Flight of the Conchords star Jemaine Clement is still trying to explain the Kiwi sense of humour to Americans. He's been home making the second season of his primetime cop show Wellington Paranormal.
1 Season two of Wellington Paranormal starts this week. What happens this time round?
Officers Mike Minogue and Karen O'Leary are still the centre of the show. Within the first few minutes of seeing them in What We Do in the Shadows, we knew they should have their own show. This season we've cast the net wider with different creatures and weird Wellington happenings. The writing process is similar to Shadows with lots of improvisation so it's fun and easy to shoot compared to the bigger budget American version which has much longer hours; 17-hour days compared to 10 here.
2 You're about to shoot the second season of the US version of What We Do in the Shadows. Is it hard to translate Kiwi humour to Americans?
Sometimes it's very hard to explain why I find something funny to a room full of Americans. Last season we had one English and one Kiwi writer, so I knew at least two people would understand me. This season I'm explaining a lot more. I just say, "Trust me, it'll be fine." My bosses seem positive about the ratings. They send me the numbers, but I don't know what they mean because I've never looked at ratings before. We're heading to Toronto shortly to shoot season two. I'm not sure if Taika will direct any episodes this year because he's making a movie in Hawaii.
3 Avatar director James Cameron posted on social media that he's 'really pumped' to have you join his cast for the 2nd and 3rd films. Apparently he's a big fan of your work?
Well, who knows? I got to meet him in LA when I was doing post-production on Shadows. He's great. We're filming the next two Avatar movies in Wellington right now. It's so much fun. We get to ask him questions about his movies, like Titanic and Terminator. I asked if it was true that Arnold Schwarzenegger wanted to change his line to, "I will come back". He said it was. Schwarzenegger suggested all these alternatives and Cameron said, "Just keep it simple. Just, 'I'll be back'."
4 You're playing Dr Ian Garvin, a nerdy marine biologist on Pandora. Is it a major role?
It's hard to say. The cast is huge. These big budget movies take so long to film, you might work for a week on a three-minute scene so it's hard to get a sense of how much will end up on screen. It depends on what's important to the story. I won't find out until I see it.
5 Growing up in the Wairarapa, what were your parents' expectations of you?
We were very working class. The jobs around then were freezing works, sheep shearing. My parents both worked in factories and we lived in an old workman's cottage on a farm in Greytown. It was cool growing up around animals. When my parents split up, we moved to Masterton. Mum was a rousey and she used to try to get me to go shearing with her, but I wouldn't. I knew it wasn't for me.
6 What sub-culture did you belong to at school?
One of the teachers at Makoura College was studying sub-cultures and she published an essay identifying ours in the school magazine. She said I was in the 'loud arty' sub-culture but I could 'float between'. I was probably the quiet one in that group. I discovered at Victoria University that drama classes weren't as easy as they looked. Taika was the talented one. We both remember the moment we first saw each other because we were both instantly annoyed by each other. I was wearing a puffer shirt and he was wearing a Jamaican Rastafarian hat and we both thought, "That guy shouldn't be wearing that!"
7 Have you enjoyed working Taika Waititi and Brett McKenzie again this year?
Doing the TV show with Taika and the tour with Brett has been a very familiar, retro 90s feeling. It reminds me of when Humour Beasts was my duo with Taika and Conchords was my duo with Brett. We'd sometimes do shows on the same night, so I'd finish a show with Taika and then me and Brett would quickly tune up our guitars and go on stage.
8 Your mum's Maori (Ngati Kahungunu). Do you speak any te reo?
He iti noa iho. Only a little. I used to be able to speak it when I was at university. I lived with my aunty and uncle and we had a rule that we only spoke Maori on weekends. It made te reo classes easier but as soon as I moved out, I got rusty.
9 How has fatherhood changed you?
Having a child changes your priorities and your whole outlook on the world. You go for years thinking you're the most important person in your life, then you realise that's not true. Our son Sophocles is 10 now. My wife's Greek; he's named after her grandfather - we call him Sopho. My wife and son speak Greek at home.
10 What music are you listening to lately?
The Phoenix Foundation did the soundtrack for Wellington Paranormal, so Sam Scott and I have been sending tracks to each other to listen to. We both like African music, Francis Dubé. If I hear something I like, I use the Shazam app to find out what it is. On my track list at the moment, there's Matt Elliott, very dramatic moody music, and an album called The Sound of Siam which is 70s psychedelic jazz rock from Thailand. Sometimes when I write Shadows, I'll put on Balkan music or goofy classical to inspire me.
11 How do you use social media?
I'm on twitter. It's not a very nice place. I started out using it to follow news and bands I like but I got into a phase of wading into arguments a few years ago. Being in America a lot, it's hard to look away from the political mess there. But I don't do that so much anymore. You can't have a nuanced conversation within the limited number of characters. It's easy to misunderstand. I wouldn't advise people to go on twitter. I don't know why I'm still on it.
12 You starred in the nudist Belgian film 'de Patrick'. How did you find that?
Very unusual. It's not something I'm used to. They found me ridiculous. I said, "I don't think I've ever been in the nude in front of a lot of people before" and they said, "You must have - in the sauna!" I explained that New Zealanders wear shorts or a towel in the sauna and they found that very prudish. But it was filmed in a beautiful forest which was quite a moody place to be naked.
• Wellington Paranormal Season 2 starts tomorrow, Wednesday 16 October at 8.30pm, TVNZ2 and On Demand