‘What We Do in the Shadows’: Guillermo Improvised Breaking the 4th Wall – ‘His Face Does All the Talking’ [Exclusive]

The FX comedy What We Do in the Shadows character of Guillermo de la Cruz won viewers over with not what he said, but the comedically timed expressions he makes to the camera, breaking the fourth wall often off-script.

Actor Harvey Guillén, who created Guillermo on What We Do in the Shadows, said his character was less line-heavy and leaned more on his expressions and actions during the first season of the series. And while Guillermo’s storyline is unfolding and he has plenty to say, Guillén said Guillermo’s facial and physical expressions continue to be an important part of not only the character but the series.

Guillermo delivers the best expressions on ‘What We Do in the Shadows’

Guillén said that none of Guillermo’s iconic expressions to the mockumentary crew are scripted. “Well, you know, it’s funny that those looks are never in the script,” he told Showbiz Cheat Sheet. “When we started the show, we’re just told to be aware that there are cameras, obviously there’s a documentary crew.”

Harvey Guillén as Guillermo in 'What We Do in the Shadows' holds onto a metal bar in a subway car while Kayvan Novak as Nandor stands behind him
Kayvan Novak as Nandor and Harvey Guillén as Guillermo in ‘What We Do in the Shadows’ | Russ Martin/FX

“And so it’s very much like, ‘If you ever feel the need, you can break the fourth wall because it’s there.’ But again, he’s the only human in the room. So what they ended up doing was whenever the vampires would say or do something, where in their world it’s fine, ‘We’re going to kill somebody and suck their blood.’ The camera would pan over to Guillermo who’s a human who knows that there’s things to be paid if you cross the line. There’s repercussions for your actions, basically. And so it’s like that moment of panic of like, ‘Please don’t show this on camera.’ Or that moment of like, ‘Did you hear what they said?’ But without saying it, because he doesn’t say much the first season. His face does all the talking.”

Guillermo’s character development evolved from ‘wallpaper’ to vampire slayer

Guillermo went from the thirsty human whose only goal was to become a vampire to somewhat of a vampire wrangling parent. “I love the trajectory of Guillermo where he didn’t really talk the first season,” Guillén recalled, which is when he cultivated those fourth wall-breaking expressions.

“He’s kind of dismissed as wallpaper and kind of like slept on, for lack of a better word,” he said. “But Guillermo is now more powerful than any of them in the household. Because if they would have bothered to just learn his name. In his name alone, the power that he holds, de la Cruz, which translates to “of the cross” in Spanish. That guy should have never been allowed in that house.”

Guillén laughed thinking of how nobody recognized that Guillermo, in his patterned sweaters and heavy-rimmed glasses, was actually a vampire slayer. “Vampires are so self-absorbed into their own world,” he said. “That’s kind of where the comedy lives. That they would have never even dared to ask him. And they don’t care. You’re a human. You’re garbage, you know?”

He’s now a vampire parent on the show

Guillermo went from somewhat of an indentured servant to the vampires on What We Do in the Shadows to more of a parent role. “And so I love that that’s how funny this show is,” Guillén reflected. “That’s been planned from season 1 and then season 2 the Van Helsing lineage in his blood.”

“We see that now he’s basically a single mother and Laszlo will just co-parent,” he laughed. “But he has the good cop, bad cop moments with him. But it is kind of the sweetness that Guillermo gives as a parental figure that kind of every child needs. And that support, like encouraging them to have a YouTube page and you are their only subscriber. And leaves comments like ‘Legos are cool, buddy!'”

“Just to encourage a child and he knows what it’s like because there’s a quote in the season where he says, ‘My mom worked a lot of jobs when I was little and I barely saw her and no kid should have to deal with that.’ And so it was very touching to like give [baby] Colin [Robinson] a better experience. Because he could have easily just mimicked what he saw growing up.”