Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Harvey Guillén Shares His Stunt Training For What We Do In The Shadows - Exclusive

It's tough to top the hilarity present in 2014's mockumentary film What We Do in the Shadows, starring Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement, Jonathan Brugh, and Ben Fransham as super-old vampires living in 21st-century New Zealand. However, five years after the film debuted, the FX series of the same name proved it was more than up for the challenge. FX's What We Do in the Shadows follows the same basic concept as the film: a documentary crew follows a group of vampires as they adapt to modern-day banality. There are a few key differences between the two works — including the fact the FX series gives one of the vampires a human familiar, named Guillermo, who so desperately wants to become a vampire himself.

Actor Harvey Guillén brings genuine emotion and heart to Guillermo – one of the many reasons why he's one of the standout aspects of the show's second season, which recently finished its run on June 10, 2020. No other character has changed as much as the familiar, who's poised to do even greater things on What We Do in the Shadows season 3. For starters, Guillermo sticks up for himself more on season 2, and — spoiler alert — after discovering he's a descendant of Van Helsing, he kills vampires on more than one occasion. 

Guillén performs quite a few action sequences on the latest season of What We Do in the Shadows, and in an exclusive interview with Looper, the actor talked at length about getting ready for a more physically active performance. Guillermo Biermo sure has come a long way from his humble beginnings on season 1.

Harvey Guillén on doing most of his own stunts for What We Do in the Shadows

As fans know, Guillermo didn't have a ton of action on the first season of What We Do in the Shadows – but with that season finale's reveal that he's a descendant of Van Helsing, it was definitely clear Guillermo's role in this world was about to become a lot more interesting. Naturally, Guillén wanted to perform as much of that action himself as possible on the series' second season, even with a stunt double at the ready to do the tricky work for him.

"Of course, we're really safe on set, and we have a stunt coordinator, Tig [Fong]," Guillén told Looper. "Our director for stunts is amazing, and I have a stunt double as well. To have a stunt double, it's great, but I was like, 'You know what? I want to do the stunts that I can, if it's possible for me to do it.'"

Turns out, Guillén's used to being light on his feet and has a background as a dancer, which he noted is something others may not know about him. "People would make an assumption, just because you're a bigger guy, you can't move well. And I was like, 'Well, I've got dancing feet,'" said Guillén. "For me, it was a nice, extra thing to add to the character this season, where I was learning the stunts."

Throughout What We Do in the Shadows season 2, most of the time when you're watching Guillermo kick some vampire butt, that's actually Guillén doing it. There were some exceptions, of course. There was a scene where his character fell down a flight of stairs, which they couldn't let Guillén do, for legal reasons. Otherwise, it was Guillén on screen, and his stunt double being pretty bored just off-camera.

As Guillén put it, "My stunt double was amazing too, but he was like, 'Man, you're going to put me out of a job. I haven't gone on for you at all.' So he would get dressed up, put on a wig and the outfit for Guillermo and just — he was on the sidelines. He was like, 'Put me in, coach.'"

Harvey Guillén on subverting people's expectations

Guillén's fight scenes on What We Do in the Shadows season 2 were more than a way for him to show off his sweet vampire-slaying moves. They were also a chance to show that you don't have to be defined by what people think of you. Guillén put it best when he said, "They didn't expect me to be so quick on my feet, so they are really rooting for this character. And just to see something different on TV and on film is so nice. And again, I've always said it: representation matters."

People have definitely noticed. Guillermo is a fan-favorite on the show, and Guillén has received a ton of support from viewers who love the direction his character has gone in. 

"I've gotten so many messages from kids and adults from all over, who said, 'Watching you on TV kick ass like that was very important to me.' It really kind of put my life into perspective," Guillén told us. "People are always making assumptions. There's no reason that bigger people can't dance, or they can't do what they set their [minds] to. People are making assumptions all the time out of whatever the book cover looks like. And at the end of the day, you don't ever judge a book by its cover."

Catch Harvey Guillén dazzle as Guillermo on seasons 1 and 2 of What We Do in the Shadows, available to stream on Hulu right now.