- Guillermo and The Guide share the experience of feeling left out, while The Guide just wants to be Nadja’s BFF.
- Guillermo’s journey this season shows the sadness of knowing that the universe has different plans for you than what you wish for.
- The Pride float moment, featuring Guillermo, showcases his liberation and accepting his reality, despite the imperfect situation.
(Editor’s note: The following contains some spoilers for season 5 of What We Do in the Shadows.)In season 5 of the FX comedy series What we do in the shadowsGuillermo Familiar Human (Harvey Guillén) decided that he was done waiting for Nandor (Kaiwan Novak) for him to become a vampire and take matters into his own hands with his vampire friend Derek (Chris Sandiford), with very unfortunate and inexplicable results. At the same time, the official vampire guide (Kristen Schaal) wants to be deeply embraced by a group that has known each other for centuries, but it is especially challenging to find where she fits in.
During this interview with Collider, co-actors Guillén and Schaal talk about telling the related guide, how Guillermo is learning how it is when the universe has a different plan for you than you have for yourself, that Guillermo is active with Laszlo (.Matt Berry) is a true chef’s kiss comedy, explores Guillermo’s awkward vampire journey, why it’s so important for mentors to be accepted in this group, how others dress is the true meaning of friendship, and how special the pride that floats in those moments is.
This interview was conducted before the start of the SAG-AFTRA strike.
Collider: As usual, this show is batshit crazy, and I would expect nothing less. What are you most excited for fans to see this season, especially when it comes to your character?
KRISTEN SCHAAL: There’s a lot of things I’m excited about this season, none of it has to do with me. Something happened that I had never seen before, in all my years. Some things I have to do, I don’t want to go, but I can’t wait for you to see it. Most of all, I’m excited for everyone to see relevant tips about being left behind. I think we are all left behind.
I’m sure for her, that look.
HARVEY GUILLÉN: Guillermo and the guide have something in common. I felt like they connected last season, but the guide needed something more than just friendship for a bit and that didn’t work for Guillermo. But they have a lot in common. They are always left out and need to feel like themselves, so it would be nice to join forces.
SCHAAL: I know! But the guide needs more from Guillermo. He has the sexy Van Helsing blood. That is not his fault. That was not her fault. That’s just the way it is. What are you going to do? Honestly, the guide is very well done with respect to Guillermo.
GUILLÉN: Yes, the boundaries were set and that line was not crossed again, but it was difficult to return to friendship after that. That was not what he wanted. But I’m excited for Guillermo to make his journey this season. Sometimes you think you want something bad, and it’s what you want and desire in the world, and maybe the universe has a different plan for you. Sometimes it can be painful to admit. He’s had a real emotional roller coaster this season with the outcome of everything, so I’m excited for people to see that and see a different side of him.
How much do you know about Guillermo’s Arc this season, entering? Did you know how the whole vampire thing was going to play out for him, or did you not find out until later?
GUILLÉN: Shortly before we started production last year, I met with Zoom with Paul (Simms) and Sarah (Natfalis), and the writers and EPs, and we talked about where he was going. I want to know a little before going into it, so I can prepare for anything. If I have to do a lot of stunts this season, I want to be able to hit the gym a lot, just to have stamina. That’s a curious angle. And then, they told me, “Okay, this is what we do.” And I was like, “What?!” They told me about Laszlo and Guillermo will operate, and the creativity that comes out of it is mental. It’s crazy. It’s just a joke of a chef’s kiss. It’s really great.
Finally what was it like to shoot the scene with Guillermo being bitten, after all this time of talking about it?
GUILLÉN: It was the first scheduled day. It was the first day back from last season. The last time we saw Guillermo in that outfit was in a convenience store with Derek, a year ago, so we picked up where we left off. We went to work with a gap of almost 1 year in between, so it was strange to just go back to the place that happened and to the scene. You only get one shot because you have to clean up all the blood, which flows out, so we have to take it and really improvise. To do that with Chris (Sandiford), who plays Derek, is a lot of fun. There must be plenty of pictures of us, blood running down my throat. It was fun to do, and the crew had a laugh. After that, the room was like a murder. Shout out to our set designers and our props, and everyone on the crew who had to wash all that blood off and set up again for another take.
SCHAAL: That was one of my favorite things that I read from season 5, the scene between Guillermo and Derek. It just reminds me of most people losing their virginity. It’s two innocent girls who figure it out, and it’s not what you think it’s going to be in your head or what you see in the movies. The way it was written, it was just a beautiful scene. Even though it’s two people doing the vampire thing, it’s very related. When you lose your virginity, it’s awkward.
GUILLÉN: I’ll let you know when it happens.
SCHAAL: I’m just telling you, it’s going to be a little awkward, Harvey.
Why is it so important for a guide to be accepted by a particular vampire clique? Does she really want to stay in the house with them? Did she really know that she was joining this group?
SCHAAL: That’s a great question. I doubted myself because they just didn’t seem to want her around. In this world of vampires, finding vampires that are family can be rare, so maybe she’s glomming on to one of the few she’s met in her long, long life, hoping she can wiggle her way in, that’s my guess. Let’s be honest, they are all very charming. Of course, she finds something cute in each of them. Nandor was the powerful warrior she had always known. Laszlo connects with all the characters because he has an amazing warmth to him. He looked out for a guide.
What do you think it is about Nadja that makes The Guide want to be her BFF?
SCHAAL: Nadja’s character is so fun because she doesn’t give two shits about anything. Self-absorbed, but she is not self-conscious. She just goes for things. She has courage and bravery which is really fun. She wanted to open a nightclub, so she did it and she was good at it. She wants to have a long relationship with Laszlo, so she does it. She is always just thinking out and she is very capable. When she had an idea, she did it, and it was a fun ride to go on.
Harvey, you have short contact in your eyes, you have big ears, and you have little wings coming out of your back. Are there any of these weird temporary vampire things that Guillermo actually wants to have?
GUILLÉN: If it comes with a package, he wants everything that comes with it. He just didn’t imagine it would go that way. When Guillermo is watching an interview with a vampire and has the fantasy of being a vampire himself, it is the sexy attraction of the vampire in period clothes, but that is not what it turned out to be. Like Kristen said, it’s just like your first time. It’s not what you imagine. It didn’t happen the way he thought it would, so I don’t think it’s an appeal, so far. It annoys him that it is a process to get there, and why is it a process for him? It’s a good question. He was disappointed, the way it came together, at the last minute.
How does Guillermo feel about having to rely on Laszlo for help? Is Laszlo really useful, in any situation?
GUILLÉN: He found himself in a place where he had no one else. He couldn’t trust Nandor about this, especially finding out through Laszlo what it would be like if he found out. By necessity sometimes, the last person you think of as your ally is your best friend. It is out of necessity that this bond is formed. And it shows a little tenderness with both characters, when maybe in the past they were not close. Laszlo was the one who named him Gizmo, which he didn’t like, so they were never famous or too close. They raised a child together, but after that, soon, they divorced. It is traditional because no one has yet been divorced. But they still support each other when needed, and at the end of the day, that’s a true sign of friendship. You may not be best friends, day in and day out, call each other and eat popcorn or drink blood on the other line. But when they need each other, they know they have each other’s backs.
And whose sweat can you wear if you can’t wear your friend’s sweat?
GUILLÉN: That’s why I always ask my friends to wear my sweats. That is the test of friendship.
Kristen, what makes the guide happy? If she could get her way, what would she want?
SCHAAL: I think she just wanted to be invited. Sometimes I just want to be invited, even if I don’t want to go.
GUILLÉN: You get invited all the time to everything, but you don’t go.
SCHAAL: It’s true. But I liked the invitation, and I felt really bad because I couldn’t go. Although, I did not get an invitation to the Maldives.
GUILLÉN: That’s because we sent the raven.
Harvey, Guillermo in the floating pride brought tears to my eyes. What is shooting?
GUILLÉN: It’s nostalgic for me, queer myself and going to my first pride event. It’s like the first time you’re out, like your true self is full, as opposed to when you might be more cautious or holding back because you’re keeping something from someone. That is liberating. The idea that Guillermo is finally breathing and living in his body and owning his space is great to see. It wasn’t the best situation, but he was like, “Actually, I want to go here.” At first, he hesitated a little because of how it came, but then it was just the way he was supposed to experience it, for the first time. And it’s great to see all the vampires cheering. The sign they made on the float for him, which is just cute and simple and true, “Gay Guy.” It’s just a good gesture to show that these vampires, even if they sometimes complete the hole for him, deep inside, there is a small ounce that still beats as a beating heart and may show kindness to humans.
What we do in the shadows Airs Thursday nights on FX and is available to stream on Hulu.