“What We Do in the Shadows,” the spinoff series based on the 2014 vampire comedy film of the same name by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, wraps up its first season this month. In celebration of that and the show’s Season 2 renewal, FX held an Emmys FYC event Wednesday and screened the cameo-laden episode “The Trial,” along with the finale.
Afterward, comedian and guest star Kristen Schaal moderated a panel that included Waititi, co-executive producers and writers Paul Simms and Stefani Robinson, and cast members Matt Berry, Harvey Guillén, Mark Proksch, and guest star Doug Jones.
In the series, three vampires — Nadja (Natasia Demetrio), Laszlo (Berry), Nandor (Kayvan Novak) — the familiar Guillermo (Guillén), and energy vampire Colin Robinson (Proksch) live in a house in Staten Island. Waititi, as series co-creator and director, hadn’t planned on appearing on the show, but he, Clement, and a slew of guest stars who’ve played vampires elsewhere, dropped by for “The Trial” to play the Vampire Council who must weigh in on a murder case.
“One of the reasons we weren’t in this show [is] because it’s really annoying to play those characters and be taken seriously as directors,” he said. “If you can imagine dressing like that (points to vampire character) and trying to get the crew to listen to you. I thought I’d left that behind like Rob Pattinson [did]. But I believed in this motley crew.”
The series is unabashedly silly, and Waititi emphasizes that this was the original concept. When they had initially pitched the tone for the 2014 movie, Waititi said, “[Clement] said something very special. He said, ‘The world needs ridiculous shit.’”
Five years later, that sense of absurdity is needed more than ever. That’s also why one fan in the audience asked the status of the long-gestating “Shadows” spinoff movie “Werewolves.”
“‘Werewolves’ is the film that Jemaine and I keep pretending that we’re making. Every couple of years we say, we’re making this new film called ‘Werewolves,’ which follows the werewolves from the film,” said Waititi. “I feel bad to even mention it now because we keep saying it, [but] it’s like a dad saying, ‘Yeah, I’ll be home for Christmas.’
“I suppose we’re just two dads out on the road enjoying our lives and going, ‘We’re not coming home for Christmas.’ We’ll send a postcard,” he added. “It’s not like we don’t want to come home for Christmas. We would like nothing more but we have a lot of shit going on.”
Waititi wouldn’t give any specific timeline, but said, “When are you going to die? Do you have a … deadline before your death? I guarantee it before then. Five years, 10 years? It took us seven years to write the [first] film, so you do the math. That was a sad thing to say.”
For now, fans will have to be content with the “Shadows” TV series. Below are few more highlights from the panel:
Those Anatomical Topiaries
“There were a lot of very specific sight gags that for most of the show we didn’t actually think we were going to pull off,” said Robinson, citing Nandor’s mouth bursting into flame when he says the “God” portion of his citizenship oath.
Simms added, “Related to that, in the episode a few weeks ago with the werewolves, when Josh Lieb wrote the script and wrote, ‘Lazlo in his garden of topiary vulvas,’… we thought they were going to tell us we can’t do it or they’re going to blur it or something.”
“Then we got to the set and they were full-on, like, vulvas,” said Robinson.
The Gift of Gab
Energy vampire Colin Robinson draws in his victims with his endless, draining stories, and apparently actor Mark Proksch ad-libs many of these monologues.“It might not be hard for Mark, but he has a real gift for being able to ad-lib long boring stories,” said Simms. “It is a real skill because they’re not so funny that it’s absurd and it’s not so boring that you stop listening. Most of the long stories that Colin tells are Mark just going on and on and on.”
Proksch added, “I think the thing with Colin is — and this is me just bullshitting — I feel like with Colin, he wants to be friends with [the other vampires], but he has to also survive. And the only way he survives, is by eating the people that you want to be friends with. So I feel like it’s this weird Catch-22.”
Bonus Vampire Content
“We’re not going to release bloopers or alternative versions but… yes, there’s going to be some special stuff on social media that are sort of like short films,” said Simms about post-season content. “We decided we didn’t want to show stuff that’s just, like, leftovers. So any chunk that we found that works as its own little mini scene, we already edited those together and I’m not sure when we’re putting them out, but there’s some really, really fun stuff.”
”What We Do in the Shadows” airs its Season 1 finale on Wednesday, May 29 at 10 p.m. ET on FX.