See first look at Mark Hamill embracing the dark side as vampire in What We Do in the Shadows
Hamill shares with EW why the new role was such an honor.
Hamill will portray an ancient vampire in Jemaine Clement's FX series What We Do in the Shadows and EW has your first look at the character — fangs and all. The episode titled "On the Run," set to air May 13, will introduce a vengeful enemy from Laszlo's (Matt Berry) past who appears without warning to settle a personal debt. This causes Laszlo to flee his home and go into hiding.
“Mark had tweeted some very nice things about the movie and the show very early on in our first season, so we knew he understood the world of the show," series executive producer and co-showrunner Paul Simms tells EW exclusively. "And also, he seemed perfect for the part because he has the gravitas to play an ancient vampire rival, he’s not afraid to be silly, and he knows a thing or two about extended fight scenes."
Hamill is a massive fan of the film What We Do in the Shadows, starring and co-directed by Clement and Taika Waititi, which inspired the TV series. He shares with EW the events that led to him landing a guest role on the comedy's second season.
"I remember it was Father's Day and I had my three kids over and we were picking a movie to watch. I suggested Life With Father which is old school but I liked it as a kid because I'm from a big family. But all my kids rolled their eyes," Hamill tells EW while laughing. "They said it's cornball so I asked them what they wanted to watch and my son Nathan suggested What We Do in the Shadows. I had never heard of it but he explained it was a reality show about vampires and I was very intrigued. I was completely unprepared for what I saw, it was so incredibly clever and compelling. It had all the elements of a horror movie and yet, it combined the magnificent with the mundane. Who thinks of things like this? I had to stop it multiple times to really absorb what we had just seen. It's one of my favorite movies ever."
He added, "When I heard they were making a TV series, I thought I needed to lower my expectations. Neither Taika nor Jemaine was going to be acting in it, but I heard they were behind it so I remained hopeful. We saw the pilot and, not only was it on par with the film, but it added elements that I had never heard before like the addition of the energy vampire. The whole cast is one of the best ensembles in television history. I would've been happy just visiting the set, they certainly didn't need me to come in and mess it up somehow. But I thought I would check out the script and see what they had in mind. I expected the role to be like the next-door neighbor or someone who works at the Department of Motor Vehicles. When I read I was going to play a vampire, I just about shot out of my chair. What a great honor!"
Most of Hamill's scenes are with Berry, an English comedian best known to U.S. audiences for his role opposite Chris O'Dowd in The I.T. Crowd.
"One of the real challenges of working with Matt was trying to keep a straight face when he would improvise," he explains. "Each line he said was more obscene and profane than the next. Mark Hamill the actor found that hilarious but my character does not. I had to work really hard to try and stay in character the best I could."
When audiences first meet Hamill's mysterious vampire, his head is covered in a black hood, and, for a split second, he looks like a Sith Lord. The longtime actor says that wasn't intentional on his part but he isn't surprised because he thinks "all villains share certain traits."
When dealing with a supernatural show full of vampires, demons, witches, ghosts, and zombies, no matter the fate of Hamill's character it's possible he could always return to the series again. An idea that Hamill is totally into.
"It was such a great experience and I feel very satisfied with having done it once," he says. "But who knows? Never say never."
What We Do in the Shadows airs on FX Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
What We Do in the Shadows