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Opening speeches at a Q&A session:
Jemaine Clement’s Kiwi vampire film
25th June, in Celebrity
Forty going on 14 – that’s how actor Jemaine Clement feels working in Hollywood. Despite starring in a number of big-budget productions, and counting A-listers Paul Rudd, Tina Fey and Will Smith among his former co-stars, the Kiwi still can’t get to grips with life in the fast lane and admits to feeling “like a kid” in Tinseltown.
“It’s like I’m on work experience on one of those big movies,” he explains with a chuckle. “I’m meant to be a professional, but it’s like I’m still watching and learning.”
The Masterton-born actor, who first found international fame with his renowned TV show Flight of the Conchords, has worked on everything from animated features Rio and Despicable Me to US indie films.
But it’s back at home, working among fellow Kiwi comics, where he feels most comfortable.
What We Do in the Shadows, sees him reunited with Eagle vs Shark director Taika Waititi.
Jemaine’s latest release, What We Do in the Shadows, sees him reunited with Eagle vs Shark director Taika Waititi and a number of Kiwi comedy stars, including Rhys Darby, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer and Johnny Brugh.
The mockumentary-horror-comedy follows four senile vampires living in a Wellington flat and the challenges they face, including dressing without a reflection and getting into pubs.
Based on a short film the pair wrote and directed in 2006, Jemaine says it took six years for cameras to start rolling on a feature-length version.
“We had the cast signed on from day one, and it must have seemed to them like we were never going to get it done. The years would go by and they’d ask, ‘Are we still doing that movie?’ Nearly six years later, we actually got it started.”
Blood brothers: The star reunites with good friend Taika in vampire film What We Do in the Shadows.
The pair fleshed out the script over “a number of years and email chains”. Jemaine puts the time delay down, in part, to a busy schedule abroad and also to his close bond with Taika, who he first worked with in the early 1990s as a duo called The Humourbeasts.
“We have a similar sense of humour,” he explains. “It’s easy for us to hang out and not do anything. We had to be vigilant to keep the workload up.”
What We Do in the Shadows premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, and was met with positive reviews from critics. It was Jemaine’s first time watching the finished film and he says it was a “big relief” to hear the applause.
“Everyone else – the cast, producers – were in the main part of the theatre, but Taika and I sat at the back, just in case we needed to leave because we couldn’t handle it,” he laughs.
“I thought it was a disaster. It takes an audience to watch it with you to remind you that it’s funny.”
With invites to international film festivals piling up, including one in Transylvania, it seems a high-speed lifestyle is set to continue for Jemaine.
Good thing, he says, he’s got five-year-old son Sophocles to keep him grounded.
“My son still doesn’t believe I was the voice of Nigel [in Rio],” he reveals. “He let me down gently though. He said, ‘No, Dad. Your voice sounds similar, but you’re not Nigel.’ He was very polite about it.”
By Laura Weaser
FB Photo Album of Q&A session at Roxy Cinema
Shadow Dancing in Vellington:
Jemaine & Taika handing out raffle prizes