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Is Theo From Only Murders In The Building Deaf In Real Life?

True-crime stories are all the rage these days, so it was only a matter of time before someone in Hollywood got all meta with the format, via one project or another. That project has arrived in the guise of Hulu's gonzo crime comedy "Only Murders in the Building." 

Co-created by legendary funnyman Steve Martin (who also stars) and John Hoffman, the new series finds a trio of true-crime obsessed New Yorkers (Martin, Selena Gomez, and Martin Short) beginning their own podcast, and quickly becoming enmeshed in a murder mystery of their own when a resident in their building dies under suspicious circumstances. The gang's ongoing investigation has gotten interesting, to say the least, with all manner of oddballs and creeps having already played the part of suspect. 

The latest episode of "Only Murders in the Building" brought an unexpected new suspect into the mix who's been hiding a few dark secrets of his own. Said suspect is Theo, the deaf son of deli magnate and theater producer Teddy Dimas (Nathan Lane). The latest episode of "Only Murders in the Building" found series creatives telling their story almost entirely from Theo's point of view — meaning there's essentially no audible dialogue anywhere, and extensive use of American Sign Language throughout. The effect is stunning to say the least, and it came together so effectively because the actor who portrays Theo is, in fact, well-versed in the ways of ASL.   

James Caverly is a deaf actor on the rise in Hollywood

The actor's name is James Caverly. And his work in the seventh episode of "Only Murders in the Building" is the very definition of show-stopping, with Caverly doing more via glances, glares, and expressive hand-work than most actors do with grand-standing monologues. The episode is, of course, made all the more effective as the other typically chatty characters are allowed virtually no dialogue either, but Caverly's commanding work as Theo anchors the twist-filled 30-minutes in ways even an icon like Steve Martin couldn't have accomplished.

The decision to go voiceless was obviously a massive risk. It pays off because Caverly is actually deaf himself, and could therefore wholly embody the spirit of the episode's silent theater. And yes, the actor's lifelong use of ASL meant he'd have little trouble conveying Theo's emotions sans audible dialogue. Per WBUR, Caverly was born deaf, and is highly skilled at reading lips as well as utilizing sign language to communicate. Caverly apparently turned to acting early on, too, earning praise for his theater work in the early 2010s (via DC Metro Theater Arts). 

While Caverly continues to work in theater, he's recently begun landing gigs on the small screen, such as scoring a two-episode arc on "Chicago Med" in 2018, and now what will likely prove a breakout turn on "Only Murders in the Building." Wherever Caverly's career goes from here, fans of the Hulu hit are undoubtedly dying to know what's in store for Theo.