CBR TV: EP Rob Thomas & Star David Anders Embrace the Undead in "iZombie"

When "iZombie" premieres on The CW this March, the show won't be aiming for the same thrills as AMC's zombie hit, "The Walking Dead," but that's not to say there won't be plenty of thrills. But, as Executive Producer Rob Thomas explained to CBR's Kiel Phegley when he and star David Anders boarded the world famous CBR Yacht during Comic-Con International in San Diego, there's plenty of heart and plenty of comedy in the upcoming series, making it a very different take on the traditional zombie. The pair discuss the show's roots in the Vertigo Comics series by Chris Roberson and Mike Allred but explain how they took inspiration from the comic and created their own world on TV. Anders also talks about what he's bringing to the role of Blaine and he and Thomas share what supernatural elements will and won't appear as the series progresses.

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On how the show was influenced by Roberson & Allred's comic but ultimately forges its own path:

Rob Thomas: The studio executive at Warner Bros. was such a huge fan of it. She said "This has to happen." And the way she pitched it was, "We need a great female lead on the network. We need the new 'Buffy,' the new 'Veronica Mars.' And I saw an opportunity with "iZombie" to do that. We take, I think, the biggest idea of the comic book, which is that this young woman zombie is functioning as a zombie. She eats brains and inherits the memories of the people whose brains she eats, and then goes on sort of an adventure trying to fix the problems of the people whose brains she eats. That big idea is still in the show, but in order to make it a weekly TV series, we needed sort of a bigger story engine, so we put her in a police morgue so their would be a case of the week.

On Anders frequent association with supernatural shows and how he sees "iZombie" as different from the others:

David Anders: Yeah, I seemingly specialize in genre shows and shows that are Comic-Con friendly. The way I think "iZombie" differentiates itself is, we have this procedural [element] on it, and it's funny. Rob Thomas, he does funny well. I've always wanted to do comedy, and we're calling this a "Crimedy" as you've already heard from the others. So I jumped at the opportunity to do this because of the humorous elements of it.

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On how the mid-twenties life crisis themes found in "iZombie" were influenced by similar themes Thomas worked on in the "Veronica Mars" film:

Thomas: The main thing is I think we are much more conscious of it in "iZombie." In "Veronica Mars" it was just sort of a number, Veronica was that age because I wanted to use a high school reunion to bring all of our characters back together. In "iZombie" there is more theme inherent in it. We're trying to create a character who's having the worst quarter-life crisis ever. She's the apotheosis of generation Y, getting out of school and working toward this goal, and getting to this point in life, and having it all shattered, and not knowing where to go next. So we are playing up that idea in a big way.

On Anders' portrayal of Blaine and the complications he faces as a wealthy young man involved in a drug ring:

Anders: Yeah, when you first meet Blaine he is an entitled rich kid. In the character breakdown, collar-popping rich kid. They likened him to a James Spader in "Pretty in Pink"-type character. I hope I bring a little of that because who doesn't love James Spader. After the stuff goes down he becomes a "pale face." That's what I'm calling him. He get's into another game. He starts dealing this drug called "Utopia," but he transitions into something else.

Thomas: The Blaine role that David plays is, I think, is gonna be the most fun for an actor, because we don't want small in that role. We want him to go for the jugular. It's a big character. It's Christopher Walken. Just let it rip.

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On the comic's monster mythology and whether or not the show has plans to follow a similar path:

Thomas: The comic book actually goes in a more supernatural route. They have ghosts and werewolves and because there are other shows that are doing that already -- "True Blood" is doing that; I think "Being Human" is doing that -- we're sort of steering away from the more supernatural element. Our zombies are more sort of virus created zombies. We will have a lot of zombie action, but I think we will be limited to that end of the zombie spectrum. And there are people who I think argue that virus zombies by definition are supernatural, that they are up from the ground. We're playing more the "28 Weeks Later," "28 Days Later," "World War Z" zombies.

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