It's just about spring, so it's time to celebrate television with the annual PaleyFest LA, the country’s premiere television festival that brings together the cast and creatives for the biggest series, both past and present. Kicking off the virtual 2021 event today is the FX hit comedy, What We Do in the Shadows. The cast and executive producers teased some Season 3 news and revealed some lore behind the most beloved elements of the show.
The series itself is a continuation of the vampire mythology introduced by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi in their mockumentary film, What We Do in the Shadows (2014). The show features a new cast of Staten Island based bloodsuckers including Nandor the Relentless (Kayvan Novak) and his put upon human Familiar, Guillermo de la Cruz (Harvey Guillén); Laszlo Cravensworth (Matt Berry) and his mate, Nadja (Natasia Demetriou); and their uniquely U.S. born and bred roommate (and energy vampire), Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch).
After an incredible critical and audience reaction for the second season that aired in 2020, showrunner/executive producer Paul Simms and executive producer Stefani Robinson joined their cast over Zoom, as series director Kyle Newacheck (Workaholics) posed mellow questions to the group. Simms and Robinson confirmed the writer's room was already deep into crafting Season 3, with the cast imminently set to receive the first three scripts to review for the first time. (Due to ongoing COVID-19 delays, Season 3 production in Toronto has shifted from February 2021 to later in this year.)
Unwilling to spoil too much this early, Simms did share that fans of the series should look for a character already known in their mythology to join the cast for a season long arc. "And it's not Nick Kroll [Simon the Devious], but someone we all know and love," he teased.
Robinson also added that there would be a big birthday celebrated in Season 3. "And more animals this season," she joked/threatened, as they all remembered the Season 2 nightmare of working overnight with a disgruntled goat for one episode.
A topic that also came up in the conversation was the impact on the writer's room after just about everyone fell in love with Matt Berry's "human" alter-ego, Jackie Daytona, in Season 2's "On the Run" episode written by Robinson. Would there be more adventures for the bon vivant barkeep who charmed a rural Pennslyvania town?
Robinson said she doesn't imagine the show ever wanting to repeat itself with another similar adventure that wouldn't be as funny. And that the real important lesson they learned from the audience and criticical reaction to the episode was the writers learned that "we can do whatever we want." Explaining herself, Robinson said, "That episode gave us the opportunity to break format with all of the characters and push the show into new settings, formats, characters to explore what we’ve established."
"So not another Jackie Daytona adventure," Simms added, "but we have plans for the show to go into completely different directions."
However, Robinson and Simms said something the show will never ditch is its mockumentary framing device, because without it, the show would just be a vampire sitcom.
"That style grounds it and makes the show work," Robinson explained. "Staten Island, their neighbors and everything needs to feel real and it’s the magic of the show because when it feels real, the cast can be big and surprising. Rooting it in some reality makes it work."
Simms added that sticking to only shooting what a documentary crew could credibly capture has become the spine of the show's creative point of view. He admitted he and the series directors had been tempted to cheat in the first season, but series creator/director Jemaine Clement made sure to teach everyone the rules. "If you cheat, then the show becomes The Munsters."
During the hour-long panel conversation, the cast and EPs answered Newacheck's personal and fan-sourced questions. In particular, he asked Novak the origin of Nandor's now instantly recognizable and much imitated accent. The actor explained it was a voice he created about 15 years ago to prank call friends as a guy named Yannick looking for work. When he got the audition for the TV series, he felt like the character read like a mix of Jemaine and Taika's characters from the film, and that the accent would work. "It fit the rhythms especially of how Taika spoke and so I dusted off [a] Eastern European accent and it clicked with Nandor," Novak explained.
Robinson and Simms then admitted Nandor's accent is the one most attempted by the entire writer's room when they are writing the character, using it when reading or pitching lines for an episode.
To find out each of the castmember's favorite things about Demetriou (including her own), their favorite guest stars so far, and who they would love to have appear in Season 3, watch the whole What We Do in the Shadows panel on the Paley Center’s dedicated channel on Verizon Media’s Yahoo Entertainment page.