Hello all, this is James Caverly. You might know me as the Deaf character from Only Murders In The Building. I'm here to take your questions for the day!

A bit of a background about me. Born in Michigan and graduated from Gallaudet University in DC with a degree in Theatre Arts. Since that time, I've had a successful career as a stage actor, director, ASL consultant, and yes, even scenic carpentry. I've performed at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Studio Theatre, Kitchen Theatre Company, Huntington Theatre Company, and in 2018, Broadway's "Children of a Lesser God" alongside Lauren Ridloff and Joshua Jackson. I had two appearances in Season 4 of Chicago Med but by far the most successful leap in the industry was playing Theo Dimas alongside Nathan Lane who plays my father.

I currently live in NYC and my instagram is joeycaverly

Here's the proof: https://imgur.com/a/HqP0AFM

UPDATE: Thank you everyone for the questions! I'm gonna log off, have dinner, and celebrate the New Year. I might answer more questions later, but no promises. Thank you all and stay safe!

Comments: 177 • Responses: 34  • Date: 

ResponsibleHistory53346 karma

Are you going to be in Season 2? Or can you not tell us?!

FrogTurtleGhost258638 karma

People want me back in Season 2??

zombrey317 karma

Loved the show and felt for your character. You did a fantastic job. What's it like having Nathan Lane as a father?

FrogTurtleGhost258379 karma

It's surreal! I grew up watching him on TV and now all of a sudden he plays my father? I felt like I was in the presence of a legend

eleventh-hour-253 karma

Hi, James! You were amazing in Only Murders and Theo’s POV episode is my absolute favourite episode of Season 1.

Can you tell us how you were casted for the role of Theo Dimas? Did you have to audition and, if so, and what was the process like?

Also, did the producers tell you about his backstory and his involvement with Zoe’s death before the filming of Episode 7?

I hope we see more of the Dimases in Season 2!

FrogTurtleGhost258251 karma

Thank you! It was a wonderfully written episode.

I auditioned for it and it was the first time that I've done a Zoom audition before. The producer and writer was in the meeting. It was so different than what I was accustomed to but was extremely thrilled when they told me I got it!

Funny enough, the sides they sent me was the bit where the climax of the episode happened. So I already knew my character's fate before they sent me the entire script

I hope to see the Dimases too!

WaterBottleResearch206 karma

Hello! Were the lip reading abilities portrayed in the series realistic? Can you or anyone you know read lips with that level of accuracy, or was it more of a creative flourish?

FrogTurtleGhost258337 karma

scenes that required lip-reading were a challenge. I shared the reality of lip-reading: only 30% can be understood in a sentence. Cherien (the director) and Hoffman (the writer) had done their best to reduce the amount of lip-reading being done by Theo but still kept enough to move the story along.

Nebkreb161 karma

Only Murders in the Building was one of my favorite shows this year and you were excellent, especially the episode from your POV.

I've wanted to learn ASL for a while but I'm somewhat hesitant because in the case where I meet a Deaf person, I don't want to a) presume that's how they want me to communicate and b) try something and screw it up. Any advice?

FrogTurtleGhost258248 karma

LEARN SIGN REGARDLESS. don't be afraid!

Deaf people are more forgiving than you expect

alotabit110 karma

Is there something you are tired of explaining to people about being deaf or something you wish we all knew?

What’s something that you wish was more accessible to the deaf community?

FrogTurtleGhost258238 karma

I wish more hearing people knew sign language. It always brightens up my day when people sign to me in restaurants, bars, or coffee shops.

leandra43384 karma

You did a fantastic job, only murders was my favorite show this year! Are there any shows/movies that you’d recommend that do a particularly good job representing Deaf folks and experience?

FrogTurtleGhost25896 karma

'This Close' on Sundance TV is by far the best in terms of representation. Created by Shoshanna Stern and Joshua Feldman, who are Deaf.

macdoubled81 karma

I noticed Hawkeye featured some deaf characters also, great to see Disney representing! Is martin short as eccentric off camera as on camera??

FrogTurtleGhost258142 karma

he is exactly what you expect when there's not a camera on him.

FrogTurtleGhost258119 karma

Also! Really happy to see Alaqua Cox get her start on Hawkeye! Can't wait to see the spinoff on Echo

Tacked_Eyeball37 karma

So much this! She did a fantastic job with the role and I’m really excited to see her origin story, just glad there’s more representation all around :)

Also hoping to see you in season 2. Side note, it’s super weird you did this AMA today, not 4 hours ago I was excitedly showing my mom the episode from your POV! I loved it and was excited to show it to her, she studied ASL and worked with kids who were deaf so she appreciated it as well!

FrogTurtleGhost258125 karma

I did this AMA for your mom! I saw you both watching tv. Look out your window


AFineDayForScience76 karma

In a fist fight between Martin Short, Steve Martin, and Selena Gomez, who wins?

FrogTurtleGhost258201 karma

Selena Gomez of course. Have you seen her with her knitting needles?

Headdesk_warrior70 karma

Loved the show, one of the best of 2021! If you could only eat one type of dip for the rest of your life, what would it be?

FrogTurtleGhost25896 karma

Pine nuts hummus for the win!

somo4770 karma

Loved the show and loved your character and performance, very much looking forward to season 2!

I have noticed pronunciation in stage acting and to a different degree in TV acting can be overly enunciated or flourished compared to daily conversation. Is there an equivalent to conversational ASL compared to on screen or on stage ASL?

FrogTurtleGhost258123 karma

there is an art to signing on screen and stage. There are many regional signs in the US as well as period signs. It's a matter of research.

There are also many different signing styles--it takes the right training and approach to find the right one for the character I play.

obriensg165 karma

You said lip reading is only like 30% accuracy, but we're going on about 2 years now of mask wearing, esp on film sets where it seems you only take them off to film the shot. Do masks (and btw, I'm not anti mask, just curious) cause any sort of barrier to the deaf community in understanding people?

FrogTurtleGhost258261 karma

Thankfully there are clear masks which makes things much easier for communication. Not only is lip-reading impossible for Deaf people but sign language requires use of the facial muscles as well... having a mask hinders the language.

BUT we should all mask up anyway. The sooner the pandemic goes away, Deaf people can go back to not understanding people when lip-reading :-)

cmv157 karma

What's your favorite type of soup?

FrogTurtleGhost25898 karma

My best friend's homemade Sopa de Res

Alpha-Trion55 karma

Wow, I just finished this series yesterday and really enjoyed it.

What are some challenges you've faced in your field as a result of being deaf?

Did any of your fellow cast members know ASL on Only Murders in the Building?

FrogTurtleGhost258149 karma

ignorance is a factor in this industry... most of the people in this field have very little to no experience working with Deaf actors. Every time I show up to a job, I have to educate the cast and crew as to how to work with me.

Nathan Lane had underwent ASL lessons for his role so he was the only cast member on set who had ASL experience

Globalist_Nationlist53 karma

How funny is Steve Martin when he's not acting?

FrogTurtleGhost258118 karma

He's charming... Unfortunately, I've only shared one brief scene with him before rushing into the next scene so I haven't had a chance to talk with him.

BraxtonFullerton47 karma

What's one role/show that made you want to get into acting, even with the extra barriers you face?

FrogTurtleGhost25862 karma

Nothing in particular. Always loved acting from a young age. I would say that the hook was probably from seeing a tour of 'Stomp' when I was probably 6 or 7

greenknight88443 karma

That charcoal gray sweater with the amazing lattice-like pattern that Theo Dimas wears -- where is it from? Where can I get one??

FrogTurtleGhost25842 karma

I wish I remembered! Sorry

Ryandrew841 karma

I had no idea while watching the show that you were deaf outside of the character you played. Congratulations to you for your accomplishments in an industry that can be stacked against you. I am curious, were you cast in the show to play the part of a character who was deaf, or did the writers design the role that way to include you in their production? Thanks for taking the time today!

FrogTurtleGhost25865 karma

John Hoffman, the writer, wrote the role of Theo to be a Deaf character. When I was cast, we spent some time discussing the nuances of my Deafness and how it influences the character's interactions with others.

ms64040 karma

Loved the series!! What was your favorite part of your experience with the show so far? What are you looking forward to in Season 2?

FrogTurtleGhost25894 karma

I will forever cherish the experience of working with Nathan Lane. He's a lovely person and a gifted actor. He made me feel comfortable on set and open to all the emotions I was throwing at him when we were acting.

I want to see where the story goes in Season 2! The ending left me flummoxed.

ardoisethecat32 karma

Is it hard to get opportunities as a deaf actor in Hollywood? The only other shows I've seen with deaf actors were Switched at Birth and a production of Spring Awakening on Broadway.

FrogTurtleGhost25865 karma

It has its challenges but generally speaking, it's hard to get opportunities in any other careers as a Deaf person. The obstacles that are place before us are numerous and through hard work and dedication, few can achieve successful careers

CaravelClerihew27 karma

When you and Nathan Lane return in Season 2 (yup, I'm not even saying 'if'), will you both have huge muscles and be covered in prison tattoos?

FrogTurtleGhost25838 karma

I want a <O/ tattoo!

(Deaf people will get this one)

dualsplit23 karma

Do you always have an interpreter on sets? Do other actors make an effort to include you?

FrogTurtleGhost25863 karma

I always had an interpreter with me at all times. (except for bathroom breaks. that would be too weird)

OhSoChewy18 karma

Hi! You were great (and cute-hot, mmm) in this. I’ll keep my eyes open for you in the future - and I hope Theo makes a return somehow!

I was very glad to see that the show not only hired you (a Deaf actor) to play a Deaf character, but worked with other d/Deaf folks on that episode. Representation is the most important thing.

I’m curious about Theo’s storyline. You got a ton of juicy bits, but it seemed like the “disability is a tragedy” trope was still at play (whether or not you see Deafness as a disability). The frustration in communication, and in Nathan’s character’s sadness at not being able to share musical experiences in the same way, seemed pretty realistic to me as a hearing person… but that centers a hearing person’s perspective when the episode is supposed to be from your POV. And life is about so much more than “Alas, he can’t hear my records!” So… how have your d/Deaf friends reacted to the episode?

If Theo got to come back, and we saw another Theo episode (or more!), what kinds of things would you like Theo to show that we haven’t seen before?

And if you did end up as more of a villain, or simply morally ambiguous, how would you chew the scenery? What would be your equivalent of the Steve Martin elevator scene?

Thank you for your time and your great acting!

FrogTurtleGhost25836 karma

I can't say what other people thought about that scene between Teddy and young Theo, but what I saw in that moment was that Teddy was trying to share this experience with his son and is going about it very badly too and he ends up hurting his son in the process. Then what I saw in that moment was how Teddy reacted--it was the catalyst of the "protection" instinct that we see from him throughout the entire series.

So I don't think Theo remembers Teddy's disappointment in hearing music, but he remembers the remorse and love that his father gave his only son. He remembers that protective feeling more than the music component. It became a Dimas attribute: the need to protect.

I don't know what I want to see from Theo if he were to come back! There are a million possibilities and I don't know what I want him to do! One thing that comes to mind is knowing how Theo came to terms with Zoe's death. It never seemed to be resolved and he carries a lot of trauma associated with it.

Or another thing I would like to see is for Theo to succeed. He tried his damnest to maintain the Dimas name and the murder but thanks to those particular pesky podcasters, he failed in that singular task. Let the Deaf man win just one, eh?

Elcapicrack18 karma

Hi James! I love Only Murders in the Building, what was the best part of working there? Why did you decide to be an actor? I'm so excited for season two and I hope you're there!

FrogTurtleGhost25846 karma

working with the talented cast was the best part! I hope to do it again soon--be sure to tell the folks at Only Murders to include me.

I became an actor because I was very good at commanding attention at a young age--telling stories, putting on skits, and being a class clown. It was a passion of mine that ran deep and I'm happy to be doing what I love to do.

karmaisded18 karma

Can you give us a tease for season 2?

FrogTurtleGhost25855 karma

I can.

Khandi48917 karma

Hello! I've only had limited encounters with ASL, but it seems that there aren't as grammar concerns/extra words as in spoken or written English. For example, the sentence "The black dog is over there" would have less than 6 signs.

Did that disparity affect you when you were learning to read and write? I hope this doesn't come across rude, it's just something I've always wondered. Thanks!

FrogTurtleGhost25837 karma

i was diagnosed Deaf at 6 months old and was exposed to a bilingual environment early on. Thanks to my parents, my teachers, and my peers, I was able to be fluent in both sign and written english.

hngdman16 karma

I absolutely adore you in OMitB. You brought so much emotion to your part!

What helped you connect with Theo's character? What suggestions do you have for others taking on a role like him?

FrogTurtleGhost25848 karma

Theo's an overly cautious person, he's always using his situational awareness to the highest degree--for him, it's a survival mechanism. I would say that Deaf people have a constant undercurrent of anxiety when interacting with the hearing world--how much information are we truly missing?--so we are constantly aware of our surroundings. That tension is a common trend among Deaf people. I utilized that tension for my character and amplified it as a character covering a dark secret.

TheFoxBride14 karma

Hey James! What was something new you experienced on the set of Only Murders?

FrogTurtleGhost25843 karma

First time I've experience an on location filming before in NYC. My first shoot was in Manhattan in this gorgeous apartment complex. Residents were milling in and out of the building as we were shooting. COVID protocols were in place so everyone had to wear masks and a face-shield. it was like a sci-fi environment.


I'm curious to hear from your perspective, what would be a dream/ideal role to portray for you?

FrogTurtleGhost25848 karma

I would love to be Mad Max someday!

Azsunyx13 karma

If you were to eat dips for dinner, what dips would you choose?

FrogTurtleGhost25822 karma

I would make my own salsa and/or store-bought hummus and tzatziki

MerryWidowMaker11 karma

So if Gallaudet has a theater department, and we have all this deaf talent out there, why aren’t their more deaf characters in movies and tv shows? How can we get more inclusion?

FrogTurtleGhost25853 karma

To examine that means we need to examine how society views disabled people. Why aren’t there any Deaf people working as vendors or at your Bed, Bath, & Beyond as a cashier, for example?

Inclusion in Hollywood means inclusion for Deaf and disabled people in all aspect of our lives.

hukep1 karma

R u really deaf ? Great performance btw ! thank you

FrogTurtleGhost25814 karma


Thank you!