‘What We Do in the Shadows’: Are Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement in the New FX Show?

Get out the garlic. Cult film favorite What We Do in the Shadows is coming to TV. The new comedy, based on the 2014 mockumentary about a group of vampire roommates in New Zealand, premieres on FX on March 27.

Like the original movie, the 10-episode series will follow three vampires as they navigate the modern world. But don’t expect Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement to reprise their roles as Vlago and Vladislav on the small screen.

Why Waititi and Clement didn’t want to be in the show

The FX shows shifts the action from Wellington, New Zealand, to Staten Island, New York. (The “New Zealand of New York,” according to one of the show’s producers.) And it introduces three new vampires. Kayvan Novak plays Nandor, Matt Berry is Laszlo, and Natasia Demetriou is Nadja. Harvey Guillien plays Guillermo, Nandor’s human familiar. The show also adds a new kind of vampire to the mix. Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) is an “energy vampire,” who thrives not on sucking blood but on sucking the will to live out of his fellow office workers.

But fans who were hoping that Vladislav or Vlago might drop in on their vampire kin in Staten Island will be disappointed. Waititi and Clement — who also co-wrote and co-directed the 2014 film — opted not to appear in the show, even though the network urged them to do so.     

“They encouraged us to do it,” Waititi told the New York Times. “‘It’d be really cool if you guys were in the show, at least one of you.’ Well, I’m not going to do it if he’s not going to do it. Neither of us really wanted to do it.”

He elaborated on his reluctance in an interview with USA Today. “Being that character before was really fun, but you don’t really want to repeat yourself,” he said. “The idea that I’m going to put those teeth on again, put those clothes on again, put that stupid harness on and fly around, (it) made me exhausted just thinking about it.”

But they are involved in the production

Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi
Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi | Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SXSW

Waititi and Clement might have hung up their capes for good, but that doesn’t mean the pair weren’t involved in the show. Clement wrote several episodes, and both he and Waititi directed some episodes as well. Both are also executive producers.

Adapting a movie for television comes with certain challenges, not the least of which was getting used to working with the network. While much of the original movie was improvised and filmed over just a few weeks in New Zealand, the duo had to get used to receiving feedback from the FX bosses.

“The thing is, in the movie, we were the bosses and we never had to take notes. Now we have to take notes from the network,” Clement told the New York Times. “And a lot of the notes are like, ‘In the movie …’ Oh, man. We know. We did the movie.”

What We Do in the Shadows premieres Wednesday, March 27 at 10/9c on FX.

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