The CW: "Wellington Paranormal" Delivers an "X-Files" Vibe with a Touch of "Cops"

By Behind the Scenes in Hollywood Archives
Cover image for  article: The CW: "Wellington Paranormal" Delivers an "X-Files" Vibe with a Touch of "Cops"

The cast of Wellington Paranormal has for over four seasons been entertaining viewers in their native New Zealand. As of July 11, American audiences will have the opportunity to see what the buzz has been about down under, when The CW begins airing the first two seasons of this long-running hit back-to-back. From the creative team behind the What We Do In the Shadows franchise, Wellington Paranormal follows the adventures of police officers O'Leary (Karen O'Leary, pictured top right) and Minogue (Mike Minogue, top left) who, in the line of duty, seem to constantly find themselves facing all manner of ghouls and supernatural beings. Think The X-Files meets Cops with lots more of that underlying Scully and Mulder sexual tension. "There's a general vibe we give out, to be honest," joked Minogue during a Zoom call to promote the series. "I mean, I'm a lot like David Duchovny. I get a lot of leading men roles. And Karen gets a lot of Gillian Anderson stuff. Gillian Anderson recently played Margaret Thatcher in The Crown, so I think Karen's been lined up to play Jacinda Ardern in a movie that's coming up.”

"No, I've said no to that movie," retorted O'Leary, dryly. "It's not good.”

Fans of the 2014 movie What We Do In The Shadows, will recognize the duo from their memorable appearance, and from the moment star/writer/creator/director, Jemaine Clement paired O'Leary and Minogue, he knew he'd found something special. "Years ago, filming the movie, people would say to us [this] could be a sitcom," he recalled. "When these guys got in on their first day, the first take was a bit rough, but their second take … (series co-creator) Taika Waititi and I were saying, 'This should be a show! These guys are so great together!'

"[They] didn't know each other, [but they] were instantly like a comedy duo," he continued. "That's rare to find -- even with existing comedy duos -- to have chemistry and a real rhythm together. They immediately did because they're both good listeners. They bounce off each other really well and we just knew, as soon as they were on camera, we just wanted to follow [them] around a little bit more.”

Clement gives credit where due to The X-Files in the creation of Wellington Paranormal, admitting, "This [show] definitely wouldn't exist without the The X-Files," but he does draw the line at Cops, citing the reality police shows airing in New Zealand. "I'm not sure," he pondered. "It's not quite like Cops, because we don't have the American version," he said. "But the New Zealand version is quite different [from the U.S. one] because our police department is mostly just chatting to people. So, the New Zealand [police] shows are closer to this show.”

"Cops is the one police show I've ever watched," added O'Leary. "I guess it all goes back to why people like the paranormal stuff. People like what they can't fully understand or explain. Not knowing why something exists or how it exists, I think people find it intriguing. That's probably why people are into religion, maybe?

"There's a fear-based thing around it as well," concurred Minogue. "I remember as a kid loving Dr. Who, even though it was mostly scary. I think that's the thing about Wellington Paranormal; we've got so many kids that are fans of the show because it's scary and funny at the same time.”

When it comes to real-life paranormal encounters and a belief in the unknown, the cast and creators are divided. However, during production, they did encounter a few unexplainable occurrences. "I've never seen a ghost," admitted Clement. "I know a couple of people who say they've seen ghosts. Even one of my friends who insists there's no such thing will tell you, 'I saw, a woman from the 1970s in my hallway.'"

"I've never seen a ghost," said O'Leary. "But filming the ghost episode, we had the house we used blessed. The woman that came knew nothing about the house and was like, ‘You know, there's actually a woman spirit here, and she's really happy with what you're doing.' It turned out, we found out later, that [a] woman had died in that house [who] was an avid theater person.”

"There was a story about that house," chimed in Clement. "The owners didn't live there, but they had an electrician call them up saying, 'I'm at the house, I can see the lady there, but she won't let me in. I keep knocking and she won't let me in.' They told him, 'There's no lady there, no one lives there.' So, apparently, the house was haunted!”

"Well, she was a big fan of Wellington Paranormal," laughed Minogue. "Even though the series hadn't come out yet, it was great to get that kind of support."

"Yeah," added Clement in closing. "That's true! And from an actual ghost! I feel like we're on board with the ghost community.”

Wellington Paranormal is telecast Sundays at 9 p.m. on The CW.

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