‘What We Do in the Shadows’ – Kayvan Novak Exclusive Interview on FX’s New Vampire Comedy

What We Do in the Shadows Kayvan Novak
Kayvan Novak as Nandor in ‘What We Do in the Shadows’ (Photo by Matthias Clamer / FX)

If you liked the New Zealand comedy film What We Do In The Shadows, you’ll be happy to know there are more vampires living together with a film crew following them. FX’s new series What We Do In The Shadows follows a group of bloodsuckers in New York.

Kayvan Novak plays Nandor, a warrior who has to put up with much lamer vampires for roommates. Novak is British but created a more ancient sounding voice for Nandor. We spoke with Novak at FX’s What We Do In The Shadows party for the Television Critics Association. The show premieres Wednesday, March 27, 2019 at 10pm ET/PT on FX.

What funny stuff is coming up on What We Do In The Shadows?

Kayvan Novak: “We’ve got a werewolf episode. We all get together.”

Do your vampires have the same animosity towards werewolves as the New Zealand ones?

Kayvan Novak: “Yeah, there’s a rivalry there definitely. I don’t know how many episodes I can give away. There’s loads of good sh*t, man.”

How did you come up with your vampire voice?

Kayvan Novak: “Because I love the movie and I read it, I was like this character’s kind of a mix of Taika (Waititi’s) character and Jemaine (Clement’s). He’s goofy but he’s a warrior. So I did my goofy warrior voice and it felt right with the script. And I just did the audition and I got the part and they never told me to change it.”

It’s a comedy. Do they ever let you be badass?

Kayvan Novak: “Yeah, there are some badass moments, definitely. Actually, Jemaine would sometimes have to remind me that I am a badass because naturally as a comedian you go against the badass and you just go towards goofy.”

Have you ever done wires and harnesses before?

Kayvan Novak: “I’ve never done that and I really enjoyed it. The stunt team in Toronto are amazing, totally just lovely to work with and professional, super professional, very cool.”

Is it hard to be funny when you’re doing that technical work?

Kayvan Novak: “When your balls are being crushed, yeah, you get past the pain barrier and you can muster your comic muscle.”

What scene did you audition with?

Kayvan Novak: “It was a monologue. It was one of the talking heads, you know, when they do the interviews to camera. It was a long one of those.”

What We Do in the Shadows
Kayvan Novak and Harvey Guillen in ‘What We Do in the Shadows’ (Photo by John P Johnson / FX)

What was the first time you got to try on your costume?

Kayvan Novak: “Doing the pilot, loads of costumes. And then in the series the costumes just got bigger and better and more amazing.”

Are they all comfortable or do you have to suffer for the comedy?

Kayvan Novak: “No, I really enjoyed wearing my costumes. They’re big and heavy but it was wintertime in Toronto so I was kind of grateful for it.”

Do you have a background in comedy?

Kayvan Novak: “Yeah, I started off as a straight actor and then in 2007, I made a show that won a BAFTA. It was basically a crank call show. It was animated, called Fonejacker. I did two seasons of that. Then we made a spinoff called Facejacker where I would play the characters that I played on the telephone but with heavy prosthetics in real life situations. Did two seasons of that, so that was kind of my career up to that point.

Those were the best things I’ve done and I did a couple comedy movies. I did another series for Channel Four. This kind of playing a character far removed from myself in a semi-improvisational environment but that’s also scripted, it’s like the best of everything I’ve done in one job.”

So you’ve done voices before.

Kayvan Novak: “Yeah, I’ve been doing voices since I was five years old.”

When you’re with the whole group is there a good balance of sharing the funny lines with all your castmates?

Kayvan Novak: “It’s all there in the script, really. I guess we give Jemaine enough options that he’ll go away in the edit and everyone will get a bite of the cake.”