“You’d be surprised the amount of research we’ve had to do,” confesses executive producer Stefani Robinson from “What We Do in the Shadows.” In our recent webchat (watch the exclusive video above), she continues, “For the first season we had actual textbooks in the room about the different vampire lore from country to country. There is overwhelming consistent crossover. There’s also crazy stuff I’ve never heard of; like if you spill a bunch of rice, vampires have to pick it up before they do anything else in some cultures.”
The FX vampire mockumentary comedy also features Robinson as a writer on the show. She explains, “The ways vampires die is pretty consistent. Be-headings, fire, stakes in heart and going out into the sun. It’s tricky to write vampires in the world because we can only do so at night. What can they get away with in after hours?”
The show is created by New Zealander Jemaine Clement from “Flight of the Conchords” and produced by his Oscar-winning countryman Taika Waititi. It tells the story of three traditional vampires, an energy sucking vampire and a familiar. The cast is made up of British and American actors. Robinson explains, “At times, things are completely lost in translation. You’re learning a lot which is great. You see characters that wouldn’t normally be interacting. It really is a melting pot. We have characters that feel different, from different parts of the world and are different ages. I don’t know where else we’d see these characters hanging out together.”
Season 2 saw familiar, Guillermo (Harvey Guillén), consider becoming a vampire slayer. His character has been the faithful servant to Nandor (Kayvan Novak) in hopes of one day being made a vampire. Robinson reveals, “When I first moved to L.A., I was an assistant with feelings of aspiration, wanting power and agency. Guillermo’s experience is very personal to me and maybe a lot of other assistants in Hollywood. That dynamic was the one on paper that was a little bit of my life. Sad and strange but real.”
Robinson has received Emmy nominations and won Writers Guild Awards for her work on “Atlanta.” This season on “What We Do in the Shadows,” she wrote the episode “On The Run.” In it Laszlo (Matt Berry) flees and becomes Jackie Daytona, a toothpick wielding, bar-owning, volleyball enthusiast. The writer says, “Laszlo being a fugitive was always very funny to us. It should feel like one of those cheeseball 80s television movies. It was just a silly thing that we all thought was ridiculous. But it happened, and I wrote it. And we were lucky enough to get Mark Hamill, which made it feel more absurd.”
Working on the show she reflects, “it feels like an extended sleep over with your friends where you are just goofing off. We shoot versions of the script as written. When that’s done we get the cast to try whatever they want. It’s fun to collaborate with them. It’s just a really creative, kind of chaotic place to be but it’s so much fun.”
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