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Kayvan Novak And Harvey Guillen Discuss Their Changing Dynamic On What We Do In The Shadows - Exclusive Interview

Across the annals of television history, there have been many odd couples. But arguably none have been quite as odd as Nandor the Relentless (Kayvan Novak) and Guillermo (Harvey Guillén) on FX's "What We Do in the Shadows."

Initially, their arrangement seems straightforward. Nandor is a vampire, and Guillermo is his familiar. But Guillermo's patience is tested when Nandor repeatedly refuses to turn his familiar into a full-blooded member of the undead. Their relationship makes a drastic turn in Season 2, when Guillermo realizes he comes from Van Helsing's lineage and he has the uncanny ability to slaughter any bloodsucker that comes in his path.

Oh, how the tables have turned.

Of course, no such animosity can be found between their actors, who sat for an exclusive interview with Looper to discuss the release of "What We Do in the Shadows" Season 3. They talked about some of their favorite work on the show so far and where they hope to see it go in the future. If there's one thing you take away from this interview, it's that Kayvan Novak is, in fact, in a mid-credits scene for "Cruella" — so if you haven't seen it yet, definitely stick around the movie until the end.

Kayvan Novak discusses his Cruella 2 involvement

I had the pleasure of watching "Cruella" over the weekend, where you play Roger, who has an important role in the mid-credits scene. Can you tell us anything about your involvement, if any, in "Cruella 2?"

Kayvan: Oh, "Cruella 2." I haven't heard anything. I think anyone that was in charge of coming up with who was going to be in "Cruella 2" didn't sit through half the credits of "Cruella 1" where I had a scene. Had I known that I would be appearing halfway through the credits of "Cruella 1" ... It was just one of those things eight months in, definitely. But thank you for sticking around and not getting up once the credits are rolling, because that's usually where, "Ah. It's finished. See you, then."

Not to out myself, but I did almost do that.

Kayvan: Thank you for not. One of few. I have no information on "Cruella 2," of any kind.

Fair enough.

Changing dynamics in What We Do in the Shadows

Getting into "What We Do in the Shadows," how's the dynamic changed between you two now compared to Season 1?

Kayvan: I would say that the way that it's changed is that the power balance is definitely changed. Nandor now no longer holds all the cards, because Guillermo is no longer just a lowly familiar. He's an ass-kicking vampire slayer. So that's going to mess with Nandor's head, and it does. I think it's more interesting and challenging for Guillermo and what he now does with this new power, and new dynamic, and how he tries to use it to his advantage. But I don't want to put words in Harvey's mouth. Harvey, what do you think?

Harvey: Yeah, I mean, I agree with that. There's definitely going to be some friction. There's going to be some friction, because now realizing he's more powerful than he ever knew, and he has this confidence that comes with it. And now he's given the title of bodyguard, it does give him a little bit of a boost in just self-awareness and seeing how powerful and how far he can go with pushing the buttons. So he's also going to ask for what he thinks is his and he's deserved. It may cause some friction, for sure.

Speaking of being an ass-kicker now, Harvey, we spoke last year before Season 2 of "What We Do In The Shadows" and kind of talked about some of the stunts you got to do. Are there any fight scenes or stunts in Season 3 we can look forward to? Or do you have a favorite?

Harvey: Yeah, we do have some stunt work coming up. Not as much as a Season 2, or at least for the finale or the mosquitoes episode, mosquito hunters in the tri-state area. But definitely, we do have some great scenes — I think there's a couple that intertwined Kayvan and I, our characters. So there's definitely fun ones coming up, for sure. So we do get to see him kick some butt.

The future of What We Do in the Shadows

I had the chance to watch the first few episodes. It seems like Nandor is kind of trying to find his one true love. Do you personally have an idea of what kind of woman would make Nandor happy?

Kayvan: It's clear from the episodes what kind of woman Nandor thinks will make him happy. I guess in the same way that we all have done in our kind of "relationship careers," in that we worry that the one that got away, the one we had a fling with, maybe she's the one, or he's the one. Or, "Let's go find that person that I broke up with. Maybe I made a big mistake." And then, "Oh, no. No, that's not right. So that's why we broke up in the first place." Or, "Oh, the cute girl that was at the gym. I'll go and try and chat her up, and get number. Oh, this isn't working." 

And I think all those dead ends, all those false starts that Nandor experiences, we can all relate to those misadventures, almost, those romantic misadventures. But he's got to do it, man. He's lost Guillermo, in a way. He has. He's decided that he's had enough of being the head of the house, and he doesn't get any love in the house anymore. He doesn't get any love from Laszlo. He doesn't get any love from Nadja, doesn't get love from Colin. He used to get love from Guillermo, but now Guillermo is a vampire slayer, so he can't trust him anymore. So he's off.

That's great. Are there any more fictional vampires you'd like to see come into the fray?

Kayvan: Fictional vampires or fictional, supernatural creatures?

Like with the Vampiric Council, how we have Evan Rachel Wood and Paul Reubens reprising their previous vampire roles. Are there any, kind of in that realm, fictional vampires you'd like to meet?

Kayvan: I think that it's got to be Antonio Banderas.

Harvey: That's what I was going to say, Antonio Banderas.

Kayvan: Him with Guillermo would be amazing. Would be mind-blowing. Oh, especially if he just ignored Guillermo and treated him like s***.

Improvising during filming

How much improvisation did you guys get to play with this season? And are there any jokes or gags you're particularly proud of?

Harvey: There's several. I don't even know if they'll make ... Sometimes you do a bit on set that we hope makes it, and it might, but it might get cut to a smaller version. So we don't know. I have only watched the first four episodes, and I think some of the bits that we did in the first four episodes made it, and some didn't. We probably have hundreds of hours of footage where it's just Kayvan making everyone laugh, just breaking character. But I can't think of one specific bit. Can you, Kayvan?

Kayvan: I haven't watched any yet, so I don't know if any improvisational magic has made it to the final. I've learned the hard way not to get my hopes up.

Harvey: Oh, one of your bits did make it. I've seen the first four, and when you bring chicken to Guillermo in the cave. He did this at the last take. I think [Kayvan] hid the chicken in his legs, behind him, and he came out with nothing in his hands. He's like, "I brought you something." And he reaches in, and he goes, and he gives me the chicken. And I was like, "Oh," and he's all like, "I kept it warm, room temperature for you, because I know humans like that." And I was like, "Oh, God." And that was improvised, so I'm glad I didn't break character. That's why I cover my face. I go ... I'm like, "Oh my God, thank you." I grab the chicken. I'm like, "Mm, good." And he's all like, "All right. I will decide what to do with you," and he leaves, and then Guillermo's all ... Throws the chicken away. Disgusting. He kept it between his legs.

Kayvan: You heard it here first. I heard it here first.

Harvey: You heard it here first. Yeah, that made it. It made the cut.

Taika Waititi's busy schedule

How does Taika Waititi's involvement this season compare to perhaps how he was in Season 1?

Harvey: He's really busy.


Harvey: He's busy making tons of movies and other projects. Did we have Taika on set this ... No, we couldn't, because it was very strict. We were during COVID time, so even if he wanted to, he couldn't. And then we could have him, but probably wasn't available schedule-wise. At the helm now is pretty much all Stefani [Robinson], and it was always planned that way, I think. After the first two seasons, they were going to hand over the baton to them, which they've been amazing and great captains. So, yeah. I feel like if Taika comes back, and he does come back on set, but if he does come back, we know that he's a character in this world. He might come back. You never know.

If your characters switched roles where Guillermo was the vampire and Nandor was his familiar, how do you think their characters would behave or react to that?

Harvey: I don't think Kayvan's character would like it.

Kayvan: I mean, it would be ...

Harvey: It would be hard to adjust, because I don't know if Guillermo would go mad with power, or would he still be kind, or show Nandor the same courtesy he showed him, which could be a bad thing.

Kayvan: I think Nandor might put up with it for a couple of nights and then finish Guillermo off in his sleep. Probably that.

Season 3 of "What We Do in the Shadows" premieres on FX on September 2 and then airs the next day on Hulu. And make sure to tune in for the new aftershow "After the Shadows" hosted by Harvey Guillén, which will be available on all "Shadows" social channels.