Sunday was a good day for vampires at New York Comic Con. Not only did it mark the first weekend of Halloween month, it also featured multiple panels about vampire-centric pop culture, both new and old. In addition to a 10-year Twilight reunion panel, Sunday also featured a panel about the upcoming What We Do in the Shadows TV show, featuring co-creators Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement, along with fellow executive producer Paul Simms. To the delight of fans in the audience, the panel began by screening the entire first episode of the new series.
As Clement and Waititi recounted on the panel, What We Do in the Shadows first started as a stand-up bit where Clement would play a vampire comedian doing hack material like, “I just flew in from Transylvania, and boy are my arms tired.” Waititi would be planted in the audience as a fellow vampire heckling his rival, prompting Clement to exclaim, “Every gig I’ve done for 200 years you come and heckle me!” From there, their New Zealand vampires grew into a 2005 short film, and then into the beloved 2014 feature What We Do in the Shadows.
Now the concept has grown into a TV show of the same name for FX, but the series is set in New York City rather than Wellington. Instead of Clement’s Vladislav and Waititi’s Viago, the show follows old-fashioned Laszlo (Matt Berry); his free-spirited partner, Nadja (Natasia Demetriou); house leader Nandor (Kayvan Novak); and Nandor’s human servant, Guillermo (Harvey Guillen). Nadja is the first female vampire to play a large role in What We Do in the Shadows, but that’s not the show’s only franchise first. Another roommate, Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch), is an “energy vampire.” Instead of drinking humans’ blood from their necks, Colin simply talks to people in such a boring way that they lose all will to live. Even the other vampires are scared of him.
The plot of the first episode centers on the arrival of an ancient vampire known as the Baron, who is traveling from the Old World to New York City for the first time to see how the plan to conquer America is going, little expecting that after centuries these vampires haven’t even left Staten Island. Meanwhile, Nadja is stalking a human man she believes to be a reincarnation of a medieval knight she loved back in the day. But the real focal point is Guillermo, who wants nothing so much as to become a vampire himself.
“I was thinking they’re all murderers, so we need somebody to balance that out,” Clement said after the screening. “He’s more like an assistant murderer, but he’ll need to wrestle with that idea that if he becomes a vampire, he’ll have to do that stuff too.”
The day before, at EW’s Visionaries panel, Waititi had said there was a possibility of his and Clement’s characters appearing on the show at some point. But when pressed about it by moderator Alan Sepinwall, Waititi claimed not to remember saying that — “Did I say anything? What did I say?” — so Clement clarified.
“Only if something incredibly disastrous happens,” Clement said. “It has to be something of incredible import.”
Waititi did confirm, however, that the show is indeed part of the same fictional universe as the 2014 film and their recent spin-off series Wellington Paranormal.
“We’re creating a universe to rival that of Marvel,” said Waititi, who would know, having directed Thor: Ragnarok. “We’re taking one idea and stretching it out.”
What We Do in the Shadows is set to premiere on FX in 2019.
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