In a recent interview, Taika Waititi talks about his television series What We Do in the Shadows, a mockumentary-style comedy that explores the hassles of being a vampire in the modern world. Before Taika Waititi become one of the most sought-after directors in Hollywood — and directed the big-budget Marvel film Thor: Ragnarok — he co-wrote and co-directed a 2005 short film about vampires called What We Do in the Shadows. This mockumentary-style short was later adapted into a 2014 feature film that became a cult classic. Taika Waititi and his collaborator Jemaine Clement not only wrote and directed the feature, but starred in lead roles.
Five years after the 2014 feature film’s release, Waititi and Clements’ vampire world is being revisited in an FX comed. Waititi and Clement developed a television series for FX even though “it was never really a thing that [they] had planned on doing.”
Waititi directed three episodes, including the pilot. According to Waititi, he prioritized the tone of the project by not censoring anything. “It was about just keeping it real and letting the actors riff without having to censor themselves.”
The deadpan, low-key humor of What We Do in the Shadows was generated by improvisation. In an interview about the 2014 film, Jemaine said that the whole film was improvised. Waititi worked with his stars — among them Tilda Swinton, Evan Rachel Wood, and Danny Trego — to encourage riffing and natural dialogue. “It was just them and Jemaine and I, and we were basically running around the whole space pretending to be all the characters, for the eyelines and stuff. It was pretty mad. I thought it was going to be a complete failure, but it worked.”
When asked about season 2, Waititi said: “Season two is being storylined at the moment. My hope is that the characters’ individual arcs and stories get more complex and entwined. I like these characters so much, I want to feel I know them even more intimately. And by intimate, I think you know what I mean.”
What We Do in the Shadows premiered on March 27 and airs on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on FX.