‘What We Do in the Shadows’ Showrunner: Baby Colin Robinson Was ‘Impossible’

‘What We Do in the Shadows’ Showrunner: Baby Colin Robinson Was ‘Impossible’

Published July 13, 2022
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Proma Khosla

2 hours ago

“What We Do in the Shadows”

Pari Dukovic/FX

“What We Do in the Shadows” has never been afraid to get weird.

The FX comedy, based on the film by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, returned Tuesday for its fourth season, with Nandor (Kayvan Novak), Nadja (Natasha Demetriou), Laszlo (Matt Berry) and Guillermo (Harvey Guillén) reunited at their Staten Island mansion. A year after the Season 3 finale, the vampires and their familiar are going in new directions. Nandor searches for a wife, Guillermo is determined to put himself first, and Nadja focuses her efforts on raising money to repair the crumbling house.

“We wanted them all to have gone off on their journeys and done things without each other,” showrunner Paul Simms said about the decision to jump forward one year. “There was some discussion of starting the season with them all off in their different places, but it’s so much more fun when they’re all with each other. We decided it would be more fun to have them all coming back together and describing what they did while they were all apart.”

“A year felt like the right amount of time for Laszlo to completely neglect the care of the mansion to the point that it’s falling apart and the ceilings are caving in,” Simms said. “And for him to have spent a year taking care of the young baby Colin, or the child that came out of the dead Colin’s stomach, whatever it actually is.”

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

IndieWire: What can you tell us about the creature that has crawled out of the chest cavity of the deceased Colin Robinson?

Paul Simms: Well he obviously looks a lot like Colin, he’s obviously a little kid. Laszlo’s goal is to raise him to not be an energy vampire. It’s the nature versus nurture thing. Laszlo is desperate for him to grow up to be an interesting and normal functioning person and not a boring drag on the world, and the question is whether that’s possible or whether he’s fated to do that, whether there’s anything Laszlo can change. That’s sort of what we — I would say examined through the season, but it makes it sound like a college thesis or something. That’s what we do a lot of jokes about through the season!

From a more technical angle, what are the logistics of filming and executing Boy?

Impossible. Just trying to figure out how to solve impossible problems on a daily or hourly basis. I mean, it’s one thing to write on a note card “then we have a little kid Colin running around,” but we had to throw every trick and TV and filmmaking technique at it. Some of it is digital stuff, obviously a ton of it is real performance. Some of it is wigs, some of it is camera angles. There didn’t seem to be one approach that worked for every single shot, so our directors, Kyle Newacheck and Yana Gorskaya had to figure out just based on each shot: How is this one going to work and how are we going to make it somewhat convincing?

He looks pretty uncanny, but it reminds me of the Nadja doll where it does fit with the visual language of the show.

Yeah. On a super realistic show about a bunch of people hanging out I don’t think it would work, but we do have so many other sort of supernatural and semi-uncanny characters in the show that I think it fits in fine.

Multiple actors are credited for playing Boy, why is that?

Obviously Mark [Proksch] is the boy, and then we have a whole squad of little kids, each of whom had their own thing that they were particularly good at. One was a very good dancer, one was very good at walking and listening, one was good at just being a normal sort of awkward kid. I wouldn’t say if we had to do it again I wouldn’t try it, but the difficulty level was so high that we’re still even finishing and tweaking it.

How has the boy impacted Laszlo? He seems to be very controlling, but I imagine like the original Colin Robinson, he might have a soft spot for him.

I think he does. That was one of the fun things about the previous season is that we had Laszlo and Colin sort of being buddies, and it was perfect because we wanted people to go like, “This makes no sense! These two would never be friends.” Laszlo is arrogant and irascible and Colin is annoying. Why are those two together? But we knew in our minds the whole time that there was a reason why Laszlo was being so nice to him and it is because Laszlo does have a soft spot.

Look, I wouldn’t want any parent to treat their kid the way Laszlo treats baby Colin, but there is obviously also an affection there. As the season progresses you see more of Laszlo talking about how he was treated as a child and really in his own weird way wanting what’s best for baby Colin. But it’s also funny because of all the characters he’s the one most absolutely unsuited to be in charge of a child or raise a child.

Will we learn more about energy vampires this season?

Yes, you will. You’ll learn a lot more about Colin and baby Colin. Whether we’ll have the full answer finally of where they come from, I don’t think so, but look, we know they exist. Real vampires might not exist, but we do know that energy vampires exist.

“What We Do in the Shadows” airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on FX. Episodes are available the next day on Hulu.

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This Article is related to: Television and tagged FX, Paul Simms, TV Interviews, What We Do in the Shadows