This interview contains minor spoilers for Seasons One and Two of “Only Murders in the Building.”
Have you ever dreamed of being a big-time Hollywood star? Filming scenes with famous actors, getting pampered in your trailer between shoots, followed by a legion of devoted fans?
Well, I’m Minnie the Bulldog, and I’m living the dream. And I’ve gotta say, it’s pretty spectacular.
OK, I’m not a household name (yet). But you probably know me from the Hulu series “Only Murders in the Building,” in which I star alongside Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez. Now, those are names that just about everybody knows. But here’s a behind-the-scenes secret: When we’re on set, I’m the one getting all the attention.
I play the beloved Bulldog of Martin Short’s character, Oliver. In fact, I had a truly dramatic turn in Season 1, in which Winnie was mysteriously poisoned. Not to brag, but my performance definitely helped the show earn a bunch of Emmy nominations this year, including Outstanding Comedy Series. Winnie made a miraculous recovery, so I got to return for Season 2 last summer. And no spoilers, but you can also expect to see me in Season 3.
So what’s it really like being a celebrity Bulldog, rubbing elbows and getting head scratches from the Hollywood elite? Well, you caught me between shoots, so I have some time to fill you in on all things Minnie.
My Humble Beginnings: Some dogs are born into the spotlight, but I had a bit of a rocky start. I was abandoned in Miami, then rescued and transported to Bumper Bulldog Rescue in Long Island, New York, in 2019. That’s where my parents, Josephine and Robert Ciuzio, adopted me into their family. My parents think I’m about 4 years old, but that’s just a guess.
After my parents brought me home, I got my first glimpse of stardom. Josephine and Robert were also the parents of Baby Howard the Bulldog, an actor and model who appeared in TV shows, commercials and even on stage with the Metropolitan Opera. He was my first Hollywood role model, but he passed away just a few months after I arrived. Now, it’s on me and my siblings Barney and Luna to carry on the family legacy of Bulldogs working in show business.
My Big Break: Here’s an acting tip for you: Use what you know. For me, that means using my stroller savvy.
See, my stroller has been my safe space ever since my parents rescued me. I’ve gotten pretty great at jumping in and out of that thing—and that skill is what landed me the part of Winnie.
In fact, the casting team had originally cast another Bulldog for the role—but she wasn’t as good at facing the right direction or sticking her head out of the stroller as adorably as I do.
Mingling with the Stars: I know you’re all dying for some juicy Hollywood gossip: fights, feuds, that sort of thing. But the truth is that our cast and crew get along really well. Steve Martin and Martin Short are really good at keeping me calm on set—they sing silly songs to me between takes. I love to chat (aka bark with) Selena’s dogs, Winnie and Daisy. And Molly, the parrot who plays Oliver’s inherited pet bird Mrs. Gambolini, will occasionally perch on my stroller just to hang out, too.
So yeah, we’re pretty much one big happy family. But I will tell you one little bit of gossip: Martin Short can get a little jealous. One time, I nailed a scene where I had to jump into my stroller, and I received a standing ovation from my fellow actors and crewmembers. Martin threw up his hands and said, “It’s always about Winnie!” Well, duh.
Preparing for Work: There’s a lot more that goes into being a dog actor than you might imagine. My preparations start months in advance, when my mom plays Martin Short’s movies for me so I can get used to hearing his voice.
My mom stays on set with me throughout the day (I get anxious without her around), and I also work with trainers from Dawn Animal Agency when mom needs some help getting me to perform my best.
My mom also helps me prepare for scenes. If one calls for, say, Martin to brush me on his couch, she’ll use the same type of brush on me before the scene to make sure I’m comfortable. And like most Bulldogs, I get overheated pretty easily—especially under the bright lights of a TV set—so mom packs an ice collar to keep me cool and feeling relaxed.
Hollywood Pampering: I’m a very important part of the “Only Murders” cast, so of course I get the star treatment!
I have my own dressing room in the studio, and I get my own trailer if we’re shooting on location. They don’t do hair or makeup for dogs, but I have a special collar and leash that help me get into the role, and one time I had to get fitted for a costume to play Toto in a “Wizard of Oz”-inspired scene.
My favorite person on-set, aside from my mom, is prop master Susannah McCarthy. Her priority is making sure I’m comfortable with the scene, so she always gives me snuggles, kisses and special treats. I wiggle and get excited every time I see her.
Sometimes my parents say being a big star has gone to my head. I insist on having special snacks on set, so mom grills me steak or chicken with sweet potatoes. It has to be the good stuff people eat; I’m not going to be happy with a milk bone. Not to mention, I need my favorite blanket and Nylabones, too.
My adoring fans: It makes me so happy that so many people like to watch me on TV! I’m told that they were very concerned about whether or not Winnie would make it after she was poisoned in Season 1. A lot of them even send fan art to my parents, and one person even made cookies in my honor! Shout out to my #WinnieWatchers!
My Regular Life: When I’m not working, I’m usually sleeping, chewing on something or hanging out with my favorite humans. I’ll hang out with my siblings Barney and Luna, too, but I’m not really into wrestling or playing with them. I’m above such shenanigans. (Hello, star status, remember?) I also like dressing up and going out to eat with my parents; I’m very prim and proper at the dining table.
Awards Snubs: Lots of people say Selena Gomez should have been nominated for an Emmy for “Only Murders.” (And they’re right—have you seen her performance??) But for me the real snub is that there isn’t a category for animal actors. I’m not even allowed on the red carpet! It’s discriminatory, if you ask me. Just imagine how fabulous I would look posing for red carpet pics in a designer collar and my favorite Minnie dress.
Still, I’m grateful that so many people love the show—and that it was recently renewed for a third season. I must be really popular! I haven’t heard anything about when we’ll start shooting again, but don’t worry—I’ll work on looking really cute in my stroller until then.
—as told to Howard Hardee
Minnie’s Favorite Things
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