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Selena Gomez's Eye Rolls and Everything Else to Love About Her Bond With Martin Short and Steve Martin

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Has anyone ever looked less impressed than Selena Gomez about working with two comedy legends?

"Well, this was my life every day for five months," she informed Stephen Colbert on the Late Show last year, pointing to her Only Murders in the Building co-stars Martin Short and Steve Martin. The longtime buddies had, naturally, started hamming it up in their respective ways the minute they hit the stage, firing a barrage of wisecracks about the host's new mustache, Martin assuring Gomez as they sat down, "Sorry, you'll get to speak in a minute."

The singer-actress admitted she wasn't sure how audiences were going to react to their odd-trio murder-mystery comedy (now back for a second season on Hulu) and she was pleasantly "shocked" at the warm reception. Then that quickly devolved into Martin saying he was also shocked by a particularly good review Short received. "Because," Martin explained, "I was there." Short proceeded to suggest Martin had been huffing something out of a bag.

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Gomez, with a wince and an "Oh, Marty" shake of her head, turned back to Colbert, getting the interview back on the rails.

Alternating compliments with good-natured ridicule, guffaws with sniffs of exasperation, pats on the back with eye rolls?

Why, they're family!

Selena Gomez and Martin Short, 28th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards 2022
Rich Fury/Getty Images

"In that we often eat meals together in total silence," Gomez deadpanned after Short suggested that very concept when the pair presented at the SAG Awards in February. (Or "Shag Awards," as Short joked, prompting that now-signature wince from his co-star. "Yes, for as I've learned from you, Marty," she said, "leave the audience wanting less.")

So obviously Gomez has been a quick study at the family business.

Martin Short, Selena Gomez, Steve Martin, Only Murders in the Building Season 2 Premiere
Matt Baron/BEI/Shutterstock

With Martin, 76, and Short, 72, having locked down the roles of comedically sparring brothers over 35 years of friendship and professional collaboration, from The Three Amigos and Father of the Bride to their recent stage show A Night You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life, Gomez, 29, has joined the troupe as a sort of tolerant, bemused niece.

And the People's Choice winner for Comedy TV Star of 2021 has had many opportunities to act the part since Only Murders in the Building premiered last August and was quickly renewed for a second season. In fact, Gomez seamlessly slipped into the role of The Sane One, onscreen and off.

"We have a bit of craziness," she told E! News at the show's season two premiere in June, gesturing to the fellows on either side of her, "and I get to be the ground of it all sometimes. That's fun."

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In fact, the premise of the show—has-been TV star Charles (Martin) teaming with egomaniacal and quasi-delusional theater producer Oliver (Short) and their wary neighbor Mabel (Gomez) to solve a murder that's been committed in their grand New York apartment building and document their progress in a true-crime podcast—rests on that well-oiled clash of personalities.

Gomez's "unique" delivery is "like the third point of the triangle between me and Marty," Martin told the Los Angeles Times recently. "There's this focus that's completely different than ours, in terms of how the lines come out, the timing, the volume. Everything is different. So it's a great balance for us."

And the age chasm between Gomez and her co-stars (the three are also executive producers) not only fuels the relatability of Mabel's "What is wrong with you two?" frustrations, it also enhances the charm of their friendship, which starts as a conditional alliance and evolves into the real deal.

Only Murders In The Building, Season 2, Hulu
Craig Blankenhorn/Hulu

Which sort of mirrored their real-life getting-to-know-you process.

Martin would get "really mad" when anyone expressed doubt about whether she was up to the task of going toe-to-toe with him and Short, Gomez said on the June 12 episode of The Hollywood Reporter's Awards Chatter podcast. "Steve will get super defensive of me and it's really sweet."

But they also acknowledged that they didn't really know how it would go, she added. "Steve said he loved the idea [of adding a woman of an entirely different generation to the mix] and thought it was really fun," Gomez said. "The next part was them hoping I wasn't going to be annoying—and that's honestly the truth."

Only Murders In The Building, Season 2, Hulu
Craig Blankenhorn/Hulu)

Of course, Short and Martin were presumably aware that Only Murders in the Building only benefitted from having an actress with 334 million Instagram followers on board.

"I can feel the cameraman coming back, I'm talking about Selena," Martin quipped on Sunday TODAY last summer as the discussion turned to their co-star. Short told host Willie Geist he thought "it was kind of a brilliant idea" to complete their trio with a youngster. And the generation gap is the point, Martin added, noting, "That's what you want. I don't want to be up talking the lingo of a 29-year-old."

"Just using the word 'lingo' kind of covers that," Short noted.

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Actually, Martin said on the Late Show in September, "There was no generation gap. In the morning she comes out and she puts out our pills, it's so nice."

"That's really sad," Gomez offered.

Ultimately, however, she told Awards Chatter, "I couldn't have been luckier because they called me and I talked to everyone for awhile and I just told them all of my fascination with true crime—and then it happened and I can't picture the show with three men."

And while she got busy catching up with some of their classic movies that she hadn't seen yet, Martin and Short got a crash course in young-people culture.

Selena Gomez, Martin Short, Steve Martin, Only Murders in the Building
Craig Blankenhorn/Hulu

"It was hysterical," Gomez recalled of the day she played Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion's "WAP" for them. "They were so confused—they weren't offended, they were just confused. They were like, 'Wait, do women like this?' Like, 'Yeah, I guess it's a thing, it's a vibe, I don't know." So they're hilarious, they'll be singing Joni Mitchell and I'll throw in some rap music now and then, just to spice things up."

The three of them don't have a group text chain going or anything like that, she told the LA Times, but they do keep in touch digitally. "It is really funny when I do email them because...it's email," she said. "They always sign their names. It's really sweet."

But just because she's adept at the OMG eye roll doesn't mean Gomez isn't very impressed by her partners in crime-solving.

Martin Short, Selena Gomez and Steve Martin, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
Scott Kowalchyk/CBS via Getty Images

In fact, she admitted to the Times, "At the beginning, I was very nervous. And then I got to be a little bit more involved. They made me feel really comfortable. I would say by the second season, I felt like I got a really good groove with Mabel, and in general, I felt more comfortable to ask for their advice on a scene, or if maybe that sounded bad. They're honest with me. It's nice."

Short agreed, noting, "Selena actually does keep a pencil and paper, and she writes things down. And one time I looked over, assuming it was things she'd learned, and the headline was 'Things not to do.'"

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But shtick aside, the bond is real. Shooting during a pandemic will do that to a cast—if they're lucky.

"We actually only spent time together," Gomez said on Awards Chatter. "Thank God I find them very fascinating, 'cause I don't know what I would do! But I love them, and so, I have a great time."

And it turned out she was impressed by much more than Short and Martin's comedic chops, sharp as they are.

Selena Gomez, Martin Short, Steve Martin
Amy Sussman/Getty Images

"They are very sweet and kind and hilarious—and inappropriate sometimes, and it's the best," Gomez said on Awards Chatter. "I just learned so much. And my expectation for a man, to be honest, or any human, is to be as decent as these two human beings are. They have been doing this longer than I have been alive and they are the kindest people."

The feeling is mutual.

Short recalled to Colbert last summer how he first met Gomez in the makeup chair, "and I was struck by this beautiful, engaging and right away charming person. It was a very easy shoot that way, because I think the three of us like to work in great ease. But I didn't know her." He turned to Gomez. "You could have been horrible."

New episodes of Only Murders in the Building premiere Tuesdays on Hulu.

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