When Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi brought What We Do in the Shadows to theaters in 2014, it posed a simple-ish question: What if a group of centuries-old vampires decided to live together in an apartment in Wellington, New Zealand, and allowed themselves to be filmed for a documentary? The concept of mixing familiar horror genre tropes with modern-day comedic sensibilities and a mockumentary format was a win-win combination for the duo, and four years later, the story was retold – episodically and with its location shifted to Staten Island, New York – on FX.
The 10-episode first season introduced audiences to a new gang of vampires, including Kayvan Novak as house leader, Nandor, Matt Berry and Natasia Demetriou as married vampire couple Laszlo and Nadja, Mark Proksch as the wildcard “energy vampire” Colin Robinson, and Harvey Guillen as Nandor’s human “familiar,” Guillermo.
In its season one finale, What We Do in the Shadows dropped a huge cliffhanger: After pining for the goal of one day being able to live a glamorous undead life — akin to Antonio Banderas’s 500-year-old vampire Armand from Anne Rice’s Interview With the Vampire — Guillermo, the unappreciated human in a house full of vampires, was dealt a huge blow when he learned he is distantly related to notorious vampire hunter, Abraham Van Helsing.
How will Guillermo and his monster roommates deal with this bombshell news? Will Nandor’s human slave find it in himself to revolt against those he’s been serving all this time? And what other types of wrenches will series creator and executive producer Clement and company throw into the mix to keep their bloody comedy series fresh going into its new season? The creatives and cast behind FX’s hit horror-comedy spoke with Rotten Tomatoes during the 2020 Television Critics Association winter tour and teased a few juicy tidbits.
It’s an intriguing position for the character, who acts as the empathetic human entry-point for many viewers into the series. Guillen admitted the change offers a huge level up for him as an actor, and for his character. “My story arc in the first season was basically facial expressions.”
So what will life look like for Guillermo when the show returns? For one, Guillen was given a trainer and workout regimen to get in shape for what was in store. According to the actor, he lost 20 pounds of fat and gained 10 pounds of muscle, working on his upper body to prepare for the action scenes in the series. And while he remains tight-lipped about what exactly those scenes entailed, he does reveal that Guillermo will be involved in a fight sequence and is “gonna jump out a window.”
“I’m glad to report that, even though I had a stunt double who went to work every day and was ready to go in full-on Guillermo costume and everything, he never went on,” Guillen said. “I literally did all my stunts for the season with the exception of one stunt that they wouldn’t let me do for insurance purposes.”
When asked if there’s anything he can tease for the upcoming episodes, Berry, who plays Laszlo, said with a smile, “Somebody from a long time ago in a galaxy far away.” Of course, this is a reference to the addition of everybody’s favorite Jedi, Mark Hamill, to the Shadows mix.
Remember when I told you about a project I really, really, really, REALLY loved but it was under an NDA? Well, @AJemaineClement just let the bat out of the bag & announced I'll soon be visiting my favorite undead family on @theshadowsfx!🧛♂️What Will I Do In The Shadows? #StayTuned pic.twitter.com/M9txUqSRxV
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) January 10, 2020
Clement revealed Hamill’s involvement in season 2 during the show’s official TCA panel but was tight-lipped regarding who he may play and how his character will fit into the grander scheme of things. Co-executive producer Stefani Robinson added, “We have a lot of really great guest stars, and guest stars that are returning from last season.”
In season 1 episode, “The Trial,” What We Do in the Shadows staged an epic meeting of vampire icons, featuring Clement, Waititi, and Jonny Brugh, who all reprised their roles from the 2014 movie. Joining them in this vampire reunion were Lothos (Paul Reubens) from the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer, From Dusk Till Dawn‘s Razor Charlie (Danny Trejo), True Blood‘s Queen of Louisiana, Sophie-Anne LeClerq (Evan Rachel Wood), a daywalker definitely not named Blade (Wesley Snipes), and Eve (Tilda Swinton) from Jim Jarmusch’s The Only Lovers Left Alive.
When asked if the Vampire Council will return in season 2, Clement told Rotten Tomatoes, “There’s a little more Council stuff, but in a different way.”
According to Robinson, there will be witches in the new season, as well. What’s most intriguing, though, is what may be in store for Nadja. “We meet our ghosts,” Demetriou revealed. “We’re undead but we still have ghosts.”
The concept of vampires coming face-to-face with the spirit forms of their former human identities is mind-altering. And the comedy, obviously, is sure to follow.
“There’s also a mage,” Demetriou added. “There’s a necromancer.”
“I get chased out of town,” Matt Berry said. “I have to leave the house and change my name because of something I did years ago. It’s very serious. And who that is that chases me out: I think that you would be impressed.”
As we saw in season 1, Laszlo has explored different means of artistic expression. And while we’re unsure if there’ll be any more references to his adult-movie career, Berry says that Laszlo and Nadja will flex their musical muscles.
“There’s a lot more music,” Berry told Rotten Tomatoes. “There’s a music room, which wasn’t in the last series, where we write songs. So there’s a whole episode with us where you get to hear the songs that we’ve written over the last 700 years.”
“It’s one of those balances, though, that you have to deal with which is, how much of this character should you let people know about?” Mark Proksch said. “He’s a very scary imposter-y type of person. How much do you divulge? Would any of what you give the audience kill their love of the character?”
On that note: "Colin gets into some sexcapades…as American wants." – Mark Proksch 😳
— What We Do In The Shadows (@theshadowsfx) January 9, 2020
His peculiar “ability” makes him an outsider in the show. He’s absolutely a loner, but is he lonely?
“That’s kind of the crux of his whole situation: He needs to be feeding off of you while he’s trying to be a friend with you,” Proksch said. “And there are moments where he’s just trying to feed off of you and couldn’t care less about you. That’s usually with everyday humans, who all the vampires look upon as fools and just a supply of food. His drive is to be liked in an odd way. But also you could argue that that’s a part of his hunting routine.”
— FX on Hulu – Launches March (@FXNetworks) January 9, 2020
What We Do In the Shadows premieres on FX on Wednesday, April 10, at 10 p.m. with the first two episodes airing back-to-back and a new one following each week.