10 things you never knew about What We Do in the Shadows

Alex LaFreniere


Most moviegoers will probably know Taika Waititi as the mad genius behind Marvel’s “Thor: Ragnarok.” Before taking the helm for Marvel, however, Waititi teamed up with comedian Jemaine Clement (“Flight of the Conchords”) to create the darkly funny vampire comedy “What We Do in the Shadows.”

The movie is a mockumentary following a group of immortal vampires living as roommates in modern-day New Zealand. Check out the list below for some little-known bits of trivia about the hysterical film.

10 things you never knew about What We Do in the Shadows

1. One of the stars isn’t actually an actor

what we do in the shadows stu rutherford
Image courtesy Unison Films

In the movie, the vampires meet and hang out with computer analyst Stu. In actuality, Stu is portrayed by Stu Rutherford, a friend of director and star Taika Waititi. Stu (pictured above at left) is a real-life IT guy, and was originally told by Waititi that is role would be a bit part. Waititi intentionally hid the fact that Rutherford was going to be playing a main character so he could get genuine reactions from him onscreen.

2. Much of the movie is improvised

Image courtesy Unison Films

Despite writing a full script, Waititi and co-creator Jemaine Clement opted not to share the script with any of the actors. Instead, the summarized the general ideas of the scenes and let the actors improvise most of their performances and dialogue.

3. It was heavily pirated

what we do in the shadows vladislav
Image courtesy Unison Films

Despite being a box office success, the movie was one of the most pirated films in New Zealand. After a pirate website in the country was shut down, it was revealed that users had downloaded the movie almost 300,000 times, making it one of the country’s most pirated films ever.

4. One of the film’s digital effects took 80 hours to create

what we do in the shadows cast party
Image courtesy Unison Films

One of the simplest effects in the film was also one of the hardest to create. After a fight scene, the characters go to a restaurant to relax. The effects team reportedly had to put over 80 hours of work to remove the vampire’s reflections from the restaurant table.

5. The film was originally slated for a sequel

what we do in the shadows main cast
Image courtesy Unison Films

Not long after the movie premiered, a sequel was reported to be in the works. The sequel would have focused on the group of werewolves that appear in the movie, and would have been shot in a similar style. Unfortunately, due to production issues, the sequel never got off the ground. Instead, the original film was adapted into an excellent TV series that recently premiered on FX.

6. Part of the movie was filmed in a real retirement home

what we do in the shadows petyr
Image courtesy Unison Films

Waititi’s character Viago has a tragic backstory involving a lost lover. Eventually, Viago tracks down his lost love to a nearby retirement home and goes to visit her. To film this scene, the film used a real retirement home, and even enlisted one of the residents to play the role of Viago’s older lover. She was reportedly thrilled to be offered the role, and the crew even put a set of fangs on her dentures.

7. The film has three totally different versions

what we do in the shadows birthday pic
Image courtesy Unison Films

A tremendous amount of film was shot for the movie, clocking in at roughly 150 hours of footage. As such, three versions of the film were cut together: a joke-centric version, a more serious version, and a blend of the two tones. This blended version was selected to be the final cut. Waititi has joked that he wants to release the unused footage on the internet to let fans cut together their own versions of the movie.

8. The levitation effects took a lot of manpower

what we do in the shadows feeding
Image courtesy Unison Films

To create the effect where Viago levitates out of his coffin, real crew members had to lift Waititi to a standing position. Originally, it took four men to do the job, but that number eventually increased to 8 people by the time filming ended.

9. Waititi drew from family for his character

what we do in the shadows taika waititi
Image courtesy Unison Films

Waititi’s character Viago acts as the neurotic disciplinarian for his group of vampire roommates. He often comes across as well-meaning but intensely awkward. Apparently, Waititi didn’t have to look far to find inspiration to draw from. According to him, his portrayal of the character was based on his mother.

10. The ambulance scene is real

what we do in the shadows bloody bathroom
Image courtesy Unison Films

Late in the film, an ambulance arrives after a moment in the park turns gruesome. Originally, Waititi and Clement wanted to cut the scene as they were afraid it would be too complicated. They eventually decided to film the scene at the last minute, and enlisted the help of a real ambulance and crew of paramedics to do so. Apparently, they were happy to be part of the movie, on the condition they would have to leave immediately if a real emergency occurred during filming.

To check out this hilarious movie for yourself, here’s where to stream “What We Do in the Shadows” right now.

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