For three seasons, FX's vampire comedy What We Do in the Shadows has followed a coven of European vampires living on Staten Island, New York, as they struggle with the foibles of modern life. At the heart of this coven is the longtime married couple Lazlo Cravensworth and Nadja of Antipaxos, portrayed by Matt Berry and Natasia Demetriou, respectively. With Season 4's production underway, and WWDITS Season 3 finale nearing its premiere, Lazlo and Nadja have plenty of vampiric mayhem ahead of them.
In a roundtable discussion attended by CBR and other outlets at NYCC 2021, Berry and Demetriou shared their favorite moments from What We Do in the Shadows Season 3 and revealed where they found inspiration for their beloved vampire roles.
Berry observed that Season 3 took the opportunity to play more with interpersonal dynamics between the main cast but didn't feel as though he was working with his co-stars significantly more than usual. Demetriou and Berry were immensely grateful to resume work on the series during the COVID-19 pandemic. Demetriou praised the production for implementing proper health protocols and taking them seriously, allowing work to continue uninterrupted by health scares.
Demetriou was particularly effusive about a Season 3 episode that saw the vampires take a vacation to Atlantic City, where Nadja partied with a faux Rat Pack. "It was probably one of my favorite episodes to film," she said. "We went to Niagara Falls which doubled up as Atlantic City."
Demetriou praised the recurring cast that joined the vampires as human tourists, including Anthony Atamanuik, for being so naturally hilarious and offering variety from the vampires' outlook. "They are so different from us, with their voices and characters, it was so much fun and a bit of change," she said. "Anthony is one of the best improvisers in the world so to just sit and watch him come up with stuff is a dream come true, it was so great!"
"My favorite thing to have done is make a pass at Sean, the neighbor played by Anthony, because of how he looks," Berry said. "It would be too obvious to have Lazlo make a pass at a male model-type. The fact that it's the bloke next door -- that was our idea. It wasn't in the script. We had this dialogue and felt that I should just lean over to come for a kiss. That was a lot of fun because it wasn't the usual sort of womanizing whenever Lazlo is DTF."
Demetriou explained that British comedy series usually run for one or two seasons. With What We Do in the Shadows running for at least four, there's more opportunity for her to understand her character on an intuitive, instinctual level. Demetriou noted that the longer lifespan of the show has allowed the production to push the story and characters more and helped her and Berry further build upon their own characters' dynamic as a married couple, which both Demetriou and Berry find "so much fun."
Berry added that WWDITS' set design -- more so than the makeup or wardrobe -- is what informs his approach to Lazlo. "Whenever I get to set, it completely takes me back to get into the mindset and these sets are incredible, they're like a movie set," Berry noted. He praises the art department and set design for their hard work, especially with the Vampiric Council's headquarters becoming such a prominent setting in Season 3.
Demetriou concurred, stating that she hadn't seen such lavish production values for a television project before. Demetriou praised the Chamber of Curiosities, in particular, comparing it to the expansive museums seen in the United Kingdom.
The discussion then turned to Lazlo's alter ego in Season 2, Jackie Daytona, a persona he developed to hide from an ancient vampire looking to collect an old debt. "I loved it," Berry said. "It was as much fun as it gets! As long as they get one in the bag as it's written, you can then mix that shit up if you want to. Not everybody wants to do that sort of thing but we enjoy doing that and we get to that stage very quickly."
Demetriou added that she and Berry constantly add obscure British references when improvising together while filming. Berry noted that he's always surprised what references and nods to past British comedic series make it in the final edit for each episode. Demetriou teased that the cast included a Lovejoy reference, with Berry adding that many of these allusions are short quotes that are easily cut if scenes run too long.
For inspiration in approaching their performances, Demetriou looked to the Greek side of her family and their struggles with pronouncing the nuances of the English language. This choice, coupled with Demetriou's conversations with series creator and executive producer Jemaine Clement, led to how Demetriou crafted her performance as Nadja.
Berry saw Lazlo as a depressed British aristocrat from a bygone era that was broken free from the tedious nature of life by becoming undead, with "everything up for grabs" in regards to now having the opportunity to do all he ever wanted to do "in a despicable way." He cited that the fantasy, supernatural world lets them all be more uninhibited versions of themselves.
Created by Jemaine Clement, What We Do in the Shadows airs Thursdays on FX and Hulu.