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‘What We Do in the Shadows’ Star Harvey Guillén on His Latinx Superhero Transformation in Season 2 Finale

TheWrap Emmy magazine: ”It’s a great moment for people to see that sometimes someone you don’t expect can change people’s lives and be a hero,“ star of the FX show says

This story about Harvey Guillén first appeared in the Drama/Comedy/Actors issue of TheWrap’s Emmy magazine. 

Harvey Guillén’s character in the first season of “What We Do In the Shadows” had him aspiring to be the next Antonio Banderas in “Interview With a Vampire.” But in a surprisingly bloody, action-heavy finale to the FX comedy’s second season, Guillén’s Guillermo De La Cruz morphs into an action hero and assassinates a room full of vampires, boldly stating his name and announcing that he’s his own force to be reckoned with.

Guillén has gone through a similar transformation, segueing from a supporting player to quite literally the human heart and soul on a show about clueless, out-of-touch vampires. And by taking a step forward as a vampire hunter–and a descendant of Abraham Van Helsing, no less — suddenly he’s not just a diverse member of the cast but a plus-size, Latinx superhero you would’ve never expected to be represented in a show based on a Taika Waititi satire.

“I think it’s about time to get a character on television who is the character we didn’t know we needed to be the superhero, and I think it’s inspirational,” Guillén said. “The way the writers have made that storyline just slowly slip on you and then, whoa! I didn’t know that was going to happen, but I’m glad it happened and I want more. Yes! More of this!”

Audiences, too, have taken notice of Guillén’s sudden arrival as a surprise superhero. After he tweeted a video of a rehearsal of his fight sequence from the season 2 finale, Lin-Manuel Miranda called Guillen’s stunt work “f—ing masterful.”

Guillén said he worked out four times a week with a personal trainer, building muscle and shedding fat, and he was surprised by how quickly the show embraced Guillermo’s new direction. And because his character has taken a big step forward, he’s been able to explore the emotions, regret, sadness and complexity that his undead co-stars don’t necessarily share.

“In many ways, Guillermo’s journey is on the same path (of) ideas and goals that me, Harvey, has put for himself,” he said. “The character started off in my head where I thought (he) was and who I think he is, but that was just the acorn to start with. And now he’s blossomed into this badass.”

Guillén said that even a few years ago, the idea of a non-svelte Latino character appearing on screen, let alone as a heroic lead, would’ve been a fantasy. But now he’s even got his hopes set on what it would mean should he become the second Latinx Emmy nominee in the Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series category (after 2014 nominee Fred Armisen, who has a Venezuelan mother).

“It’s a great moment for people to see that sometimes someone you don’t expect can change people’s lives and be a hero,” Guillén said. “I think it would mean the world and it would be history-making.”

Read more from the Drama/Comedy/Actors issue of TheWrap Emmy magazine.

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