TV

‘What We Do In The Shadows’ Kayvan Novak On Why There’s Trouble Ahead For The Nandor/Guillermo Relationship

When fans tune in for the What We Do In The Shadows season three premiere, things will have changed, for the show itself and the characters within it.

A global pandemic and a thirst for feel-good TV shows to numb the metaphorical pain and very real anxiety of living under lockdowns and surging COVID cases transformed the FX fantasy series into a comedy oasis. Fans who weren’t familiar with its humble beginnings — the show is based on an indie mockumentary filmed in New Zealand and created by Kiwi breakouts Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi — or its mostly-British cast flocked to the offbeat humor surreal mundanity that comes naturally when you drop a trio of centuries-old, out-of-touch vampires in the middle of Staten Island and task them with taking over the New World.

Nandor (Kayvan Novak), Laszlo (Matt Berry), and Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) haven’t quite been up to the task in the world of Shadows — though they’re doing a damn good job of taking over pop culture in our own — but that might be changing in season three as they inherit more power and get saddled with more responsibilities. They’ve also got a Van Helsing-sized problem to contend with in familiar-turned-Buffy-wannabe Guillermo (Harvey Guillen), and Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) seems to be sticking around to drain their energy whenever the mood strikes.

Whoever said life is hard never tried being undead. We chatted with the group’s “relentless” de-facto leader, Nandor. Or, actually, we Zoomed with his human counterpart, Kayvan Novak, but the guy so seamlessly transitioned into the naïve immortal’s obscure Eastern European accent when channeling his character, we’re honestly not sure who we were talking to. Both were delightful and gave us some interesting insight into the vamp’s search for love this season.

You filmed this season in Canada, during the winter, mostly at night, and during a pandemic. So, I have to ask, were you excited to get back to the WWDITS verse, or were you dreading it?

[Laughs] It was brilliant up to the point of leaving. I was distraught. I’d become so attached to just being here in the UK with my fiancé and my dog and my cat, it was hard. That’s the worst bit, kind of tearing yourself away from that. Once you go, then you’re away, you’re at work, and you’re just remembering what you love about being in that environment and playing those characters. As a cast and crew, we were all really happy to see each other again, which is lovely. We are a family. We had just as many laughs as we did in season two.

The vampires have a bit more power this season thanks to Guillermo’s massacre at the end of season two. What’s changed for Nandor? What’s his outlook on life this season?

The biggest change for Nandor is the dynamic with Guillermo. At the end of season two, Guillermo was revealed to be a vampire killer, which messed with Nandor quite a bit because that’s the relationship he’s been leaning on for 10 years. So that was exciting, and I was apprehensive about it. [switches to Nandor’s ambiguous Eastern European accent] “Oh I cannot lose my Guillermo, he’s not scared of me anymore. Is he going to listen to me, what’s the deal?” The status has changed because it was firmly in my favor, in my head, anyway.

Nandor was also going to be going on this journey to try and find love as well, and [I got to] draw from my own experiences and relationships and kind of put that into Nandor’s vulnerability and sense of heartbreak and desperation — all the things that go along with desire and rejection. I got to play all of these emotions within a kind of ensemble comedy in a goofy, funny character. My challenge I guess was to bring something real to the table and thankfully that is all in the writing and the direction.

He’s depressed and horny.

It’s not a great combination, really, is it?

A lot of fans like to read between the lines of the Nandor/Guillermo bromance but it doesn’t seem Nandor is really good at recognizing those signals. Does his obsession with finding someone to share eternal life with this season strain things with Guillermo even more?

I think that Nandor’s pursuit of love is extremely selfish. I think he never really takes into account Guillermo’s feelings. But that happens — you just get tunnel vision, you decide that you want something or someone and you don’t care what it takes to get it. The old vestige is you hurt the ones that you love, right? I think he does love Guillermo and he takes for granted that that love will be reciprocated no matter what, no matter how many times he sh*ts on him, steps on his toes, breaks his heart, pokes him with a stick.

Especially when he’s like, “Oh, I love this person. I love that person. I want to turn her into a vampire. I’m going to go and live with her for the rest of my life, this is it.” He never once takes into consideration that Guillermo might be upset. And when he does, I think his response is just to kind of gaslight him, to be like, “Grow up, man up, get over it.” All these kinds of quite insensitive, blunt reactions. But really what he’s doing is he’s got a hard time dealing with his own guilt that maybe he does bring Guillermo a lot of pain, and he just doesn’t want to hear it. When your mom’s like “Oh, you don’t call me anymore.”You don’t want that kind of family guilt. It’s the most potent kind of guilt that your siblings or your parents can kind of throw on you, like a curse you can’t get rid of. It’s just there. Guillermo is like that. But ultimately you have to submit to that because they’re family and you love them.

There’s a terrific Twilight callback this season, and it’s not the first Twilight reference Nandor has made on the show? Is he a Twi-hard?

It’s weird. They never really explored that joke any further, that I’m really into Twilight. Maybe he’s holding onto some glitter for another time, but I think it’s something that kind of left in the air. I might have to remind them of the fact that Nandor must be into Twilight quite a bit. Maybe [a future storyline] can be they are rebooting Twilight, and I’m going to get a part on it, but as a non-vampire.

‘What We Do In The Shadows’ returns to FX on Sept. 2.

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