What Do We Do 'In The Shadows'? Dishes, Mostly Jemaine Clement, famed Flight of the Conchords member, is now a vampire. He and co-star/director Taika Waititi play squabbling bloodsucker flatmates in the new mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows.
NPR logo

What Do We Do 'In The Shadows'? Dishes, Mostly

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/384322018/384695800" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
What Do We Do 'In The Shadows'? Dishes, Mostly

What Do We Do 'In The Shadows'? Dishes, Mostly

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/384322018/384695800" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


Vampires. We all know about the cool stuff they get to do - carousing all night, wearing capes, biting necks, living for centuries. But at the end of the day, what is vampire life really like?


JEMAINE CLEMENT: (As Vladislav) The point is, Deacon, that you have not done the dishes for five years.

TAIKA WAITITI: (As Viago) Vladislav is right. It's unacceptable to have so many bloody dishes all over this bench like that.

CLEMENT: (As Vladislav) I'm so embarrassed when people come over here.

JONATHAN BRUGH: (As Deacon) What does it matter? You bring them over, you kill them.

MARTIN: (Laughter). Yes, even vampires have domestic squabbles. That is a scene from "What We Do In The Shadows" appropriately opening Friday the 13 in New York and Los Angeles. The film stars Jemaine Clement, who you might know from "Flight Of The Conchords." And Clement plays the vampire Vladislav, who happens to be 862 years old. Taika Waititi plays the younger flatmate, Viago, who is a sprightly 379 years old.

Clement and Waititi are co-writers and directors of the mockumentary. They join us from our studios at NPR West. Thanks for being with us you guys.

CLEMENT: Thank you.

WAITITI: Thank you for having us.


MARTIN: So how did this come to be? You're just sitting around one day, and you thought, you know, we really need to do something on the daily struggles of vampire life.

WAITITI: That's exactly what happened.

CLEMENT: We just needed to do something.

MARTIN: (Laughter).

CLEMENT: Yeah. We had two kind of ideas at the same time. One was to do a vampire film about, you know, the struggles of vampires that go on for hundreds of years. And another one was to do a mockumentary about something you couldn't document.

MARTIN: And the two, you thought you could marry them?

CLEMENT: We have married them and made this unholy union.

MARTIN: (Laughter) Have you done vampire work before?

CLEMENT: Yes, I've done a lot of vampire work.

MARTIN: (Laughter).

CLEMENT: No, I - couple of times played vampires.

MARTIN: Really?

WAITITI: This was my first time.

CLEMENT: Well, OK, I was in a short film playing a vampire.

WAITITI: What was his name?

CLEMENT: His name was something like Dra Cula (ph). I also started a vampire getting when I was 10. And we would ride around on bikes wearing plastic teeth.

MARTIN: No you didn't.

CLEMENT: Trying to - I did. I did.

MARTIN: Really?

CLEMENT: The vampires. You've heard of us?

MARTIN: (Laughter).

CLEMENT: That was me.

MARTIN: In Wellington, we're talking about? Did you grow up in Wellington?

CLEMENT: In Masterton, New Zealand, a small town near Wellington.

MARTIN: So this film does take place in Wellington in New Zealand. Are there a lot of vampires? Is there a vampire culture there?

CLEMENT: You'd be surprised. We were dressed as vampires walking around. And surprising how much we fit in.


CLEMENT: (As Vladislav) Tonight we are going out into Wellington central. It is important that we look good.

WAITITI: (As Viago) Yes, really good. Yeah. I like it. One of the unfortunate things about not having a reflection is that you don't know exactly what you look like.

MARTIN: Let's talk about this housing situation. These vampires are sharing a house with each other because presumably no one else wants to room with them?

CLEMENT: Well, they're just...

WAITITI: It's very dangerous advertising for flatmates if you're a vampire. You never know if it's a vampire hunter who's going to move in. Also, you've got to be very understanding if you move in with vampires, you know. They don't get up till 6 p.m..

CLEMENT: And they'll eat you. And, you know, if you've been alive for hundreds of years, it's likely that you're money might be dwindling if you haven't invested.

MARTIN: That's a good question. How are these guys living? We never quite get to how they make income.

CLEMENT: It's night to night. It really is. These poor guys.

WAITITI: It's a mixture of hypnotizing landlords, selling off antiques.

CLEMENT: Fortunately, they found eBay now. So, you know, that's helpful for them.

MARTIN: Jemain's character, Vladislav - it's kind of, like, a classic Transylvania accent.

CLEMENT: Yeah, I think he grew up near Vlad the impailer. Wasn't quite as successful, but notorious in his own way.


CLEMENT: (As Vladislav) We are trying to attract victims to us.

BRUGH: (As Deacon) Not sure about the waist coat.

CLEMENT: (As Vladislav) I go for a look which I call dead but delicious. We are the bait, but we are also the trap.

WAITITI: (As Viago) Hello ladies.

MARTIN: Viago, this is...


MARTIN: ...This is your character Taika.

WAITITI: Oh, sorry. Thought I was in character.

MARTIN: He's German.

WAITITI: I guess. It's as close to German accent as I can do. It was a bit of a mishap with the postage on his coffin, and it took a long time for him to get to New Zealand from Europe.

MARTIN: Traveled in his coffin?

WAITITI: Well, you have to.


WAITITI: You travel in your coffin, the coffin you were buried in. And then you have to put a bit of dirt, a little bit of soil from your home country.

CLEMENT: That's the thing with vampires, there are so many rules.

WAITITI: It's such a hassle being a vampire. Just to travel is a hassle.

MARTIN: (Laughter).

WAITITI: You've got to get...

CLEMENT: Get in the coffin. Get a little dirt from your grave.

WAITITI: A few travel vials of blood for the trip, some snacks.

CLEMENT: There's a suprising amount of scheduling involved in being a vampire.

MARTIN: (Laughter) Not all the main characters are vampires. I think it's OK to call Stu a main character. He's...


MARTIN: He's a big guy. He has an important role.


STUART RUTHERFORD: (As Stu) Basically we take, like, business requirements from organizations, and we analyze those requirements. And then we build software to fit those requirements.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #1: (As character) He is a virgin. He's a virgin.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #2: (As character) I can smell a virgin at a thousand paces.

CLEMENT: In real, Stu is an IT guy. He's just a really nice guy. In the movie, he's an IT guy called Stu who's a really nice guy.

WAITITI: He's the one who actually helps us - helps the vampires with introducing them to the Internet and setting them up with a computer and a cell phone so they can text message and stuff.


CLEMENT: (As Vladislav) Nice.

RUTHERFORD: (As Stu) If you push images, then we can see pictures of virgins.

WAITITI: (As Viago) Oh yeah, yeah.

WAITITI: He's the one that kind of like opens the doors to the modern world, and actually, incidentally that's what he did in real life with us as well.

MARTIN: Oh, really?

WAITITI: Introduced us...

CLEMENT: He also helps us with our computers.

MARTIN: With your IT problems? (Laughter)

WAITITI: Yeah. He set up the wireless router at my mom's house a couple years ago.

MARTIN: That's not true.

WAITITI: He did.

MARTIN: So I personally got invested in these characters. Like, I cared what was going to happen to them, how they were going to live out their many centuries. Any sequel in the works?

CLEMENT: We're going to do sequels for the next 200 years following them. And we're going to catch up every 100 years. We'll probably be dead, but our children will take on the task of following them.

MARTIN: The film is called "What We Do In The Shadows." It opens this coming Friday in New York and Los Angeles. Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement, co-directors and actors, stars really, of "What We Do In The Shadows." Thanks you two.

WAITITI: Thank you.

CLEMENT: Well, thank you.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.