‘What We Do In the Shadows’ Did Not Film the Vampires’ Atlantic City Trip in Atlantic City — How They Faked It

The Sept. 16 episode of the FX comedy What We Do in the Shadows takes the vampires on a road trip. Nandor (Kayvan Novak), Laszlo (Matt Berry), Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) and Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) visit Atlantic City, New Jersey with Guillermo (Harvey Guillén) in tow. However, executive producer Paul Simms revealed they were not actually in the east coast gambling capital.

“Well, none of it was in Atlantic City,” Simms told the Television Critics Association at a Zoom panel on Aug. 13. 

Atlantic City welcomes Nandor in What We Do in the Shadows
L-R: Kayvan Novak and Harvey Guillén | Russ Martin/FX

Simms also regretted the ambition of the Atlantic City episode. What We Do in the Shadows went back into production under coronavirus (COVID-19) safety protocols. A road trip episode would be challenging in the best of circumstances, but Simms admitted he did not anticipate the added challenges of COVID-19 safety.

“Obviously, there were challenges this season with COVID and everything, and that episode was one that if I had to… I love that episode, but it was such a challenge to, when we are trying to limit the exposure of the actors to other people and to big groups, to try and shoot an episode that looks like it’s in a fullfilled casino.”

The What We Do in the Shadows vampires are based in New York City. However, the show films in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where many Hollywood productions double the Big Apple.

A couple invites the vampires to celebrate their anniversary, so the gang neglects their Vampiric Council duties to celebrate. Simms said they also found a nearby Canadian casino to double for Atlantic  City.

“It was actually a casino we found that was on the Canada side of the border in Niagara Falls,” Simms said. 

What We Do in the Shadows: Nadja gets ready to gamble
Matt Berry and Natasia Demetriou as Nadja | Russ Martin/FX

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The episode also proves fraught for the fictional vampires. With casinos keeping people up all night, it’s up to Guillermo to remind them to go back to their rooms before the sun comes up. The casino provides plenty of marks for energy vampire Colin, but the clan’s attempt to bring ancestral soil to their bedrooms proves no match for the hotel maid staff. 

Atlantic City was not the only excursion What We Do in the Shadows had to fake. In another episode, Guillermo takes a trip around the world. Simms said What We Do in the Shadows found locations around Canada.

“Guillermo’s around-the-world journey we all managed to fake somehow,” Simms said. “I know our British cast members will tell you that there’s no real red, doubledecker buses that pull up outside of Heathrow. But, for an American audience, they see that red doubledecker bus, and they go, ‘Holy cow. We must be in England.’ My favorite one of those was the Iran/Iraq border, which I still don’t remember where we found that in Toronto, but somehow…”

Guillén said he filmed Guillermo’s world-wide journey in relatively close proximity. 

“It was right next to Heathrow,” Guillén said of the Iran/Iraq scene. “It was literally, like, 20 feet across from ‘Heathrow’ was ‘Iraq,’ and then down the street was Cherry Beach where we shot ‘Greece’ and so everything was within, like, a mile radius.”

What We Do In the Shadows Season 3 premiere: Laszlo, Nandor, Nadja and Guillermo stand up
L-R: Harvey Guillén, Matt Berry, Kayvan Novak and Natasia Demetriou | Russ Martin/FX

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Although What We Do in the Shadows is normally set in New York, it is clear the world is densely populated by vampires. The show spun off from the New Zealand movie created by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi. Showrunner Stefani Robinson couldn’t put a number on how many other vampires they could encounter around the world. 

“The question is how many vampires are there in the world?” Robinson said. “Countless.  It would be a fool’s errand to try to put a number on it.”

What We Do In the Shadows airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on FX and premiere on Hulu Fridays.