Aaron Dominguez finally solved the mystery of the black box during his Zoom callback for “Only Murders in the Building.”
The actor had logged on expecting a chemistry read with series star Selena Gomez. Instead he met with casting and the show creatives, including writer John Hoffman and creator Dan Fogelman, of “This Is Us” fame. Dominguez didn’t meet Gomez until after he was cast, but any good mystery comes with a twist.
“As we got closer and became friends when we were shooting the show, I asked her, ‘Hey, what happened with the time I was supposed to read with you?’” he says. “There was one little box that had a different name, but it was dark, but that person was still viewing. So I was like, ‘Was that you?’ And she was like, ‘Yeah, maybe it was.’”
Despite the switch in plans, “I was on a high after I got off the Zoom,” says Dominguez. A few weeks later, he got the call that he’d been cast. “I was walking in the streets of North Hollywood, and my team called me. And I remember I dropped down to my knees in the middle of the street, in the middle of a crosswalk actually, and just started crying.”
It’s never a guarantee that any comedy will hit its marks, but with a cast led by Steve Martin and Martin Short (and Gomez), the odds looked good from the outset. The quippy series’ premise is that there’s been a mysterious death within a New York co-op, and three neighbors decide to solve the mystery for themselves while recording a true-crime podcast.
“My first reaction was, wow — this is actually funny as hell,” says Dominguez of his reaction to watching the series. “I was genuinely laughing the entire time.” His role in the series is best described in vague terms, although he’s introduced in the first episode, with more screen time to follow later.
“Only Murders in the Building” was filmed in New York City this past winter, and while COVID-19 regulations made it tricky to get close with his famed costars offset, Gomez invited Dominguez to hang out and establish a friendship that would translate onscreen. (The approach worked — when a photo of the actors circulated this past spring, fans picked up on the chemistry, not realizing they were on set and in character.) “She made the process really easy from Day One,” says Dominguez, who was invited to spend time with her group of friends and connected with Gomez over movies and boardgames.
The 27-year-old actor recently returned home to L.A. after spending the summer in Jackson, Miss., where he was filming a project still under wraps. His name is attached to another film, listed on IMDb as in preproduction — and written and directed by his father, Nicolas Dominguez.
Acting is a family business. His parents met in theater school in Venezuela and acted professionally throughout his childhood in Miami and Atlanta; his father, a professional dancer, toured with Janet Jackson in the ’80s.
“I grew up with the business, seeing my parents do Spanish soap operas, telenovelas, commercials,” he says. “Watching my parents do theater, I fell in love with theater. And my dad was like my idol growing up. You know, I wanted to do everything my dad did. And my mother as well.” Although pulled toward acting, Dominguez was intimidated by the financial inconsistency that often accompanies an artistic life and (perhaps ironically) initially turned his aspirations to journalism instead.
“My dad was always very real with me,” says Dominguez. “My dad was like, you know, to make a career out of this it’s going to take a lot from you. The dedication and focus always has to be there.”
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