long friendship with Gomez, the immediacy of their characters’ unexpected artistic and romantic connection, and her biggest takeaways from working with Martin and Short, whom she describes as “two of my favorite actors of all time. ”
When you signed on to this project, you must have been overjoyed to reunite with Selena, who happens to be one of your oldest friends. What do you remember from your first meeting with her, and how would you say your relationship has evolved as you’ve both grown into your respective places in this industry?
I think we met when I was probably 17, 18—we’re the same age. She had me for a campaign that she was doing [called] “Dream Out Loud” way back when, so I was modeling for one of her campaigns. We were in Budapest. We had a lot of fun together. It was really sweet. We got on really, really well, there were a bunch of different models, but I remember we were playing music to each other sitting in the bus on the way there. And then, we met, like, one or two years later, I think, with Taylor [Swift]and we just became really great friends from that moment.
I was just always so grateful, because I think that was one of my first paid jobs, and we just laughed about it so much. I just remember also turning up, and I had a sty in my eye, and I was so scared about being sent back or something, and she was like, “It’s fine, it’s totally fine.” You can see it in the video—it’s very funny.
But, yeah, to come back [and work together again], we both kept saying, “Oh, my God, we’re so old!” Not in the way that we are actually old, but we both have two dogs and we’re in such different places in our lives but still the same people, so it was just so nice to be able to be back with each other and be able to work [together]. Obviously, she’s one of the busiest people in the world, but I’m also very busy, so to be able to spend that much time with each other was just so nice.
Given that you didn’t ask too many questions about the character, how did you approach your portrayal of Alice? How did you come to understand her motivations and the reason why she seems so immediately drawn to Mabel?
For me, I never really play an English role either, which is quite interesting. I haven’t done that—I think that was probably one of the first times I’ve done it in a very long time. Also, there are a lot more similarities to this character than I think I’ve had with any others, but it makes sense. Especially in the art world and especially for what she’s going through, Alice is obviously clearly very drawn to [Mabel], and what Alice’s position is that she’s a bit of like a catalyst. She wants to bring her out of her shell and help her to develop those things, and she’s a very intense character.
I kind of just got into the mind space of what it must have been like coming from London and trying to make her way as an artist, because I am an artist in so many senses, but to have that confidence and sureness of herself to be an artist. She just has this air of confidence and blind ambition. I think that was something that I just tried to set my mind to.
I think part of it is feeling safe with each other. I think there’s a moment where Mabel does not feel safe in the situation that she’s in, and Alice can kind of see that and help her to see things or just be like a partner where they [can] stand back-to-back and look at things together from the inside out. I think Mabel was craving that so much, and obviously she has the guys in that sense, but [she has] someone who’s her age and kind of understands art—and they really bonded on art, talking about anything to do with art, and I think their fascination for that subject probably bought them really close together.
I think Mabel was probably quite unsure of why Alice was taking such an interest in her but also quite liked it at the same time, because it was like, “Oh, wow, no one really asked me these questions about my childhood and about why I love the things I love.” And then, with Frida Kahlo—they just bonded over so many things.
Mabel and Alice have their first kiss in the second episode—and it’s actually Mabel who initiates the kiss. What do you think that scene says about the way they seem to connect on a really fundamental level, and what did you and Selena both want to convey in that moment?
I think you could kind of tell as soon as she goes to the art gallery and they’re walking around, and when they’re talking about the painting that’s in front of them, there’s so much deeper-lying undermeaning to what they’re talking about. You can kind of already feel the buildup within that, in a way, especially when they come back and Alice has this very bold idea of helping her get out of our shell. I think it’s something that Mabel didn’t even conceive [of] or something that she didn’t even know that she wanted, and in that moment, she was like, “Why am I so afraid of so many things?” … She was able to kind of conquer herself. Alice was able to kind of put up a mirror to her and say, “This is something that [represents] your idea of yourself, your ego. Smash it down.” So I think that was something she just felt very grateful for and was like, “You know what? I’m just gonna take a chance.”
I think it’s a really special [relationship], and I think it’s depicted so well. It’s such a nice way of going into it, and it’s really genuine and sweet, and there will be a lot of surprises as well.
What were some of your biggest takeaways from going toe-to-toe with the pleasantly surprising trio of Selena, Steve Martin, and Martin Short in a professional capacity? Do you have any memories or anecdotes from behind the scenes that really stick out?
[Martin and Short] are two of my favorite actors of all time. I didn’t want to tell my family too soon, because I wanted them to see it first, and I didn’t want to tell them first, which is obviously never gonna happen, but they were so excited. [Laughs.] And every moment on set, I was just trying to soak it up as much as possible, and I really saw how they’d affected Selena in such a beautiful way. I could see the comedy rubbing off on them, and she and Steve were very similar, and I was like mini Marty.
She was really Steve, and I was really Marty, because me and Marty would just be making jokes, distracting people, having laughs—and it was just very funny. I was trying to tell Steve I was a magician, and then he was showing me some magic tricks, which I was like, “Okay, yeah, no, I’m not even a magician.”
I think it was actually the first day I came in and I was sitting in Selena’s dressing room, and Marty was like, “Come on, you’re coming with me! I want to talk to you!” And he came in and was being like a dad, coming in and grilling me, and he was like, “So … tell me about your life.” And then, we were talking about games and being Irish and all these different things, and he was asking for my opinion on the royal family, and we just got very close, very fast. [Laughs.] But I loved how direct he was and just like there was no bullshit, there was no small talk, and I love that about Marty. He’s so funny.
You seem to be someone who’s always been unapologetically yourself no matter the medium.
Well, I do apologize, though, because I am English. [Laughs.] But, of course, I know what you mean.
What you drown out the noise of critics and naysayers as you explore other creative mediums like acting?
Well, the thing is for me, if you don’t have critics, then you’re doing something wrong, I guess, in a way. But also for me, [acting] has never been a thing where I’m exploring it, because it’s something I’ve done my entire life. Acting and the creative elements in all of the senses—that’s what has made me who I am, because for me, creativity is the opposite of anxiety. So I need to create as a human being, and just because I was modeling full time before, it doesn’t mean I wasn’t doing it.
So now, I just get the opportunity, and if people don’t like it, then I’m sorry. People are hiring me and they like it, and I’m doing the job as best as I can, to the best of my ability. I’m just so grateful to be able to do it, and it really is something that has taught me so much—it really has. It’s such a wonderful way to express [yourself]and I would advise anyone to use creativity in any way, shape, form—whether it’s dancing, whether it’s any sort of thing that could kind of come out of your body in a different way than just kind of communicating—[because] it’s so healthy.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Only Murders in the Building is now streaming on Hulu.
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