[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for Only Murders in the Building, Season 2 Episode 8, “Hello Darkness.”]
It’s very, very likely that you’ve seen Michael Cyril Creighton on screen at some point over the past decade: The New York-based actor has popped up in a wide range of projects, from 30 Rock to The Post to High Maintenance to Dexter: New Blood. And right now, he’s one of the standout supporting cast members of Only Murders In the Building, playing cat-loving Arcadian resident Howard, who got an unexpected moment in the spotlight during the newest episode, “Hello Darkness.”
Consequence spoke with Creighton for a larger feature about the full breadth of his fascinating career, but his Only Murders journey this season is a fascinating one on its own. “What’s interesting is learning about [Howard] through the scripts. Like I’ve learned so much about him this season that I had no idea,” he says. “When I get an episode, I handle it at face value, and I never really know if he’s telling the truth or not, because I don’t necessarily know the full story.”
This season, he says, “It feels like they really started writing for Howard and for me, and I’ve learned all these little new pieces about him, his hobbies, his job, the fact that he works at a library — I had no idea about that until the episode came out.”
Creighton’s path to the Emmy-nominated mystery comedy actually began after he filmed a small role for the pilot of the upcoming Amazon series adaptation of A League of Their Own, in February 2020. This introduced him to director Jamie Babbit, who would go on to direct the pilot and second episode of Only Murders — she was the one who suggested to casting that he be considered for the role of Howard.
Initially, Creighton was told very little about the character, beyond what was revealed in the sides. “There was maybe a little bit more in the audition than ended up in the final script, so I had some extra little details about how much he loved his cat, but it was pretty close to what we ended up filming,” he says.
But, he adds, “I think the note that [executive producer John Hoffman] gave me in the callback that was so helpful and helped seal the deal was that we did a version where he felt dangerous. We never really know where Howard’s coming from, like if he’s face value or if he’s not. I made this decision that his emotions worked in extremes and he lashed out at random things and then got very sensitive and sweet, sort of like this very salty, sweet character. So playing with that and putting a little danger in him — because we want to think in the first season that he’s a viable suspect for a minute… That was the trick: figuring out the danger underneath the eccentricities.”