Casting agents must have David Anders on speed dial. Ever since he appeared as the devilishly charismatic rogue Sark on “Alias,” he’s nabbed multiple bad guy roles on “Vampire Diaries,” “Once Upon A Time” and “Heroes.” Now, he’s at it again as the wicked zombie Blaine on The CW’s appropriately titled, “iZombie” based on the Vertigo Comics series.
The TV series follows Liv (Rose McIver), a college student recently transformed into a zombie. In order to retain her humanity and normal appearance, she reluctantly consumes brains. That menu item unexpectedly allows Liv to absorb the memories of the deceased, a perk she uses to help the police solve crimes. While Liv utilizes her new zombie powers as a force for good, Blaine has more devious plans in mind.
Ahead of “iZombie’s” premiere, CBR News spoke to Anders about Blaine’s intentions, embracing his zombie condition, the requisite make-up process, munching on fake brains and working with “Veronica Mars” creator Rob Thomas.
CBR News: Looking at your resume, how did you become the go-to guy for villains?
David Anders: That would have to date back to my time on “Alias.” I can either thank or blame J.J. Abrams for casting me as Sark on “Alias.” Ever since then, everyone only sees me in a villainous light. On this one, I’m twisting my moustache again. I’m playing the heavy, which I love to do. You get to really explore the space as a bad guy, but on “iZombie,” it’s more of a funny bad guy because it’s a lighter show. I’m calling it a, “zom-com-rom-dram.” There’s nothing else like it.
So, what makes a good bad guy?
What makes a good antagonist is creating a character that the audience doesn’t know whether to hit or have a drink with him. A lot of people have said my characters are charmingly awful.
Introduce us to Blaine. Who is he and how is he responsible for Liv’s current zombie status?
He’s just as much a pawn as she was, although he contributed to some of the tainted drugs he is selling in the pilot episode. It’s called the Utopian, which is a drug mixed with an energy drink. That might have something to do with the zombie thing. Upon becoming a zombie, Blaine grabs Liv, scratches her and turns her. Cut to months later where Liv is dealing with her plight and coming to terms with it, and Blaine is relishing in it.
Liv is understandably freaked out about becoming a zombie. How does Blaine handle being one of the undead?
Blaine has less of a moral compass. Liv is pretty uncertain about how to procure and get these brains she needs to eat. The zombies on “iZombie” need to eat brains to maintain their humanity, or else they become “The Walking Dead” variety. Liv realizes it, so she works in a morgue where there’s a bountiful amount of brains. Blaine goes about it in other ways.
There is a moment in the promo trailer where Blaine and Liv realize the other one exists and they aren’t the only zombies alive. What is their relationship like at the beginning and as the series moves forward?
I like that scene. It paints a picture because being a zombie is very lonely. It’s a very isolated condition we find ourselves in. This is the first time Liv sees another zombie and as far as you know, this is the first time Blaine sees another zombie. I think they start off as each other’s zombie sounding boards, but by the end of the episode, it all changes.
Liv is motivated to help solve murders. What does Blaine want?
Blaine wants to be the kingpin of Seattle. I think he wanted to be the kingpin before, but he was less of a go-getter about it. Now that he has these zombie powers, he sees an opportunity to be the zombie king.
Is he amassing a zombie army?
Maybe he is and maybe he isn’t.
What does a full zombied-out Blaine look like and how was the make-up process?
When I’m full zombied-up, I get whitened-up. Rose’s skin takes very easily to the process because she’s a beautiful, porcelain, little New Zealand princess. Whereas, I am a Norwegian, who is stained a little red from excessive golfing. Rose has a wig, whereas I dye my hair once a month to get that platinum blonde look. It takes about an hour and a half to get my make-up done. Blaine starts spray tanning by the third episode to fit in a little bit. And when we go full-out zombie, our eyes get raged out. That’s a CG thing they do with our eyes.
Zombies move, talk, walk and run in their own unique manner. In what ways did you play around with those attributes?
That’s something we were playing with in the pilot. We’re building this zombie world based on the wonderful comics. We use that as a template. We had to go in other directions to adapt it for TV. Our zombies can move just as fast, if not faster, than humans.
Zombies also have a special diet in the show. What do fake brains taste like?
I don’t know what actual brains would taste like. Our brains taste like gelatinous goo. The prop department felt like they nailed it as far as consistency and aesthetics. Visually, it looks great, but for the taste, not so much. I get to do my fair share of brain eating, but Rose does the lion’s share.
Rob Thomas successfully blended dark beats with witty dialogue on “Veronica Mars.” How has it been balancing those elements on “iZombie?”
It’s such a treat to say their words. They have a great rhythm to them. It’s amazing getting a new script every week to see what they’ve come up with. And then they’ve come up with some shocking gore that I’m surprised we get away with. There are only been a few things that they’ve asked us to pull back on.
Lastly, what can viewers expect on a weekly basis from “iZombie?”
Expect something different. Expect a new kind of zombie show. There are a lot of things we stick to in the comic books. Then, there are a lot of things Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero have masterfully created. Expect a zom-com-rom-dram, dammit. It’s a serialized show, but there’s a contained crime of the week. There’s a procedural element to it — and it has lots of zombie action.
“iZombie” premieres March 17 at 9pm on The CW.
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