The movie What We Do in the Shadows has just about everything you could want in a vampire comedy. The one thing it’s missing is a female vampire. The TV adaptation corrected that and Natasia Demetriou plays Nadja, the female roommate in the vampire house.
Nadja turns the young Jenna (Beanie Feldstein) and begins training her new vampire early in the series. She’s also involved in the household squabbles and group outings. We met Natasia Demetriou at FX’s What We Do in the Shadows party for the Television Critics Association and spoke with her about the show, which premieres Wednesday, March 27, 2019 at 10pm ET/PT on FX.
How old is Nadja?
Natasia Demetriou: “This is an interesting one. The costume woman, Amanda, the designer who’d been given all the info and stuff, someone told someone that I was 6,000 years old. Then I was like, ‘Wow, that’s old!’ Then according to Jemaine (Clement) and Taika (Waititi), no, I’m not. I’m the oldest in the house. I know that. So I’m going to say 600-700 with amazing skin.”
What funny stuff is coming up for Nadja?
Natasia Demetriou: “I really feel like Nadja is way more prevalent in the later [episodes.] I have bigger things to do in later episodes because I teach Jenna how to be a vampire. There’s much more of a storyline with Gregor. I host an orgy party at the vampire’s house, so there’s lots and lots of stuff coming up.”
Does she make a decision when she’s feeding to either finish Jenna off or make this one her new protege?
Natasia Demetriou: “Oh no, when she’s feeding, she’s feeding. But with Jenna, the thing about Nadja is she’s more clued up than the rest of the other vampires, I think. She loves Laszlo, her husband, played by Matt Berry. She loves him but there’s a slight yearning. Something’s missing. She was never a mother. So I think in Jenna she sees an opportunity to be a mom, be a best friend, be a sister.”
Does that work out well for her?
Natasia Demetriou: “I think, yeah, she absolutely loves it.”
So it’s a good relationship.
Natasia Demetriou: “Yeah, it’s a good relationship, very positive, she loves it. And she adores ‘my sweet little Jenna.'”
Is Nadja able to correct any mistakes she herself made as a young vampire?
Natasia Demetriou: “That’s a good question. I think Nadja was always a vampire. I feel like she was born to be turned into a vampire. So no, she doesn’t make mistakes. Other people make mistakes, she doesn’t.”
With the voice, how did you decide where she’s from and how she talks?
Natasia Demetriou: “My dad’s Cypriot so I borrowed from that and the women in my Greek family. I definitely borrowed a lot from that and just did that wonderful slightly racist generic vampire accent that everyone does.”
Is it difficult to talk with the teeth?
Natasia Demetriou: “They were at first. When I did my first test the teeth fell out, and also absolute nightmare with lipstick. Most of my time is spent on set being checked, opening my mouth and showing the makeup artist my teeth to see if there was lipstick all over them.”
Would that deter you from improvising because it was harder to articulate?
Natasia Demetriou: “No, no, once I’d worn them for a day, I was fine. They’re so well made and comfortable. There’s amazing things happening in the production of fangs, I can tell you. If anyone’s had a invisalign, they’re like two little invisaligns with a fang attached.”
Do you have to do harnesses and wires to fly?
Natasia Demetriou: “Yeah, I did a lot of harnesses, a lot of wires. I loved that stuff but I would just recommend you wear a gel pad so you can still have children after.”
Is it hard to be funny when there’s all that technical stuff?
Natasia Demetriou: “No, I think it was a very intense shoot. We did night shoots but the vibe on set and the atmosphere that was created by the directors and Jemaine and Taika was always so relaxed. I think the style of mockumentary allows you to be really relaxed and you can always do another take. There’s two cameras, so I feel like it was never hard to be funny. Whether I was always funny, that’s for you to decide.
It was like a dream. I’m in this bar that’s made up to look like What We Do in the Shadows. There’s bowls of garlic and I’m losing my sh*t. It’s wild. I can’t believe it. I feel very lucky.”
Were you familiar with the movie?
Natasia Demetriou: “I’ve seen the film and I thought it was rubbish. No, I knew the film and I love Flight of the Conchords, I loved Eagle Vs. Shark.”
What’s your background in comedy?
Natasia Demetriou: “I started out doing live comedy. I was in a sketch group called Oyster Eyes with Phoebe Walsh who’s one of my best friends who’s just written on Four Weddings and a Funeral for Hulu. So. that’s exciting.
So I did live comedy. I did the Edinburgh Festival in England which is a comedy festival, and then I did a double act and I’m writing a sketch show with my double act partner now for the BBC. Me and my brother make a TV show called Stath Lets Flats which is on Channel Four. So I’ve just been a comedy actress and writer for a number of years and then got this audition. Basically I was in a film, I had one line in a film.”
Natasia Demetriou: “Called The Festival, written and directed by Iain Morris and Jemaine’s in that film. One of my best friends, Claudia O’Doherty is in that film so we were all having a dinner, a cast dinner, and very serendipitously I was seated next to Jemaine at this dinner. And I was like, ‘Oh my god, I’m sitting next to Jermaine.’ And then he was like, ‘I know who you are.’ I was like, ‘How do you know who I am?’ He was like, ‘I did a podcast called The Adam Buxton Podcast’ – who’s a British comedian – ‘and I really liked it. And you’re Greek. My wife’s Greek.’
So, we had a lot to talk about. Then six months later I got the audition. I messaged him on Twitter being like, ‘I’m so sorry I did such a bad audition.’ He just messaged me back in true Jemaine style being like, ‘It wasn’t bad. It was excellent.’ And then I got a callback and then I got the part. It was very exciting.”
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