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Small Details You Missed In What We Do In The Shadows

A spin-off of Taika Waititi's horror comedy film of the same name, FX's "What We Do in the Shadows" was developed for television by Jemaine Clement. Directed in mockumentary style, the show follows a found family of vampires cutting a bloody swathe through their home on Staten Island. They include Nandor the Relentless, a 760-year-old warlord from the Ottoman Empire; Guillermo de la Cruz, Nandor's bodyguard and former familiar; Nadja of Antipaxos, a peasant girl turned vampire nightclub owner; Laszlo Cravensworth, Nadja's uninhibited, raconteur husband; and Colin Robinson, a dull energy vampire.

Since its premiere in 2019, the Emmy Award-winning series has garnered critical acclaim and intense fan devotion for its colorful characters, inventive worldbuilding, and biting sense of humor. The show is also densely packed with references, connections, and Easter eggs that may be easy to miss when you're busy gasping for breath between laughs. Let's look at some of the small details you may have missed in "What We Do in the Shadows."

Anne Rice is the godmother of all vamps

Across four seasons, "What We Do in the Shadows" has paid homage to various works of vampire fiction, from Bram Stoker's "Dracula" to Marvel's "Blade." But the mockumentary, complete with talking head interviews, is an especially bloody valentine to "Interview with the Vampire" – both the 1976 novel by Anne Rice and Neil Jordan's 1994 film adaptation. The original 2005 "What We Do in the Shadows" short film by Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement is subtitled "Interviews with Some Vampires," and the FX TV series only makes that connection more explicit.

In the Season 1 episode "The Trial," the vampires are sentenced to death and trapped at the bottom of a well to be exposed to sunlight — the same punishment doled out to Claudia and Madeline at the end of "Interview with the Vampire," though Nandor, Laszlo, and Nadja are saved thanks to Colin Robinson and an umbrella. The titular "Nouveau Théâtre des Vampires" from the Season 2 finale is a nod to the deadly supernatural acting troupe in "Interview with the Vampire." Then there is Guillermo (Harvey Guillén), whose love for Antonio Banderas in the role of Armand in the "Interview with the Vampire" film is first expressed in the pilot episode. He can also be seen in Armand cosplay during the show's opening credits. Guillén is an Anne Rice fan in real life, telling Polygon: "When I got this role, I got to just revisit that classic love for vampire lore."

Nadja and Laszlo's matching wardrobes

They say clothes make the man, but in "What We Do in the Shadows," clothes make the vampire. You can infer a lot about a vampire's history or personality by paying close attention to what they wear, whether it's Laszlo's cursed witch-skin hat or Nandor's Persian-inspired wardrobe that reflects his past in the fictional country of Al Quolanudar.

Of all the characters, eternal newlyweds Nadja and Laszlo have the most closely aligned fashion sense, with their costumes and accessories frequently matching throughout the series. These details include gold brocade fabric on Laszlo's vest and Nadja's skirts, matching red highlights when they visit the night market in the episode of the same name, and, perhaps most memorably, the giant black lace collars from the pilot episode. "Jemaine [Clements]'s big thing with Laszlo and Nadja was that he always wanted them to match," costume designer Laura Montgomery told Vulture, noting that there was "freedom to go bigger" in later seasons. Their garments also tell a tale when the characters are separated; when Nadja first appears in the Season 4 premiere "Reunited," she is wearing a bold, red plaid dress that reflects her newfound independence in London.

Montgomery and her inventive, detailed designs were recognized with an Emmy Award for outstanding fantasy/sci-fi costumes in 2022.

Vampires are really good method actors

"What We Do in the Shadows" has attracted a glittering array of special guest stars over the years, with beloved actors like Mark Hamill, Dave Bautista, and Benedict Wong lending their comedic talents to the supernatural mockumentary show. Some of the best celebrity cameos, however, have come from performers paying homage to their previous roles, leading to one of the show's cleverest jokes. In the Season 1 episode "The Trial," Nandor, Laszlo, and Nadja face the judgment of the Vampiric Council — revealed to be five actors who have played vampires on film and television.

Among the famous fanged faces are Tilda Swinton (from "Only Lovers Left Alive"), Danny Trejo (from "From Dusk till Dawn"), Evan Rachel Wood (from "True Blood"), Paul Reubens (from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"), and Wesley Snipes (from the "Blade" film franchise). The council name-drops "Tom" and "Brad" (Cruise and Pitt, both from "Interview with the Vampire") and "Kiefer" (Sutherland, from "The Lost Boys"), entrenching the idea that in the world of "What We Do in the Shadows," every actor who has ever portrayed a vampire is actually a vampire.

In a clever melding of fact and fiction, each actor is styled to resemble their earlier role — Swinton, for example, sports the long white hair of her character Eve in "Only Lovers Left Alive." Jemaine Clement told Entertainment Weekly that Swinton directly inspired the idea when "Only Lovers Left Alive" and the original "What We Do in the Shadows" were shown at the 2014 SXSW film festival.

The original vampire roommates remembered

As much as fans of the "What We Do in the Shadows" series love Guillermo, Nandor, Nadja, Laszlo, and Colin Robinson, the television show wouldn't exist without the original three vampire roommates: Viago, Vladislav, and Deacon. Portrayed by Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement, and Jonny Brugh, the three vampires live in Wellington, New Zealand and are the "stars" of the original "What We Do in the Shadows" mockumentary film that premiered to raver reviews at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

While the spin-off TV series moved across the globe to focus on a new vampire household in Staten Island, the original cast has visibly passed the torch. Waititi directed three episodes of the first season, including the pilot; Clement served as showrunner and writer for the first two seasons; and Waititi, Clement, and Burgh reprised their film roles on the show, most prominently in Season 1's "The Trial." And if the viewer looks carefully in certain episodes, such as Season 3's "The Cloak of Duplication," they can see a portrait of Viago, Vladislav, and Deacon hanging on the wall. This background Easter Egg is a charming nod to the 2014 film, with the original cast symbolically watching the Staten Island vampires as they carry on with their blood-spattered antics.

Colin Robinson's strange reflection

The dreadfully dull Colin Robinson (played by Mark Proksch) doesn't seem like he would be one of the most mysterious characters on "What We Do in the Shadows" at first– or second, or even third — glance. The lone energy vampire in the house, his origins are a mystery even to himself. Unlike Nandor, Nadja, and Laszlo, he feeds on people by draining their energy, and while he doesn't share all of their powers, he also doesn't share their weaknesses, and is free to walk in the daylight.

Throughout Season 3, Colin Robinson searches for information about his energy vampire origins, leading to two major shocks in "A Farewell" and "The Portrait." Energy vampires are born rather than turned, and at the end of their 100-year-lifespan, they respawn as infants from their adult corpses. While Season 4 explores Colin Robinson's unusual new childhood, something strange about him that has been seen — but never directly addressed — is his reflection. While the traditional vamps can't be seen in mirrors, Colin Robinson can, though as seen in episodes like "The Casino," his reflection appears pale and mottled, with blue veins. Colin Robinson's reflection is an eerie visual reminder of his supernatural status, and once it's seen, it can never be unseen.

Sean has the gift of prophecy

Neither vampire, witch, nor slayer, Sean Rinaldi (played by Anthony Atamanuik) is one of the few fully human recurring characters in "What We Do in the Shadows." Introduced in the Season 1 episode "Werewolf Feud," Sean is the vampires' clueless next-door neighbor and Laszlo's best friend. Despite being seemingly ordinary — and the vampires giving him an almost fatal case of brain scramblies – Sean occasionally exhibits knowledge of the supernatural world that even he isn't fully aware of, or says things that can, on second glance, seem prophetic.

In the Season 3 episode "The Chamber of Judgement," Sean talks to Laszlo about his roommates in ways that foreshadows their story arcs later in the season. He says Nandor the Relentless looks like a "big sleeper," and in "A Farewell," Nandor attempts a century-long "super slumber" to deal with his depression. Sean also remarks that Colin Robinson "looks like a fetus" and mistakenly calls him "Newman Robinson," a joke that has a deeper meaning after "The Portrait," in which a reborn baby Colin crawls out of the dead energy vampire's body, effectively making Colin a "new man." This might seem like a coincidence, but in "Pine Barrens," Sean accurately describes the Jersey Devil — contradicting Laszlo and Nandor's insistence that they made the monster up to cover their murders — right down to a specific part of its anatomy. Have years of proximity to the vampires given Sean supernatural insight? Or is it just the brain scramblies?

The Baron's return was foreshadowed

It's hard to imagine "What We Do in the Shadows" without one of its most colorful recurring characters, the ancient vampire Baron Afanas. Played by actor and contortionist Doug Jones, who is no stranger to playing inhuman creatures via makeup and visual effects, the demonic-looking Baron provided the narrative thrust for the show's first season. Arriving in the pilot episode from the "old country" with demands that the Staten Island vampires conquer the new world, the Baron is seemingly killed in "Baron's Night Out" when Guillermo (a descendent of the vampire slayer Abraham Van Helsing) accidentally exposes him to sunlight.

The vampires bury the Baron in the next episode, "The Trial." But look carefully, and you will notice that when Laszlo gives the Baron his honorary "last sip" of blood, his eyes briefly flash red, signaling that he's still alive. What's significant about this detail is that the setup takes a remarkably long time to pay off. The vampires aren't inspired to dig up the Baron's charred torso (still played by Jones) until Season 3's "The Escape," meaning that eagle-eyed viewers had to wait two seasons for the Baron to emerge from the vampires' backyard. Thankfully, the Baron has had multiple guest appearances since then, and Nandor's djinn-empowered wish in Season 4's "The Wedding" has restored Baron Afanas to his former — and prosthetic-free — glory.

Collaboration mirrors The Wellness Center

"What We Do in the Shadows" is referential to other famous works of vampire fiction, putting its satirical spin on the supernatural. The Staten Island vampires may not have reflections, but "What We Do in the Shadows" has also held up a mirror to itself with circular, self-referential plotlines that reveal surprising truths about the show's ridiculous characters.

The Season 2 episode "Collaboration" is mirrored by Season 3's "The Wellness Center," highlighting how similar and painfully different Nandor and Guillermo are. While the vampire and his familiar share mutual affection, they are driven apart by the fact that Guillermo is a human who wants to be a vampire, and Nandor is a vampire who wants to be human. The central plotlines of "Collaboration" and "The Wellness Center" follow along nearly identical tracks: Guillermo and Nandor separately move out of the house to live with a new vampire, one who has developed a cult-like following and who promises to transform them. And in both episodes, they're lying.

In "Collaboration," Guillermo joins Celeste, a familiar who lies about being a vampire, and in "The Wellness Center," Nandor is taken with Jan, the leader of an aerobics-themed cult who claims she can turn vampires back into human beings. Both episodes feature Nandor and Guillermo reuniting after sudden bursts of comedic violence, but in the end, neither of them gets what they want. "Collaboration" and "The Wellness Center" are also the eighth episodes of their respective seasons, making their shared significance more explicit.

Laszlo plays a familiar tune

Fans of "What We Do in the Shadows" have become well-acquainted with the musical styles of actor Matt Berry. His singing and piano playing have been heavily featured on the show, with Season 2, Episode 8, "Collaboration," revealing that Laszlo and Nadja are the immortal masterminds behind popular songs "Come On Eileen" — or, as he calls it, "Chum On Irene" — and "Kokomo." More recently, Berry sang a cover version of "Sunrise, Sunset" from the musical "Fiddler on the Roof" over the opening credits of the Season 4 finale, which takes its name from the same bittersweet Broadway ballad.

Season 3's "The Portrait" features a musical Easter Egg in the scene where Guillermo walks in on Laszlo playing the piano. Laszlo is performing an instrumental version of Matt Berry's original song "Take My Hand" from his 2009 psychedelic folk album "Witchazel." Longtime Matt Berry fans will also recognize "Take My Hand" as the theme song to the 2013 British sitcom "Toast of London," co-created by and starring Berry. He plays the down-on-his-luck actor Steven Toast.

Ironically, later in the episode following Laszlo's piano playing, Laszlo explains why he hates his home country of England and never wants to return, making the song a very dark "toast to London." In 2022, Berry starred in a sequel series to "Toast of London," "Toast of Tinseltown," with his "What We Do in the Shadows" castmates Kayvan Novak and Natasia Demetriou playing guest roles.

Laszlo's reluctant fatherhood journey

Perhaps nobody was more surprised by Laszlo Cravensworth becoming the full-time parent of a baby energy vampire in "What We Do in the Shadows" Season 4 than Laszlo himself. The undead British libertine was previously known for avoiding any personal responsibility, even running away to Pennsylvania and taking on the identity of barkeep Jackie Daytona to avoid paying a month's rent to Jim the Vampire in Season 3's "On the Run."

However, if one rewatches "What We Do in the Shadows" from the beginning, there are moments that reveal that Laszlo has been on the run from the responsibilities of fatherhood for much longer than he was running from Jim the Vampire. In "The Trial," Laszlo reveals that he once turned a baby into a vampire out of boredom and abandoned it — a crime for which another vampire (Dave Bautista) was punished. In "Ancestry," he refuses to look at the results of a DNA test that will show him any living descendants. And in "Pine Barrens," Nadja laments that she can't watch her favorite movie — "Mamma Mia!" — because it reminds Laszlo of the illegitimate children he fathered in his human days.

It takes the spontaneous death and rebirth of his friend Colin Robinson for Laszlo to finally accept the role of a father after hundreds of years. He even confides in baby Colin about his absent father in Season 4's "The Grand Opening," giving the vampire a small measure of closure.

Guillermo's coming out nods to LGBTQ+ TV history

Though "What We Do in the Shadows" prefers to rip hearts out rather than touch them, one of the most emotional and heartfelt moments in the show occurs in the Season 4 episode "Pine Barrens," in which Guillermo de la Cruz comes out as gay to his family. This moment of vulnerability is foreshadowed earlier in the episode when Guillermo, preparing for the family visit, covers a portrait of his vampire housemates with a poster for the series "My So-Called Life." This gag also happens to be a reference to a landmark character in LGBTQ+ television history.

The 1994 teen drama "My So-Called Life" aired for only a single season, but it has become a cult classic acclaimed for its authentic portrayal of adolescent struggles. "My So-Called Life" co-starred Wilson Cruz as Rickie Vasquez, the first openly gay actor to play an openly gay character as a television series regular. For Guillermo (played by Harvey Guillén, who is openly queer), a gay man of color, seeing himself represented by Ricky Vasquez on television in his childhood would have resonated deeply. Wilson Cruz said he was "moved" by "What We Do in the Shadows" including the poster in a tweet, adding: "The POWER and reach of Rickie Vasquez is never lost on me."

The children playing Colin take the spotlight

One of the most shocking plot developments in "What We Do in the Shadows" is the rebirth of energy vampire Colin Robinson following his sudden death — in no small part due to "baby" Colin Robinson having the very adult face of actor Mark Proksch on an infant's body. Season 4 follows the reborn Colin Robinson as he ages from baby to toddler to tween, with Proksch's head green-screened onto the bodies of child actors. This uncanny special effect, according to Proksch, was inspired by an unlikely source — the Wayans brothers' film "Little Man" from 2006.

"What We Do in the Shadows" hired multiple child actors to play the part of the tiny Colin Robinson, who hammered his way into viewers' hearts by terrorizing the vampire household and singing Broadway showtunes at Nadja's nightclub. But with their faces hidden by special effects, these young performers wouldn't have their moment in the spotlight until Season 4, Episode 9, "Freddie." A contract dispute leads to Laszlo and baby Colin taking their song-and-dance act on the road, forcing Nadja to hold auditions for a new child star. The three hopefuls who take the stage are played by Sam M. Duncan, Violet Tinnirello, and Liam McKenna, who previously played "Child Colin" throughout the season. With Colin Robinson dramatically hitting puberty later in the episode, the audition scene is one last huzzah for the young actors and a sly meta joke — Nadja is essentially trying to replace Colin Robinson with himself.

Nandor and Guillermo's relationship means more than you think

"What We Do in the Shadows" keeps viewers on their toes with the relationship between Nandor and Guillermo. It's the kind of relationship that makes one ask, are they more than master and familiar? The pilot established Nandor as an aloof vampire with Guillermo as his long-suffering attendant, but the show has since turned that dynamic on its head. Guillermo embraces his heritage as a vampire slayer, even beating Nandor in combat, and Nandor has admitted that Guillermo is his closest companion. Throughout the series, small details have pointed to Nandor and Guillermo growing closer, with executive producer Sam Johnson acknowledging their "delicate" chemistry in a behind the scenes featurette.

After their plans to travel the world are dashed in "The Portrait," Nandor's quest for love drives him to plot a wedding, though he is more interested in his best man than in his wife. When Nandor wishes for a djinn to make sure his bride likes all the things he does, she suddenly becomes physically affectionate toward Guillermo and kisses him. And when Guillermo's long-distance boyfriend Freddie arrives, Nandor's complicated feelings lead to a bizarre love triangle. "We've seen this will-they, won't-they," said Harvey Guillén. "It's just blossoming every season."