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Jemaine Clement


With the vampire mockumentary What We Do In The Shadows hitting cinemas this week, we sat down and had a chat with one of the vampiric housemates.  Best known as one half of the music comedy duo Flight Of The Conchords, actor Jemaine Clement gets his chance to be a suave, seductive, and dangerous creature of the night in the role of Vladislav The Poker, as well as the more mundane work of writing, directing and producing his first movie (alongside co-star and long time friend, Taika Waititi).

What We Do In The Shadows has been a long time in coming. It initially grew out of Clement’s fascination with the vampire genre at an early age, when he and his friends “…used to ride around on bikes with plastic teeth speaking in Transylvanian accents.” His love of such classic vampire films as The Lost Boys, Salem’s Lot, Interview With The Vampire, Dracula and Nosferatu (all of which are referenced in the movie) grew into an idea, and finally into film. “I wanted to do something looking at the perspective of someone living through hundreds of years. So it’s a bit like Highlander in that regard, too.” Eventually this idea coalesced into the current form, when co-writer (and director) Waititi suggested the mockumentary format. Eight years and one short film (as a proof of concept) later, the idea finally has finally made it to the big screen.

Shooting over the course of five weeks, Clement and Waititi allowed the actors to improvise many of the scenes, to keep a spontaneous feel to the piece. “We had a script,” said Clement, “We just didn’t allow the actors to see it. The hardest thing was editing down the 150 hours of footage to movie length.”

Oddly enough, the strangest thing to happen during filming didn’t even make it into the final cut. In a sequence in which the housemates are saying farewell to a fallen friend, the prop of his burnt copse went missing. “It was dark and we were all improvising a vampire funeral, and the body floated out to sea. The next day someone had to put out a statement explaining if someone did find a pile of charred bones washed up, that they shouldn’t be too worried. It still hasn’t been found yet – but when it is, we’d like it back.”

Vampires are far from the only dangerous, suave and overly theatrical role Clement has had this year, as he once again stole the show reprising the voice of the villainous cockatoo in Rio 2. “If you have any kids around, that’s how they know me. Kids three to six will know me as Nigel.” As for the camp roles? “I’m not sure if I am offered those roles, or tend to push it in that direction with my over-acting.” he jokes.


Get down to Luna Leederville this Friday, September 5, for a special screening of What We Do In The Shadows and a Q & A with co-star and co-director, Taika Waititi. For tickets, head here.

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