What We Do in the Shadows creators Jemaine Clement (who wrote last night’s “The Trial”) and Taika Waititi (who directed it) dropped some major hints yesterday for fans to expect some stellar guest stars. Considering the show has already featured the likes of Doug Jones, Vanessa Bayer, and Nick Kroll, anticipation was running high for this one—and the vampires did not disappoint.
If you’ve been following the misadventures of Staten Island’s dorkiest undead so far this season, you would know that the main trio of roommates (Kayvan Novak as Nandor, Matt Berry as Laszlo, and Natasia Demetriou as Nadja), along with Nandor’s hapless familiar, Guillermo (Harvey Guillén), were already shitting themselves after last week’s accidental death-by-sunlight of their unwelcome houseguest, the ancient Baron (Doug Jones).
This week, they were summoned before the “Vampiric Council” by a pack of ravens and a very theatrical messenger (Kristen Schaal, the first guest star of the night).
Things got even more dire from there…for the vampires.
They entered their hour of judgment after getting a possible glimpse of their futures from a pair of bloodsucking prisoners, one of whom was played (hilariously) by Guardians of the Galaxy’s Dave Bautista. For everyone watching at home, however, “The Trial” soon turned into the greatest gathering of vampire characters any TV show or movie has ever managed to assemble.
It was fun, but not a total surprise, to see Waititi, Clement, and Johnny Brugh reprise their roles from film as members of the Vampiric Council (even if those bumbling characters might seem like dubious choices for high leadership). But the real delight came when the show revealed the Council’s other notable members, all well-known actors who’ve played vampires in their careers: Tilda (Tilda Swinton, repping her vampire self from Only Lovers Left Alive), Evan Rachel Wood (True Blood), Paul Reubens (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Danny Trejo (From Dusk Till Dawn) and Blade himself, a Skyped-in Wesley Snipes. “Tom” and “Brad” (Cruise and Pitt from Interview With the Vampire, obviously), “Kiefer” (as in Lost Boys’ Sutherland), and “Rob” (as in Twilight’s Pattinson) also got shout-outs, but didn’t appear.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Clement said that the idea actually stemmed from a joking conversation he had with Swinton a few years back, when both What We Do in the Shadows and Only Lovers Left Alive happened to be playing at the SXSW Film Festival. When the episode started coming together, Swinton was automatically onboard, and thereafter it wasn’t terribly hard recruiting several more famous vampires.
In the same interview, co-executive producer Paul Simms went into a little more detail about the casting process, specifically the ones that got away:
I remember Kiefer Sutherland passed. Brad, we talked to his people and they were very open to it, but by then we were so full up with vampires, we never really followed up. Which is kind of rude of us, and maybe a mistake. But that’s saved something for season 2. And Tom, I don’t even think we tried. It was one of those things where we went out to a lot of people, and once we got the people that we had, we were very happy with it. There were a few people who did want to do it, and then scheduling-wise it just didn’t work out. I can’t remember if [Pattinson] was one of them. I do remember Alexander Skarsgård was really very open to doing it, but he was in Australia at the time. We almost sent someone to Australia to try to shoot him, but the schedule didn’t work out. As it is, I wish we had more time with each one of those, so if we got more, it would have been even less time for everyone. But we’re open for anyone for season 2!
Read the full interview for more details on that amazing scene — which was assembled through editing magic, with actors filming their parts in Toronto, California, and (in Snipes’ case) a hotel room in New Jersey – as well as a few tantalising tidbits about season two.
In the meantime, of course, season one of What We Do in the Shadows has a few more episodes to go.