In What We Do in the Shadows, FX’s Emmy-nominated comedy about several vampires living in modern-day Staten Island, each member of the central quintet has a defining quality. Nandor, a former viceroy, is clueless. Guillermo, his human familiar, has a fruitless desire to be turned into a vampire (or maybe it’s just his unhealthy devotion to the happiness of his “master”). Colin Robinson, the show’s token “energy vampire,” likes to talk — and talk, and then talk some more.
Then, there is Laszlo and Nadja, the pansexual undead couple who, at any given moment, are most likely having wild sex — always with each other, often with several other similarly-aroused individuals, and sometimes in very public places. In the first episode of season four, streaming now on FX and Hulu, Nadja returns home after a yearlong sojourn to London, and within minutes, is having passionate intercourse in a disgusting “pool” of weirdly-colored water in the couple’s flooded basement. “Let’s fuck,” Laszlo tells his beloved immediately after she appears in the doorway. “I want to peel you like a potato and mash your insides,” Nadja later adds.
According to actors Matt Berry and Natasia Demetriou, Laszlo and Nadja’s relentless horniness is merely a symptom of their centuries-long love. “They’re just two people that are into each other and they’re not ashamed of it,” Berry puts it plainly. The two Brits have a natural chemistry with one another that shines as much on the show as it does in interviews, where they playfully refer to each other using pet names and frequently build on one another’s humorous quips.
Alas, the show’s superb fourth season keeps this perpetually-aroused pair separate for much of it, with Nadja preoccupied with opening her dream vampire nightclub while Laszlo poses as an unlikely father figure to Baby Colin (or whatever it is that crawled out of Colin Robinson’s corpse when the energy vampire memorably “expired” at the tail-end of season three). Still, even when apart, the fiery passion between these two can’t be ignored — and if the actors have their way, Nadja and Laszlo will be back side-by-side in the show’s already confirmed fifth and sixth seasons.
Shortly before the season three premiere, NYLON hopped on Zoom with Matt Berry and Natasia Demetriou to talk about the runaway success of their show, dancing at vampire nightclubs, raising adult babies, hating musical theater, why their characters are always so horny, and who Matt thinks should play Laszlo’s brother. (Trust me, you’ll never guess who it is.)
How are you feeling heading into season four of the show?
Natasia Demetriou: Personally, I'm actually really excited to see this season. With all the storylines and all the different things we're doing [in this season], I've never been this excited to watch one. I just thought it was so funny. Also, we haven't even seen what it looks like with Baby Colin as Baby Colin. I'm very excited to see how Mark [Proksch]'s head looks on a child's body. I mean, that's a really horribly weird thing to say, but I'm really excited for that.
Matt Berry: It's probably the only time when you can say that.
Natasia: Yeah. Well, I'm really excited to see a grown man's head on a child's body!
I was actually going to ask about the whole “Baby Colin” situation. Matt, you, specifically, have a lot of scenes with him because you’re almost put into this role of his caretaker. Now knowing that you haven’t actually seen the final “baby” version, I’m curious what it was like for you to film those scenes. How did it look on set when you were doing it?
Matt: Well, all it was was that I was acting with a toddler or a very small person with dots on their face. Sometimes, [my temporary scene partners] were too young to have learned their lines, so they were read off [by someone else]. Sometimes, they were old enough. So that was my season four experience really. But like Tash says, I've got a good feeling about this [season]. I think this one is going to be the best because so many cool things happen within it. I've seen bits and pieces because we've both done a bit of ADR, and it looks fantastic, I’ve got to say.
What We Do in the Shadows has been terrific from the start but it’s been so great to see it grow its fanbase with each new season. FX seems to have noticed this because they renewed the comedy for seasons five and six weeks before season four even premiered. How does it feel to have fans and to know that your network really believes in you?
Natasia: It's sort of crazy. It's a weird thing to get your head around. That people like something that you do enough to [give you the resources to] make more, it's so lovely. Also, we are in England so we're kind of a bit separate. I think the main core fanbase is in North America. So it's amazing, but it's kind of weird.
Matt: Yeah, that’s what I was going to say. I've just come back from two weeks in Los Angeles, which, obviously, I've not been able to go to for the last three years or however long this whole nonsense has been going on. But going over there this time, I was kind of aware of how many people do like the show. Like Tash says, we're in the UK. The show is moderately successful over here, but over there, it's a different game. I didn't get to experience that until going over last week, where there's billboards everywhere and people shout, “Laszlo!” and all of these things.
Nadja and Laszlo have always been two of my favorite characters in the central quintet, especially when it comes to how unrelentingly horny they are for each other. Did either of you come up with a backstory for why your characters are so passionate? I’m assuming it’s not “just a vampire thing” because they're noticeably hornier than Nandor and Colin.
Matt: To be fair, their characters’ adoration for one another came from [series creators] Jemaine [Clement] and Taika [Waititi]. All we did was just take it up two notches and take the eroticism up by, like, ten notches — just because it's funnier, I think. They’re just two people that are into each other and they’re not ashamed of it. That's funny! There's no apologies made. It's like, these two want to fuck all the time and that's what you're going to see.
Natasia: I also think that, if you've been alive for that long, you've seen different governments and you've probably supported different things. You've seen everything: you've seen pandemics, you've seen plagues. You've just seen everything. So, what is going to be that thing that you are most into? Well, it's going to be getting it off, isn't it? It's going to be like, I've been through everything. I've felt all these different things. Now, what is the best thing about being alive? Or at least being undead? It's going to be the good stuff! It’s going to be the bedroom fire dance. It would just be no rules, no nothing — just, Let's have as much pleasure as we possibly can.
Nadja seems to have one goal this season, and that's to open a vampire nightclub. Natasia, where do you see your character's mental state at the beginning of this season? Last season, she served on the Supreme Worldwide Vampiric Council, but the big dreams she had for that job didn't exactly come true. Do you think that disappointment had anything to do with her newfound obsession with opening a vampire night club?
Natasia: I just think she's got aspirations, you know? She's been alive for so long, and I think she probably does have that slight thing that makes me be like, I know! I'll get five cats. You know that thing where you're like, How can I fulfill [myself]? What can I do? I think she wants to be in charge of something. She wants to have created something or have something that’s a bit more [than what she currently has] in her life, I think.
Laszlo's got Baby Colin [this season], and in the last season, he had Colin Robinson as his project. I think Nadja got a taste for having some responsibility with the Vampiric Council. So now, I think she was like, "Not only can I do that, but I could start a really successful nightclub." And, I mean, a nightclub is kind of the perfect place for vampires: it's dark, it's at night, there's never any windows, and there's loads of really drunk people that you can kill and suck their blood!
I remember that when we were filming season three, [writer] Stefani Robinson actually said to me, "I've got two words for you: night club.” And I was like, "No… No!” I just couldn't believe it. But it was honestly so much fun. And I absolutely love how much the vampires in the house love to dance. Me and Matt always talk about this. The moment they hear music, they're just like, "Okay, let's have a boogie!" They're hundreds of years old and they absolutely love a boogie. It's so funny to me.
Matt, how would you describe Laszlo’s current relationship with Colin Robinson? As Natasia mentioned, the two of them formed a special bond in season three. But now, their bond is slightly different because Laszlo is almost like a parental figure to Baby Colin.
Matt: Well, that was kind of thrust upon him. He had no choice, other than to make the kid disappear. He had to bring him up. He's good and he’s bad at it. But what I hope they do is keep the nightclub because I think it's such a great device. Because Laszlo has been so busy raising this kid, he hasn't had a chance to sort of let his hair down in there and watch the sex shows and all that kind of stuff. So I think he's due a bit of time in the nightclub.
Natasia: I agree!
Natasia, I love the dynamic between Nadja and The Guide, who’s played by Kristen Schaal. For the most part, we usually see Nadja interacting with other men, because she’s the only woman in the house, so it feels very refreshing to have this other feminine presence and see how Nadja interacts with another woman. How do you like acting with Kristen and how does it compare to your scenes with mostly men?
Natasia: I love it all really because I think that all the characters are so different. Nandor is such a plunker, like he's such a fool, so I found that really fun to do in season three because he's so hapless. Then, I think Nadja and Guillermo have this slightly bitchy relationship where they sass each other a little bit.
And yeah, doing stuff with Kristen was so fun because [her character] is so pious. She's such a traditionalist and quite conservative as a character, and I think it was really fun to be the sort of chaos, to be the little brat that wants to have the parties and go crazy, while you've also got this pious sweet woman trying to be like, "No, no, no. Maybe don't do that." That was a really fun dynamic to play because, quite often, Nadja is a little bit more sensible than some of the men in the house, I'd say. My character is quite often pointing out the stupid things that they're doing. Whereas, now, I feel like it's sort of flipped, with The Guide being like, "Can I just stop you for a second? Do you want to calibrate on that idea you had?" That was very, very fun. Also, seeing all the nightclubby costumes and the elevation of our wardrobe, that was really fun as well.
One of my favorite character reveals of this season is that Laszlo has a very strong distaste for musical theater, which is so specific and hilarious. Matt, what do you think it is about musical theater that would make Laszlo consider it the lowest art form?
Matt: It's funny because Laszlo is such a musical character. So for him to feel such disgust for a strain of entertainment within the art form is a funny idea. The more it pains him to listen to musical theater, the funnier that could be. But what should have happened is that Baby Colin should’ve insisted that [Laszlo] go with him to watch Cats, and then I'd have had to sit there during Cats. There's still room for that kind of thing, but yeah, you're right: once you find out that a character hates a certain thing, then you can have as much fun as you want.
As we discussed earlier, the show has already been renewed for two more seasons after this one. What would you both love to see for your characters, separately and together?
Matt: We keep saying this, but we'd like for them to be [physically] together. They aren't actually together at all for this season. They look like they are, but they aren't. Nadja is very much in the nightclub and Laszlo is very much trying to bring up the kid. So it'd be good if they were together, whether they were on a road trip or whatever it is. It'd be fun for them to spend some time together, just those two.
Natasia: Yeah. I want something where me and Matt, or where Nadja and Laszlo, go on a road trip or commit a crime together or conspire together again. That would be a really fun thing. I'd love for all the characters to actually go back to their homeland or spend a bit of time in Europe. I'd love for Nadja to meet some of her family or something like that. Meet Laszlo's brother or something. They've got so much history, so it would be like, Where do you even start?
Matt: And Brad Pitt would obviously play my brother.
Natasia: Your ugly duckling brother, of course!
What We Do in the Shadows airs new episodes every Tuesday on FX.