Actor is sinking his teeth into a dream comedy role
KAYVAN Novak dons a cape for his latest role, but he's no superhero.
The British actor and comedian stars in the new TV adaptation of What We Do in the Shadows.
Based on Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement's 2014 mockumentary film of the same name, the series follows the daily (or rather, nightly) lives of four vampires who've lived together for over 100 years in Staten Island, New York.
"It was kind of daunting because you're following on from a hit movie that you love," he says. "You feel the pressure of continuing that tradition. It's a passing on of the torch."
Novak plays Nandor The Relentless - a great warrior and conqueror from the Ottoman Empire who still lives by the old ways and isn't taken seriously by his room mates.
"Sometimes you get a lot of success at a certain point in your life and you become frozen in time. Nandor is like a goofy Keith Richards," he says.
"When he was 23 he was pillaging and being the 'relentless' conqueror, and he has remained that way visually. But his mind,he has softened. He is a little more clueless about how to keep up with the 21st Century, which is what makes him endearing...he's a soft-centred, mass-murdering warrior."
To portray Nandor's vampiric powers, Novak was required to do a lot of wire stunts.
"I'd never done any wire work so being strapped in various harnesses and dangling three storeys up on the side of a building and trying to do some comedy acting with a crosswind is a lot to take on board," he says.
"I love the process of how we made this. The sets and costume is so immersive. You're wearing fangs, you've got a goofy hairstyle, there are candles everywhere, you're being filmed on a hand-held camera and you can look down the lens. There was a sense of freedom and fluidity. It always felt fresh like you were inventing. It would evolve and getting funnier and funnier until they said 'We've got that'."
Novak struck up an instant chemistry with Harvey Guillen, who plays Nandor's human sidekick Guillermo. Known as a familiar, Guillermo is at Nandor's beck and call in the hopes of being turned into a vampire.
"The characters have been together for 10 years," he says. "It feels like Harvey's character is very much in love with Nandor and what Nandor can bring to him.
"He recognises that Nandor needs him as much as he needs Nandor. It's a co-dependency, which is healthy or unhealthy depending on how you take your co-dependence."
With Waititi and Clement back on board as directors, Novak assures fans the TV adaptation is in safe hands.
"If you're a fan of the original then you're going to love this series," he says.
"There are new characters created by the same people who made the film. It has the same sensibility and tone, but the world has expanded and there are some wonderful surprises along the way."
What We Do in the Shadows airs Tuesdays at 9pm on Fox Showcase.