On Saturday, July 25th at 5:00 PM San Diego time, the cast of crew of What We Do in the Shadows on FX appeared on a pre-recorded panel celebrating the second season of the spooky comedy series. If you haven’t had a chance to catch up with the series yet, you might want to do so before watching the panel, which includes spoilers for the entirety of the second season. However, the first and second seasons are available for streaming on Hulu now, and there are far worse ways to spend your SDCC ’20 recovery!
The panel featured series stars Harvey Guillén (Guillermo de la Cruz, Nandor’s familiar and a descendant of Dr. Van Helsing), Natasia Demetriou (Nadja), Matt Barry (Laszlo Cravensworth), Kayvan Novak (Nandor the Relentless), and Mark Proksch (Colin Robinson, the energy vampire). Also appearing were Stefani Robinson (writer and executive producer) and Paul Simms (writer and executive producer). Haley Joel Osment, who appeared in “Resurrection,” the first episode of the show’s second season, as Topher the (late) familiar, moderated the panel.
Guillén talked about the evolution of Guillermo’s character over the course of the second season. He said that Guillermo was torn between what was probably his destiny and what he was longing to be, which he said were two great traits to play.
Guillén revealed that he spent the entire season in training for the elaborate stunt sequence that takes place in the second season finale, and admitted that the fight choreography reminded him of a musical.
Speaking of music, the show had a particularly melodic moment this season with the episode “Collaboration,” which saw Nadja and Laszlo reviving their two-person band. Osment asked how much music was written for the episode.
“I wrote a whole load of things, I don’t know what made it and what didn’t,” said Berry. “They’re all sort of less than thirty seconds long, there was no fully formed songs.”
“There were some amazing songs that made it in, and there’s a couple that I’m very pleased to say that me and Matt penned in his little dressing room on a keyboard,” said Demetriou. “But there were some amazing ones – ‘Hoop Skirt is a Poop Skirt,’ that was written by the writers, and that was one of my favorites.”
Proksch revealed that he had been sick on set during the filming of the episode “Colin’s Promotion.” He said that he just pushed through and did the best he could with his performance in spite of his illness and the cold temperature.
“Hopefully the episode didn’t suffer,” he said humbly (it did not; the second season of What We Do in the Shadows is remarkable for how consistent it is in quality).
Filming the show in Toronto doesn’t just mean winter weather, it also means it’s necessary to secure visas for cast, crew, and guest stars.
“There’s been times on this show, where because of visa issues and getting actors to Toronto, and everyone’s schedules, and we shoot so close to the holidays, that it can be sometimes hard to lock people down,” said Robinson.
However, in the case of Mark Hamill, who appeared in “On the Run” as Jim the Vampire, the actor was locked into place ahead of schedule.
“In this specific instance we knew somewhat ahead of time that he was going to be there, and we had time to write the part specifically geared towards him,” Robinson explained.
Berry admitted that acting beside Hamill was an extremely exciting opportunity, particularly during the fight scene, in which Hamill wields a pool cue in a manner than can’t help but evoke the memory of a lightsaber.
“Well, you’ve got to understand what that was like,” Berry elaborated. “I stood in front of Luke Skywalker and he held something like that right in front of me! Yeah, it doesn’t matter how cool you think you are or in character you think you are, you’re not – you’re seven years old with Luke Skywalker right in front of you! Pretty special.”
Osment asked how working with different directors played out across the second season.
“Our editor, who edited the movie and the first season of the show, Yana Gorskaya, directed two episodes for the first time,” said Simms. “I don’t know how it was as an actor, but for me, that was a really fun experience, because she has seen every single piece of footage, knows how the show goes together, and really came at it with the approach of knowing what we needed and knowing what we didn’t need. You don’t usually get that from a first time director, but she wasn’t really a first-time director since she was so familiar with the show.”
“I loved it, you would have no clue she was a first time director at all,” confirmed Berry.
“Also, no matter what director’s there, I send little bits of papers with notes on to all the actors that say, ‘stop that,’” said Demetriou. “So there are lots of directors, but I am always directing.”
Osment said that while on set he learned that much of the filming takes place overnight.
“It makes you mad, but that’s kind of good for the show, because you sort of become like a vampire,” Demetriou said. “But then you’re also still human, so you’re like, ‘Oh, I think I’m going to die.’”
Speaking of the set, working in the vampire house – which allows the actors to move from room to room during improvisation and includes details like lit candles – is a unique experience.
“One of my favorite parts of the show is the set, I can never believe it. Every day I go on set, I’m like, ‘I still can’t believe how detailed and how this is like a weird vampire house,” said Demetriou. “I want to take it on the road. Get people to visit.”
“Our designer, Kate Bunch, does an absolutely incredible job every time she’s asked for something,” said Proksch. “I’ve never, on any of my shows, worked on such an elaborate and really just beautiful set. And it lends itself to your creativity, which helps a lot.”
“No, it does,” said Berry. “It’s not only the best set I’ve ever worked on, it’s the best set I’ve ever seen!”
“The only issue with lit candles is you can’t stop and have photos taken because you will set yourself on fire, which is what I did,” said Demetriou. “It was completely my fault. Luckily, there’s loads of fire wardens, and he put me out.”
One of the most interesting revelations the panel afforded was the fact that the second season’s editing took place after the COVID-19 lockdown had begun.
“The quarantine started right when we were starting to edit the show,” explained Simms. “So we had to figure out how to edit remotely, how to color correct remotely, how to sound mix remotely. How to get everyone’s loop and ADR lines remotely, how to get Mark’s voice sound like it wasn’t in a big echo-y room…”
In fact, the entirety of the cast’s ADR took place remotely during the lockdown, including Demetriou’s lines for the Nadja Doll doppelgänger.
“It was very, very easy to improvise with myself because I am a fantastic actress and improviser,” said Demetriou. “It’s always been my dream to work against someone who’s as good as me, and finally, I got to.”
The third season of the show has been green lit, and Robinson and Simms said they are hard at work on the story.
“Very exciting news for the Comic-Con crowd,” said Simms. “We know what’s happening, and we can’t tell you. But it will be very exciting!”
Eventually, they did tease some of the subplots that viewers can look forward to when everyone’s favorite Staten Island vampires return.
“If there’s any preview we can give about season three, it’s that they all have something that they’re looking for,” said Simms. “Nandor might be searching for love. Colin still doesn’t know how he became an energy vampire, he’s just rolled with it all these years. There might be a search that he goes on, and there might be new duties and – I’m giving too much away.”
Plus, the trend of introducing additional magical creatures and entities to the world of What We Do in the Shadows will continue in season three.
“There are some creatures that live on edifices,” teased Robinson.
“I will say that the vampires do get a Hellhound to protect them,” revealed Simms.