This post discusses plot points from the two-episode premiere of What We Do In The Shadows season three.
Staten Island’s funniest, not-so-vicious bloodsuckers are back: What We Do In The Shadows returned for season three tonight with a two-episode premiere. The FX comedy is based on Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement’s 2014 film of the same name. The third season focuses on the aftermath of Guillermo (Harvey Guillén) revealing his vampire-slaying abilities in order to save the lives of Nandor (Kayvan Novak), Laszlo (Matt Berry), Nadja (Natasia Demetriou), and Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch). As a way to repay him, they lock Guillermo up in a flimsy cage and ponder over killing him in “The Prisoner,” the first of two episodes that make up the premiere. Nandor is the only one genuinely concerned about his human familiar.
Novak tells The A.V. Club he enjoyed digging into this specific aspect of his character: “It was awkward for Nandor to be sticking up for Guillermo, but it was the most interesting thing to play. It’s this edgy thing for Nandor, to get these three roommates [Laszlo, Nadja, and Colin Robinson], who never listen to him, who never listen to anyone, and nudge them into the direction of compassion and kindness. I liked that because it gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling to see him going above and beyond.”
Meanwhile, Guillén says he loves how Guillermo uses an odd predicament to his benefit, even if it means staying trapped in an unlocked cage for a month. “He’s testing Nandor’s loyalty to him. He needs to know his hard work is paying off, and when he overhears Nandor, he uses his own words against him.” The actor reveals all his basement scenes from “The Prisoner” were actually filmed with night vision cameras. “[Director] Kyle Newacheck turned off the lights and said to me, ‘You can do it, right?’ I didn’t know where I was going—it was pitch black when I was crawling and using the sliding doors,” Guillén says.
By the end of the first half hour, Guillermo isn’t just Nandor’s familiar anymore. He’s officially promoted and given the title of vampire bodyguard. It’s not quite the upgrade Guillermo desires—to be made an actual vampire himself—but it’s the best he’s got for now. “It’s either this or death, so he has no choice,” Guillén says, adding that this position gives Guillermo a newfound confidence with this group moving forward. “For so long, he’s feared them and become submissive, but now it’s the opposite. They need him for security.”
Both actors say that Nandor and Guillermo’s bond continues to evolve in season three, even as Guillén notes that the latter gets pushed to his extreme limits while performing tasks as the bodyguard. Novak teases that Nandor will begin searching for true love, which takes him to some vulnerable places, but he does acknowledge he wouldn’t be here without Guillermo.
Nandor’s attempts to find a romantic partner arrive as early as episode two, “The Cloak Of Duplication.” Novak says the most daunting part of this episode was impersonating his co-stars. After becoming co-leaders of the Vampiric Council with Nadja, Nandor’s first agenda is to use a magical cloak to woo a gym receptionist he’s crushing on named Meg (Lauren Collins). He asks Laszlo to don the cloak and pretend to be him, but Colin Robinson and Guillermo have a go at it as well. “I knew that me, Kayvan, was going to be judged with a different ruler for this one,” Novak says, because he had to play Nandor as the other three men would.
How did Novak prepare to play Nandor differently each time? “I put a lot of hours into walking around my apartment in pants pretending to be Matt Berry, and I got a kick out of it,” the actor jokes. “But they did generously help me along the way. Matt and Mark sent me voice notes of them doing the scene. Theirs were more theatrical. With Guillermo pretending to be Nandor, it was more emotional, so we went through it a bunch of different ways, and I was just trying to get my eyebrows and mouth in a certain way,” Novak says. Guillén quips: “Kayvan can do me on the drop of a dime now.”