Meryl Streep 'OMITB'

Meryl Streep’s Most Glorious Moments in ‘Only Murders in the Building’ (So Far)

We just can’t get enough of Meryl Streep as Loretta Durkin in season three of ‘Only Murders in the Building.’

Meryl Streep joins the season 3 cast of Only Murders in the Building as aspiring actress Loretta Durkin. She’s been at it for decades, waiting for her big break that just never comes…that is until she auditions for Oliver Putnam’s Death Rattle. And, utterly awestruck, he asks that question every Hollywood dreamer yearns to hear: “Where have you been?” as if all those other casting directors who dished her to the curb couldn’t spot talent if it smacked them in the face. 

Unfortunately, Durkin’s skills aren’t exactly consistent, making for some of season three’s funniest moments. Yet, when Durkin isn’t making us laugh, she’s filling our hearts with a tender sense of compassion and wonder. So, here are Meryl Streep’s most glorious moments as Loretta Durkin in season 3 of Only Murders in the Building…so far. 

The audition

When Loretta Durkin auditions for the part of The Nanny in Death Rattle, her performance is magnetic. Meryl Streep captivates — enhancing her gestures and pronunciation ever-so-slightly, as is needed for theatrical acting. Yet, she doesn’t overdo it, since she’s on camera on stage. It’s a perfect blending of the two styles that such polar mediums demand: subtle enough for TV but intensified enough for the stage. Her voice cracks as she discusses the role of a Nanny as a stand-in mother, with a little extra dose of silence between each word to capture the monologue’s gravity. It’s classic Meryl Streep. 

Durkin’s tone and volume always perfectly convey the character’s shifting emotional state as she works through an epiphany. From her side smirks to her sideways glances, it’s so Meryl, and this is what we love her for. But, she’s got something else up her sleeve aside from the Emmy (or should we say Tony?) worthy performing she gives here. Meryl gets to play a bad actress…

Let’s try a couple of accents on for size 

During the first read-through for Death Rattle, Loretta Durkin seems to have lost the spark she retained while auditioning. She seems to have misplaced that innate ability to tap into a character. Whether the audition was a fluke or she’s simply caught the yips, Durkin decides to try a couple of exaggerated, nearly-insulting accents on for size. The first is a heavy Scottish brogue that she justifies via her character’s childhood in Aberdeen. The words she utters are utterly incomprehensible as she gazes up at the sky for a “Storm’s comin’.’”She looks above her yellow-brimmed glasses with an exaggerated squint indicative of intrigue and skepticism, as if she’s questioning the clouds. She speaks out of one side of her mouth and proceeds to look at everyone afterward with a deadpan expression — utterly unaware of their confusion. Her decision is so sensible in her mind. Her delivery is so purposeful and on the mark in her deluded perception. It’s gloriously funny. Yet, this isn’t it. She’s got another accent that, in her mind, is totally appropriate.

Next up: French Canadian. It’s overly sing-songy with certain vowels finding extra vowels where they don’t exist. She smirks at the crew and delivers a subtle nod once she finished her line — is she still in character or is she just content with herself? It’s unclear and, once again, she has us eating out of the palm of her hand. “It’s up in the Maritimes there,” she says to justify her choice. She’s clearly done her research, but she has, with such conviction, wrongfully placed value where triviality permeates. 

“Oh my god! It’s me!” 

This may be the funniest moment in season 3 so far. After Paul Rudd’s Ben Glenroy reads his line, Streep’s Durkin looks around at the table waiting for the next actor to chime in. She stares at her fellow castmates with utter assuredness, finally giving a slight nod to the actor next to her to clue him into the fact that it’s his turn to speak. There’s just one problem: it’s her line. 

She is an utter mess. Seeing Streep — who has built a reputation in the biz as one of the best — as a bumbling performer is such a humorous nod to her career and industry status. It’s meta-humor at its finest. She can’t get a line right. She highlighted incorrectly and, as a result, can’t compensate on the spot. This is Durkin — an utter contrast to the actor with over 20 Oscar nominations. 

‘Little Shop of Horrors’ 

In episode 3, Loretta’s insightful nature is back in full swing. Streep shifts seamlessly from the woman who makes misguided performance decisions to the one who sees authenticity and heart where others see lightweight foolishness. She’s talking to Putnam about ‘Little Shop of Horrors,’ which she was lucky enough to workshop. She ultimately lost the part of Audrey to Ellen Green (cue theater reference for our Broadway aficionados at home).

She notes that, though the famous musical comedy features a human-devouring plant, it’s a story about love at its core. And that story will always shine through regardless of the overlay. She explains that all Putnam needs to do for his over-the-top Death Rattle Dazzle to work is find its heart. It’s an incredibly touching moment between Durkin and Putnam that reveals Durkin’s ability to see Putnman for the talent he is. She will be the one to guide him toward greatness. She is the one who will help refine his craft. Where he may instill too much razzle-dazzle, she will help ensure that tenderness and relatability are the thematic undertones. 

This moment between Putnam and Durkin is another tidbit in their cutesy romance, and Streep seamlessly balances her character’s wisdom with her wistful attraction to Putnman. Her desire is almost childlike in its innocence, yet she never seems immature — just hopeful and crushing. Durkin is this anomaly of sorts. An actress who is simultaneously ultra-talented and terribly subpar, remarkably insightful and equally misguided, and totally hopeful yet somewhat broken and forlorn. Yet Streep, with very little dialogue to work with thus far, manages to create a character who feels consistent despite all the inconsistencies — who feels real despite the very larger-than-life moments she carries. 

“Cue the Nanny!” 

And we’re back to bumbling. When rehearsing the show’s big number — “Creatures of the Night” — Oliver Putnam cues the Nanny (Durkin), who walks onto the little stage set up in his apartment and proceeds to sing the words “who goes there” with a sort of yodeling delivery. She swings the kerosene lamp in her hand before hitting herself in the head with it. The scene is mere seconds long, but watching Streep sway her body in the most uncomfortable manner, while also doing so off-beat, is just so scrumptiously silly. 

The show’s refusal to let Durkin stay too long in the ultra-talented bubble or the ultra-disastrous bubble works so well. It makes her character’s entrances unpredictable, making her both a likely and unlikely suspect at the same time, which complements the film’s whodunnit core.  

Loretta Durkin sings “The Lullaby”

Streep has gifted us with her incredible vocal chops in the likes of Into the Woods, Postcards from the Edge. Mamma Mia, Prom, Ricki And The Flash, Death Becomes Her, and more. In short, it goes without saying that getting to see Streep sing is always a treasure and her soft and heartfelt delivery of “The Lullaby” in Only Murders in the Building is no exception. 

Putnam introduces the scene: the triplets have lost their mother, and they’re crying out in the night, but they’re not alone. The Nanny is there to sing them to sleep and put them at ease. Her voice is soft and tender but not wavering. She traverses low and high notes in between meaningful moments of talk-singing — when the lyrics are better left said than sung. When we need to pause to capture the heart she mentioned earlier. We’re back to Durkin from the audition in the show’s first episode, and Durkin (thus Streep) saves this musical. Death Rattle Dazzle may just make it to Broadway yet. 

Durkin delights in a doobie

In season 3, Episode 5 of Only Murders in the Building, Loretta and Oliver finally have a first date at Loretta’s cozy New York City apartment. Loretta prepares a pork chop — but laments that she had to use the oven since her microwave broke. It’s so overcooked that Oliver loses his tooth in the slab of meat. (But let’s not forget his teeth aren’t very used to chewing, as he is a man of delicious dips).

Loretta takes him on a ferry ride, where she has him throw his tooth as they prepare to go under the bridge — for the “tooth ferry…” get it? Yet, it is when Loretta pulls out a flask and a joint wrapped in purple paper that we proceed to lose it. She asks Oliver to pick his poison. She’s got these long gray braids and she’s giving Woodstock vibes as she tells Oliver to open his mouth so she can puff the smoke directly in. They’re like teens, blissfully enjoying a smoke under the moonlight. In seconds, they’re a couple of flower children reminiscing about the good ole days and Studio 54 parties. Seeing Meryl light up a doobie is just something we’re not accustomed to from the woman behind Sophie’s Choice and The Iron Lady; thus, the expectation violation provides shock value and endless smirks. She’s getting to sink her teeth into a zany and sort of wacky suspect — who we come to discover is concealing a dark secret — and we can’t get enough of it

Be sure to check back with Thought Catalog for updates to this piece, as Meryl Streep continues to blow us away in Only Murders in the Building, Season 3. 


About the author

Josh Lezmi

Josh is an entertainment writer and editor at Thought Catalog.