NOTE: This article may contain spoilers to the 10/14/21 episode of the What We Do In The Shadows, “The Wellness Center.” Read ahead at your own risk.
The final panel on The Empire Stage at New York Comic Con 2021 was for the hit FX series, What We Do In The Shadows. Taking the stage for the hybrid panel were series regulars Matt Berry (Laszlo Cravensworth), Natasia Demetriou (Nadja), and Harvey Guillén (Guillermo de la Cruz), as well as Showrunner Paul Simms, Co-Executive Producer/Writer Sam Johnson, and Executive Story Editor/Writer Sarah Naftalis. Actor Kayvan Novak (Nandor) joined via a live feed from Toronto.
Before everyone came on stage, the audience was treated to a full screening of this week’s episode of What We Do In the Shadows, “The Wellness Center.” In it, Nandor is suffering from depression brought on by the ennui of his immortal undead life. Nadja convinces him to collect on past dues for the Vampiric Council, in order to get his mind off things. While out collecting dues, Nandor gets roped into the cult like Wellness Center. As Paul Simms described it, “He goes to a place where there’s a bunch of vampires pretending to be humans.”
The Wellness Center is a very 1980s place, from the decor to how all the vampires dress. When Nandor renounces vampirism and joins, he embraces it fully, dressing in short shorts, and gets a very Kenny Loggins looking haircut. The moderator of the panel asked Kayvan about his hair in “The Wellness Center“. Kayvan replied, “My hair was just a bunch of incredible wigs by our hair designer who wanted me to look like John Travolta in Pulp Fiction. It was fun to give Nandor a new look because he’s had his Nandor look for quite some time.”
“The Wellness Center“ starts a story that will run through the remainder of season 3 of What We Do In the Shadows. According to Paul Simms, “This episode begins the last 3 episodes of the season. They head in a direction and tell a story that is shocking and fun.” Harvey Guillén added, “I’m interested for you guys to see what happens in the next couple of episodes.”
In “The Wellness Center,“ Guillermo comes to rescue Nandor, his master. Harvey Guillén was asked about the action scenes in it, to which he responded “What makes the action scenes so fun is that you have comedy combined with action. I like it. I like Guillermo’s badass side.”
Part of the conversation focused on Kayvan’s mimicry skill, which the show used in a prior episode, “The Cloak of Duplication.” Many people thought the individual actors were providing their voices for that, but as Sam Johnson pointed out, “It was all Kayvan, except for Natasia.” Sarah Naftalis went on to praise him, saying “Kayvan is amazing. He’s an incredible mimic.” They tried to get Kayvan to show off his mimicry on stage, but he demurred, not wanting to embarrass his colleagues. Though both he and Natasia did quick impressions of Mark Protsch (Colin Robinson)’s Midwest accent. You’re fair game if you don’t show up to the panel.
Despite taking place in Staten Island, the show is filmed in Toronto. According to everyone on stage, the hardest thing to shoot was werewolf kickball. Paul Simms said that was originally supposed to be them playing baseball in a spoof on Twilight, however “It was 6 feet of snow, bitterly cold.” So they switched it to kickball. Natasia added, “It was so snowy. I was just staring at Matt and there was a pile of snow growing on his head.”
Matt Berry had a lot of fun on stage, often answering questions deadpan. When asked about Laszlo’s jalopy, he joked, “I didn’t know what a jalopy was until I read the script. I still don’t know what it is. It belonged to Henry Ford and it was given to him by Mussolini. That actual one. I didn’t want to sit in it, obviously.”
“The Casino” was also a topic of conversation on stage. Sarah Naftalis wrote it. She called casinos “a perfect place to put vampires. There’s no sense of time. The sun is blocked out so that people don’t know time is passing.” The moderator was surprised that The Big Bang Theory slot machine actually exists. After filming, FX’s legal department told Paul Simms that they would have to leave out that slot machine scene and all reference to The Big Bang Theory, out of fear of a lawsuit. But The Big Bang Theory creator Chuck Lorre himself signed off on The Big Bang Theory slot machine jokes personally. “He thought it was real funny,” recounted Paul.
When asked to rank working with the animals he’s had to film scenes with for What We Do in the Shadows, Harvey answered “The goat was the worst because at one point it was eating my costume. To which, Natasia chimed in joking, “[Harvey] has an enchanted nut sack. He was like “This is too many textures in my mouth.” Harvey continued, saying, “The dog was great. There were two dogs, it was like the kids in Full House. The cat was the best one. And it was nice to hold because it was the best one to hold in the cold.”
The topic of conversation later turned towards the show’s visual effects. Paul Simms praised the VFX team, whom he said kept improving each season. He and Natasia went into detail on getting the Nadja doll walking, with Natasia providing this funny anecdote, “Before the VFX happened, it was two guys in green suits with the doll attached at their feet. It was the stupidest thing I’ve never seen in my life. It was so funny.”
During the Q&A, a fan asked if we’d see a return of Jackie Daytona, Laszlo’s alter ego, to which Paul responded “That was such a special episode and so funny, that before the series is over, he might reappear,” but that his first appearance is so special that “it will be hard to top that.” Paul also revealed that shooting has already begun on season 4 of What We Do In The Shadows.
Another fan thanked Guillén for providing visible brown and queer representation on the show.
And with that, the final panel on the newly christened Empire Stage in the new wing of the Javits Center came to a close, with many What We Do In The Shadows fans leaving with smiles on their faces towards the show floor for the waning hours of NYCC ’21.
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