Based on Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement’s hit movie of the same name, vampire sitcom What We Do in the Shadows has been resurrected for a second series, with the gang of buffoonish bloodsuckers Nandor, Laszlo, Nadja and Colin Robinson (as well as familiar Guillérmo) back for more fun in present-day New York.
Ahead of the show’s return to BBC Two, we caught up with star Natasia Demetriou (Nadja) to find out exactly what to expect from season two, what it was like to work with guest star Mark Hamill, and exactly what she’s been doing to pass the time in lockdown.
And suffice to say, for the Staten Island vampires the stakes have never been higher.
Hi Natasia! Obligatory question – how have you been getting on in lockdown?
I’m OK, I’m good. It’s nice to be at home in my flat, be forced to be at home and do all this ‘work’ in inverted commas, with a top on, and shoes and socks and absolutely nothing on my bottom half. That is a joy.
But I think I’m probably like everyone – it’s a combination of total complete anxiety and fear about the world, and then really loving doing puzzles again.
For anyone who hasn’t seen it, how would you describe What We Do in the Shadows?
It’s a comedy about European vampires living in America, completely… they were supposed to conquer America, and they got off the boat and decided to try and conquer the first place they got to, which was Staten Island. They’re very thick.
They’re vampires, and they’re almost good at being vampires. But they are useless at living in the modern world. And it’s basically seeing the minutiae and the domestic life of vampires. And it’s all filmed like a real documentary. And it’s from the minds of Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, and there’s nothing they can’t do.
We’re heading into season two – anything we should look out for?
You get to know each character more, and more about their backstory. They’re all about 600 years old so they have these mad backstories, and we get to know more about that.
Also witches get involved, and there’s a visitor from a galaxy far, far away… oh, and there was an episode we did where you get to see Nadja and Laszlo’s (Matt Berry) history, where they were singers. They wrote songs in years gone by, and that was a really fun episode to film.
You just get to know more and more about this world that they live in, and their house and their relationship. Lots more sex, lots more blood. What’s not to like?
You alluded there to working with a certain Jedi Master – but what was it like to film with Mark Hamill [who guest stars in the series’ sixth episode as Jim the Vampire]?
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) May 13, 2020
Oh, he was just the sweetest! I sound so sycophantic when I talk about him and Jemaine and Taika, but again he was just like a lovely, really down-to-earth, really normal, lovely guy. And he was a huge fan of the show, which is crazy for me! He knew what the show was!
He was like ‘Hey Nadja!’ He’s so famous, and yet he was so lovely! It’s crazy.
You’ve had some amazing guest stars on the show before – Tilda Swinton, Wesley Snipes, now Mark Hamill – so what is it about the show that appeals to people, where they want to get involved?
I think probably number one it’s probably working with Jemaine and Taika. People are seeing the work they’ve done over the past decade and loving it, all the stuff they do is so good. So I think that is a big pull, to get people to work with them.
Obviously getting to work with me is a huge pull, I know there’s a lot of big A-listers out there desperate to get screentime with me…
And who doesn’t want to play a vampire? Who doesn’t want to come and put fangs on, and a funny mad costume, and pretend to be like a really over-the-top bloodsucking monster for a couple of days? It’s like dress-up.
A vampire comedy is an unusual prospect – what makes it work, do you think?
I think vampires work so well in this setting because they are so dramatic and they take themselves so seriously, and they’re so cloaked in tradition and ritual, and mythology.
Anyone who takes themselves very seriously, or is in any way pompous, or thinks of themselves quite highly, as soon as you pull out one little thread, you find one little chink…that’s when it’s the funniest. It’s so funny to see them fail, because they take themselves so seriously and they don’t have much of a sense of humour about themselves.
So I think that’s why it’s ripe for comedy. And while we’ve seen lots of mockumentaries, it’s definitely been used a lot, to see a mockumentary where people are like crying, and sort of flying past the camera or levitating, or trying to eat the camera crew, I think adds another level to it.
And finally – could you see What We Do in the Shadows continuing for years and years, and would you be happy to keep playing Nadja? [Note: after this interview took place, a third season was announced]
Oh yes please! 100 per cent, please please please I’d love to, yeah. Definitely it would be amazing to keep on going. I don’t see why it couldn’t – but then the fact that there is a pandemic at the moment probably means it won’t be filming imminently.
What We Do in the Shadows season two begins on BBC Two at 10pm on Thursday 11 June, and the entire season will available as a box set on BBC iPlayer on the same night