‘What We Do in the Shadows’ – Harvey Guillen Exclusive Interview

What We Do in the Shadows Harvey Guillen
Harvey Guillen as Guillermo in ‘What We Do in the Shadows’ (Photo by Matthias Clamer/FX)

It’s not easy being the only human in a house full of vampires. Guillermo (Harvey Guillén) has been a loyal servant for 10 years and all he hears are promises that one day he’ll be turned into a vampire himself. ‘What we do in the shadows’ is lead poor Guillermo on.

FX’s adaptation of the movie What We Do In the Shadows introduces a new house of vampire roommates in New York. Playing the lone human in the group, Harvey Guillén spoke with Showbiz Junkies at FX’s What We Do In The Shadows party for the Television Critics association. The show premieres March 27, 2019 at 10pm ET/PT on FX.

On the panel they said they incorporated the clothes you wore to the audition into the costume. Have you chosen more costumes for later episodes?

Harvey Guillén: “After the pilot, we changed costume designers. Our costume designer came on board and did episode two until the end. She’s been very good about asking me. She’s very clever about the textile or material she chooses and foreshadowing things. It’s a good conversation.”

What funny stuff is coming up for Guillermo?

Harvey Guillén: “A lot of funny stuff. Actually, we’re going to dive into where he comes from and what are his limits. What makes him snap?”

10 years of promises and not being turned isn’t the breaking point?

Harvey Guillén: “You know what it is? I think at the end of the pilot he starts questioning, he’s playing by the book, if it’s worth it to him. That opening of the curtain and realizing he has more power than he gives himself, so it’s kind of a revelation for him.”

If Guillermo could be a vampire but could only be an energy vampire, would that be good enough for him?

Harvey Guillén: “Oh, I don’t think that’s the goal that he had in mind. I think he had the goal of blood and fangs and flying, the things that he grew up watching with Antonio Banderas. Those are the things he idolizes, so I don’t think that would suffice.”

It’s funny he’s so obsessed with Interview with the Vampire. Did you live through that in the’90s with the whole Anne Rice/Tom Cruise controversy?

Harvey Guillén: “I remember watching Interview with the Vampire. Someone asked me, ‘What’s your favorite vampire movie?’ and my first memory of a vampire movie was Interview with the Vampire which is ironic because I come full circle. I think I subconsciously know Guillermo well because I watched it as a child and I said, ‘That’s so cool.’ Not to the extent that I really wanted to be a vampire but ‘how cool is it to be a vampire and fly and what not?’

Now here I am playing a person who idolizes that movie and Antonio Banderas. It’s come full circle for me. I was like, ‘Whoa, this is so great because I love Interview with the Vampire. Guillermo loves it too.’”

What We Do in the Shadows
Kayvan Novak as Nandor, Harvey Guillen as Guillermo, Matt Berry as Laszlo in ‘What We Do in the Shadows’ (Photo by John P Johnson/FX)

This is only the beginning of the season. Do you see it as a will they/won’t they where you don’t want to turn too soon?

Harvey Guillén: “I thought about that. I thought about the whole idea if he became a vampire, where would we go from there? The possibilities are obviously we could take it somewhere. Then I thought about it more and I was thinking how the storyline could change at any moment. By the cliffhanger for season one, you’ll find a reason why he was longing to be part of that world so bad.”

What if the werewolves offered to turn him? Would that be tempting?

Harvey Guillén: “I don’t think so. No offer would come. If you commit yourself 10 years and your whole life to something and someone came with an offer, unless it surpassed being a vampire, and I don’t think it does for him. I think a werewolf is great but it doesn’t have that Victorian and gothic feel to it that he longs for. He longs for the dramatic. He isn’t getting that in his real life. Sometimes I feel like Guillermo escapes his real life by fantasizing about what his afterlife could be, his eternal life.”

What’s your background in comedy?

Harvey Guillén: “I do improv. I grew up doing Second City, UCB, all that stuff.”

Are you pushing to go off script more?

Harvey Guillén: “I’ve been trained to stay on script because for so long I’ve been punished for going off script. They’re like, ‘Don’t do that. Stay on the book, stay on the book, do the book.’ This is the first time I’ve actually been given liberty so I feel so at ease with this cast and with this production where I don’t fear that if I say something that’s not in the script I’m going to get reprimanded. Sometimes the gold comes out of that.”