WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS is back on FX for its fourth season, with a double-episode premiere on Tuesday, July 12, available the following day on FX on Hulu. The comedy, about a group of vampires un-living in Staten Island with their familiar Guillermo, played by Harvey Guillén, has already been renewed for Seasons 5 and 6.
When we last saw vampire servant by inclination, vampire hunter by heredity Guillermo, he was on the verge of having his fondest wish granted. The vampire Nandor, played by Kayvan Novak, had promised to finally make Guillermo into a vampire when they reached Nandor’s ancestral village. However, Guillermo got shanghaied by vampire Laszlo (Matt Berry), who threw the familiar into a coffin and sent him to London where he could protect Laszlo’s wife Nadja (Natasia Demetriou), who had just been appointed to the Supreme Vampiric Council.
Laszlo, meanwhile, stayed behind, as he’s the only one who knows that when energy vampire Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) died, a little Colin Robinson-faced creature (also played by Proksch, along with some body doubles and a lot of special effects) emerged from the corpse.
Novak and Guillén get together for a one-on-two Zoom interview. Throughout, the two actors regularly crack each other up with their answers, until even the interviewer can’t help but say something facetious. Even so, Guillén gets serious about his rise to gay/Latinx/plus-size icon status, and Novak is likewise thoughtful about Nandor’s take on love.
Prior to this, Novak and Guillén participate in a larger FX-sponsored online Q&A session that includes their costars Berry, Demetriou, Proksch, and Kristen Schaal, plus WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS show runners Paul Simms and Stefani Robinson. It’s not too spoilery to say that everybody finds their way home in the season opener.
Asked by show runner Simms to describe the bond between Guillermo and Nandor, Guillén says, “I think there’s different kinds of love, and they are really close.”
Novak reveals, “I make Guillermo my best man before actually finding a bride, because Nandor’s logic is that he finds himself – he makes someone a best man, and then that best man will help him find his bride. And then they’ll have a wedding, and then the best man will be the best man at his wedding. So, he’s kind of reverse-engineered it, as he does most things.”
Guillén adds, “A whole year has gone by since we last saw Guillermo in a coffin, shipped off to London. Being away from the group, Guillermo realizes a lot of things about himself, and realizes a lot of things that he’s been missing in life in general. And so, they are both after love and comes back with a better understanding, but they still have this mutual love for each other. I think their love is really great and deep, but it’s not always in a relationship form.”
There are some changes to the house this season. Novak jokes, “I was so focused on my own performance that I didn’t actually notice that the house had changed at all.”
Guillermo, being the character most involved with the house’s upkeep, is of course horrified. Guillén, however, is impressed by the work of the WHAT WE DO IN THE SHASOWS art department. “They just did an amazing job. It’s like the detail with the branches. They can see through the floors this time. So, you can actually see through the second floor from the fancy room, which is really cool, because I’ve never seen that before on our set. Aesthetically, it’s really wonderfully done.”
Is there anybody, alive or dead, who has played a vampire they’d like to see do a cameo on the show? Novak wants to know if Tom Selleck has ever played a vampire. If so, that’s his choice.
Guillén, taking a page from Guillermo, says, “I think the no-brainer for me would be Antonio Banderas, and then Salma Hayek.” Guillermo does, after all, have a picture of Banderas as Armand from INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE on his wall, and who can forget Hayek’s Santanico Pandemonium in FROM DUSK TILL DAWN?
On the two-on-one Zoom chat, Guillén and Novak comment on a physical brawl that turns into a swordfight between Guillermo and Nandor.
“Well, we did it already once in Season 3,” Novak observes. “It was my first-ever kind of proper choreographed fight. And then to do it on a bigger scale in Season 4 was pretty awesome. I mean, there’s a lot of choreography involved, a lot of rehearsal. The filming of it took about four nights, and it was a fantastic challenge, and I want to do more. It was really rewarding. Learning the steps and doing all that is something that comes very naturally to Harvey, because he’s an actual dancer/choreographer-type guy. Whereas I’m more of like a barroom brawl, couple of beers – that’s my bag [laughs]. No, I find it harder to learn those kinds of choreographed movements and then make them look real. Whereas when Harvey does them, when he’s twiddling his stick around and all of that, I love it. I think the first time I saw him do that really was when he was part of the vampire[-killing] Mosquito Club in Season 2, which was brilliant. I loved that, when he was going full-on vampire hunter.”
Guillén is also enthusiastic about the combat sequence. “It’s a massive scene to do, and it was so great to do it, and you get your workout, for sure,” he laughs. “Because you run up those stairs, or at least I run up those stairs, several takes and stuff, do it again. So, it’s really cool just to see it all together, and when it’s cut all together, it looks so effortless. And I guess that’s our job, is to make it look effortless, but there’s a lot of training that goes into it, and thanks to our stunt coordinator and director, Tig [Fong], it looks great, and I loved doing it. I can’t wait to do more.”
In between seasons of WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS, Guillen had a role in the film WEREWOLVES WITHIN and arcs on the series REACHER and ZOEY’S EXTRAORDINARY PLAYLIST. Novak was in the feature CRUELLA and the miniseries A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
Both Novak and Guillén are in the voice casts of some of the same animated series, including MICKEY MOUSE FUNHOUSE, HUMAN RESOURCES, and ARCHER. Is this just a coincidence, or is there some kind of coordination involved?
“Absolutely not,” Novak declares. “I refuse to work with this hoodlum any more than I have to.”
Guillén starts laughing. Novak holds out for as long as he can, and then laughs, too.
“No,” Guillén says, giving the actual explanation. “It’s so fun we get to work with each other, all the time, on the set. I love talking to Kayvan, he’s one of my dearest friends, and yeah, we get to play in the world of animation. We’ve done another FX show, ARCHER, together, but we never record in the same studio. We’ll find out later – ‘I heard you’re doing … – and then I’m also on [MICKEY MOUSE FUNHOUSE], where I saw a character, and I said [to the casting directors], ‘Kayvan would be so good.’ He’s so good at voices, you should hear his library of voices. It’s just insane. So, yeah, whenever there’s a role that comes up, which is any role, really, I’m always like, ‘Kayvan, you should do this role.’”
“He does get me in,” Novak acknowledges.
Guillén has achieved icon status at an intersection of Latinx, vampire, body-positive and LGBTQ popularity, gracing film festivals and magazine covers. How does he find this?
“I’m always happy to be at any intersection,” Guillén quips. More soberly, he continues, “It’s nice. As it’s happening, I still pinch myself. it’s kind of crazy to be part of the queer community, and to be a vampire hunter/aspiring vampire. And not just the queer community, but for anyone who doesn’t feel seen, to see someone who doesn’t look traditionally what Hollywood has presented to be on the cover of a magazine, or to be someone you can see on TV every week, is a huge deal for me. It’s a huge thing that I’m very happy, and I don’t know how I fell into it, but I’m glad to use my platform to leave that door open to the next person who’s going to be on that cover, who might not be feeling like the most Hollywood leading man or lady, and to change some views of how we see people who are queer, who are immigrant, plus-sized, all of it, people of color, everything. So, yeah. I’m glad there’s change happening.”
And how is Novak finding the Nandor fans?
Once again, Novak adopts a total sincere veneer. “Well, for the record, I actually made the front cover of Persian Voiceover Newsletter.”
Guillén starts to laugh as Novak keeps going with his spontaneous improvisation: “It’s a bi-monthly – sorry, it’s a bi-yearly newsletter that – they actually got the wrong headshot, that wasn’t even me, but it was so small that it just looked like a guy with long hair and a beard. So, I need to speak to them actually about it. So, I don’t know, I’m waiting for the magazine cover.”
After this, Guillén takes on addressing Nandor fandom. “Nandor has a huge fan base, and I can vouch for that, because I’ve done cons where there are lines of people dressed as Nandor. It’s just like the videos and art online, it’s insane. So, yeah, there’s definitely huge [fan base] just for the show in general, but the Nandor art, I’ll post it all the time, because it’s phenomenal. To dress up like Guillermo is pretty easy – get a sweater and glasses, and you’re ready to go, and I love it, that someone puts the effort into that. But to dress up as Nandor? Someone has duplicated the coat, from scratch, that our lovely costume designer, Laura Montgomery, has made. Someone has replicated that, and it took them six months to make, and they go and they wear it for one day at a con. That’s how much the fans are loyal.”
Novak is genuinely reflective when answering a question about Nandor’s search for romantic love. On the one hand, the character seems to want it, and on the other hand, he doesn’t appear to want to actually spend a lot of time dealing with it. Is that a fun paradox to play?
“A hundred percent,” Novak replies, “it really is. He is kind of commital/noncommittal to finding love, and then once he finds it, he doesn’t know what to do with it. He’s looking in the wrong place. I think he is never going to beat his relationship with Guillermo, that’s the thing. And I think that’s what he’s slowly coming to realize, is that his search for love is a pipe dream, and it’s a Coca-Cola commercial, it’s what he’s been sold, or he’s absorbed it on the way. And I think, in a lot of our real lives, you realize that the relationships that are the longest-lasting are the kind of imperfect ones that you couldn’t write on the back of a cigarette packet, or aren’t picture-perfect bubblegum bunny rabbits. And actually, the reality of the true essence of what makes that relationship work, and is good, is in some way painful, because it is truth, and is more meaningful than just bunny rabbits – not that bunny rabbits aren’t real – just not in a relationship …”
Unless one is another bunny rabbit.
Novak draws himself up. “Well, I wasn’t going to make that joke, I left that to you.”
The interviewer apologizes.
“No, that’s fine,” Novak says graciously. “I’m glad that you did.”
What would Novak and Guillén both most like people to get out of WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS Season 4?
Novak adopts a mercenary perspective. “Well, it depends. If they watch it on FX, when it comes out, not a lot. If it’s Video on Demand, then I hope they love it and buy the rest of the season, because that’s something I can really believe in. Because I can see it.”
Guillén laughs, then responds, “I would say yes, Kayvan. But to find a new layer that they love about this show, because I think that we are presenting all these characters with new layers this season, and I would invite you to find another layer, because people who love the show obviously come back because they love what they are used to. And so, come back for what you’re used to, and then you’re going to see a new layer, and I hope you fall in love with the new layers these characters have.”
Article Source: Assignment X
Article: Exclusive Interview with WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS actors Kayvan Novak and Harvey Guillen on Season 4