The latest episode of FX's What We Do in the Shadows pulled off a stunning gathering of famed pop culture vampires, and the creators of the show have revealed how they managed to get it done. Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi first introduced us to this hilarious world of blood-suckers in the 2015 movie of the same name. The show doesn't focus on their characters, but they're still involved as producers. And they're responsible for bringing back lots of famous people to reprise their various roles as famous vampires.
Warning: spoilers ahead for the latest episode of What We Do in the Shadows. Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi reprised their roles as Vladislav and Viago in the episode, titled The Trial. But they wanted to cook up a good reason for their return. Why would vampires from New Zealand show up in New York? Waititi, who directed the episode as well, had this to say about how the idea sprang up in the first place in a recent interview.
"We'd often talk about the idea of the vampires that we knew about somehow being involved. Even the fact that our vampires used to talk about them all the time. Like, it was only mentioned briefly in the film, but my character was kind of obsessed with Blade and sort of fanned out a lot on Blade. In the Unholy Masquerade in the film, he dresses up as Blade and everyone's like, 'No one wants to see Blade at a vampire party, he's a vampire killer!' So it was already kind of in there, and then Jemaine picked up on the idea that we would start with one person like Tilda and then add in all the others. I asked Tilda [Swinton] to do it and she was like, 'Okay, sure.' [Laughs] That was pretty much it."
Tilda Swinton appeared as Eve from Only Lovers Left Alive. The rest of the vampire ensemble was filled out by Evan Rachel Wood as Sophie-Anne from True Blood, Danny Trejo as Razor Charlie from From Dusk Till Dawn and Paul Reubens as Amilyn from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, alongside Wesley Snipes as the titular character from the Blade franchise. But how did they land all of these crazy cameos? They pounded pavement and asked people. Plain and simple. Jemaine Clement explained it like this.
"So we started with Tilda, and it was kind of her idea. We had high hopes she would turn up, even though people were skeptical. People would go, 'Are you sure?' We were pretty sure of that one. Yeah, we had a massive list, and then our casting people went out to lots of people. I've seen Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the movie, but I didn't know Paul Reubens played that character, because he's so in disguise. I didn't realize it was him, but we were excited to get him, because he's such a funny person. We had to wait a while to get Wesley to agree to it. In the writers' room, when the idea came up that someone would be on Skype, I found [that] really funny, from being in lots of meetings where there's one person on Skype, and how disruptive it is to those meetings. So we pushed hard to get him to come. Danny Trejo and I were actually in a movie together."
The episode made references to several people such as "Rob," clearly meaning Robert Pattinson from Twilight, "Kiefer," as in Kiefer Sutherland from The Lost Boys, as well as "Tom and Brad," as in Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt from Interview With the Vampire. Sutherland passed on a cameo. However, Pitt's representatives were open to it. Unfortunately, by the time that came up, they already had a full list of people set to appear. The creators admitted they never followed up, which they joked was "rude." As for the Blade cameo, that was one of the last things filmed and, as it turns out, it was tricky to pull off. Wesley Snipes didn't agree to do it until very late in the process and, even when he did, there were hurdles that needed to be cleared. Executive producer Paul Simms discussed how it went down.
"People kept saying, 'Well, it's easy, all you have to do is Skype in from wherever.' We were just worried about the picture quality being as good as it needed to be. When he finally said he would do it, initially he said, 'Just come over to my house and do it, in Tenafly.' Then, he was like, 'Eh, I don't want all this equipment in my house.' So we rented a hotel room somewhere near where he lives in New Jersey. The funny thing about Wesley was, his people said, 'Don't ask Wesley to wear the dark sunglasses. He doesn't want to wear the dark sunglasses. He doesn't want it to look like Blade, or whatever.' We were all warned not to do that. We had a pair of glasses on standby, but I didn't know if I was going to have the courage to ask him to wear the sunglasses. And then, when Wesley showed up, he was wearing his own sunglasses, which looked cool, and went right into it. So there was nothing to worry about."
The episode also featured a cameo from Guardians of the Galaxy star Dave Bautista, to top everything off. Luckily, this may not be the last epic crossover of this kind. What We Do in the Shadows season 2 has already been ordered by FX and Paul Simms teased in the interview that it "could be" something they explore again. For the full interview, head on over to Entertainment Weekly.