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What We Do in the Shadows: Harvey Guillén on Guillermo-Nandor Stanning

Nandor (Kayvan Novak), Guillermo (Harvey Guillén), Laszlo (Matt Berry), and Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) face an uncertain Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch)-free future heading into the third season finale of FX's What We Do in the Shadows, "The Portrait" (directed by Yana Gorskaya, and written by Sam Johnson & Stefani Robinson & Paul Simms & Lauren Wells). As if that wasn't bad enough, Nandor is still raging through his mid-immortal-life crisis, choosing to make like Caine in Kung Fu and "walk the earth" to get his groove back. Needless to say, this is "from frying pan to fire" news for Guillermo, who was having a hard enough time dealing with a "super clumber" (at least Nandor was still in the house). So with the season wrapping up this week and filming on the fourth season underway, Guillén took some time to speak with Vulture about the Guillermo-Nandor dynamic, his character's evolution, Guillermo's sexuality & representation, and more.

Guillermo in the season 2 finale of What We Do in the Shadows (Image: FX)
Guillermo in the season 2 finale of What We Do in the Shadows (Image: FX)

Here are some of the highlights (and here's a look back at Bleeding Cool's conversation with Guillén here and here):

Guillén on Why Nandor & Guillermo's Dynamic Works So Well: "I think everyone's cheering for something to happen, whether that's romantic or [having] some truth be told — what is their dynamic? And what is the bond that they have? I'm very blessed to have a counterpart like Keyvan, where we're both so comfortable in the characters and Keyvan's such a giving actor. We're making a comedy, but at the end of the day, their storyline is what grounds the humanity, because it's a split 50-50 between someone who's immortal and no longer is worried about time, and someone for whom the clock is ticking, and needs to either make a choice to be immortal himself or to make a choice and live a life that doesn't include this world."

That Said, Guillén Understands Fans Hanign Onto Every Development- and Wanting More: "It's really a tough situation to be in, and it's a fork in the road. Even when I'm reading the scripts, it feels very, 'Oh my God, what's gonna happen?' Because it's a slow burn with them. And I think people are like, 'No, do something! Either be together or not be together or say something!' Or is one of you not into it? Or maybe it's not even love like that? Maybe it's a love between two males, and we normalize two males having affection for each other without making it sexualized? That could be a possibility. It's just, what is it? I think everyone's just eager to know, like, 'Tell us what it is!'"

Guillermo Has Evolved as a Character But He's No Victim- and That's Important: "It's important to feel that you're represented and feel that you're cheering for a character that isn't the victim, that their queer storyline doesn't define how tragic the outcome of their life is. Because we've seen that for so long in media, in the way that queer people are portrayed, and it's very black-and-white. You're either fabulous and the best friend and over-the-top, or you're like, 'Oh, he came out and then, tragically, they kill him.' It's been so black-and-white for so long. That's not the world we live in, and that's definitely not the lifestyle and life that are led by our queer brothers and sisters. I've always said, everyone in the show, the characters are queer, but the vampires, they have nothing to lose. They could chop your heart out or bite you or snap your neck. There's no fear. The difference with Guillermo is he doesn't talk about sexuality. He has this fear that's been placed on him by society, this fear that's been placed on him maybe by his culture, his upbringing. There's fear that we all overcome to be our authentic selves, and that's why it's so freeing when that opportunity happens.

Guillermo Stays Because That "Group of Assholes" is His Family: "As much as Guillermo has his own dreams and aspirations, he's made a monster, in the sense of Nandor being helpless. He could be 'The Relentless,' because he never relents, but may not be the smartest in some scenarios, where he needs a human like Guillermo to get him out of a pickle. And that's why he sticks around. Remember, he walked away from the household at the end of season two, and decided to go back and save them. He could've left them; he owes them nothing. They think they owe him a life of immortality because he wants to be a vampire, and they never saw that through, and they promised. So he could have been an asshole about it and said, 'That's not my problem.' He puts himself in the middle of a room of vampires to save the group of assholes that he's learned to love and made into his chosen family for over a decade.

Guillermo's Not Going Big Bad- But He's Understanding More & More How to Play the Game (& His Roomies): "I like the idea that we introduce a Machiavellian approach to his technique because he's tried so many things for ten years: He's tried to do things by the book, he's tried to play by the rules, and he's not getting anywhere. They say nice guys finish last, and he's starting to realize modesty is a virtue, but in this world, modesty can hurt you. You need to speak up, you need to say what you're owed, you need to be paid a certain wage, you deserve a promotion. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and for so long, he's been so submissive that they dismiss him, like, 'Whatever, you're always going to be there.' And I see that, sadly, in a lot of other professions."

And in case you haven't heard, Guillen also hosts the After The Shadows after-show, which now has a mess load of episodes online. In the first, Guillen welcomes Kristen Schaal (The Guide) to discuss the season-opener. Following that, Novak and Aida Turturro checked in to discuss their episode & more. From there, production designer Shayne Fox takes viewers behind the scenes of the series. Then, the fivesome's favorite neighbors Anthony Antranik & Marissa Jaret Winokur stopped by. Then on to Doug Jones checked in to discuss The Baron's return before a look behind the make-up and into the talented mind of Paul Jones, the show's Prosthetic Makeup Designer. Then last week, the very talented & very hilarious (and very persuasive) Cree Summer joined the show. This week, costume designer Laura Montgomery stops by to discuss the show's wardrobe and look:

From Guillermo (Guillén)outing himself as a kickass vampire slayer and our vamps' new status as bigwigs within the vampire community to Colin's (Proksch) 100th birthday, wellness cults, Nandor's "eternal life crisis", and a whole ton more, here's a look at the third season's official trailer:

What We Do in the Shadows, based on the feature film by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, documents the nightly exploits of vampire roommates Nandor (Kayvan Novak), Nadja (Natasia Demetriou), Laszlo (Matt Berry) and Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) as they navigate the modern world of Staten Island with the help of their human familiar, Guillermo (Harvey Guillén).

After the shocking season two finale, we find the housemates in a panic about what to do with Guillermo after discovering that he is a vampire killer. This season, the vampires are elevated to a new level of power and will encounter the vampire from which all vampires have descended, a tempting Siren, gargoyles, werewolf kickball, Atlantic City casinos, wellness cults, ex-girlfriends, gyms and supernatural curiosities galore. Plus, Colin Robinson is turning 100. And Nandor, faced with his own eternal-life crisis, tries to inject his life with more meaning. Will he find love or is he destined to be an immortal bachelor with 37 ex-wives?

what we do in the shadows
Image: Screencap

Created by Clement and produced by FX Productions, What We Do in the Shadows stars Kayvan Novak as Nandor, Natasia Demetriou as Nadja, Matt Berry as Laszlo, Mark Proksch as Colin Robinson, and Harvey Guillén as Guillermo. Clement, Waititi, and Paul Simms serve as executive producers, alongside Scott Rudin, Garrett Basch, Eli Bush, and Stefani Robinson.

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Ray FlookAbout Ray Flook

Serving as Television Editor since 2018, Ray began five years earlier as a contributing writer/photographer before being brought onto the core BC team in 2017.
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