As “iZombie’s” Olivia “Liv” Moore, Rose McIver has a bad case of the munchies, but it’s not something a bag of chips can satisfy. Once a college student with a promising future, Liv joined the ranks of the living dead in the wake of a zombie attack. Since then, the young coroner employee must indulge her cravings for human brains once a month in order to maintain a normal appearance as well as her humanity. However, every time she chows down, Liv inherits the deceased’s memories and feels obligated to solve their murders. To further complicate matters, evil zombie Blaine (David Anders) is causing trouble, and to make things even worse, may in fact be responsible for Liv’s transformation.
Based on the Vertigo series of the same name created by Chris Roberson and Mike Allred, and executive produced by Veronica Mars’ Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero, “iZombie” is described by the network as a supernatural procedural with some heart… and bite. As part of the show’s big coming out ceremony at Comic-Con International, McIver spent some time with the press to answer a few questions about her undead starring role. In addition to explaining how she landed the part, McIver discussed what ability comes with her character’s diet, facing off against her nemesis and what happens when Liv gets a little peckish.
How did you get involved in “iZombie?”
Rose McIver: It was pilot season and I was looking at various pilots. My manager sent me this thing, “iZombie.” I assumed from the title it would be along the lines of “Walking Dead,” which I think is a great show. It was a big surprise when I got home, read it, and it’s this bizarre zombie/comedy procedural. It jams in as many genres as we can, and they have a lot of fun with it. They subvert the idea of zombie genre quite a lot. I went in and tested. I Skyped with Rob [Thomas], who was at his Mom’s 70th birthday, in Austin. We just hit it off, and it all fell into place.
Your character goes through a pretty traumatic ordeal in the first episode. She loses everything she’s got and has to reinvent herself. That could make a very bitter character to play, but obviously Rob knows how to bring out the comedy, even in the darker situations.
Absolutely. I’ve always been drawn to comedy with a strong sense of tragedy and vice versa. That’s smart writing, and Rob and Diane [Ruggiero] do a great job of it.
What was appealing about Liv is, she is cynical and jaded, and she’s lost her sense of identity, but within the first episode, although she can maintain some of that sarcasm and dark sense of humor, she starts to see a sense of purpose as well. Thanks to Robbie, her colleague and boss, she’s able to find a bit more of a purpose in her life. With that growing sense of identity comes a little bit more of a sense of optimism.
Liv is a zombie and still has to function in the real world. How do you stay human?
We’re playing that she’s able to pass off as a human. Her family and friends still believe that she’s a human, but she’s unhealthy looking. The other day, I actually saw somebody walking around the streets who had a similar complexion. I did a double take. Although I may have just thought she was unhealthy before, now I am getting suspicious.
Liv loses all her pigment. I have white hair. I have very, very white skin. I have dark circles under my eyes. The more hungry I am, the longer it’s been since I’ve eaten a brain, I get red contact lenses and veins. We work with an amazing makeup and hair department that have created a really strong look for when I go rabid zombie mode.
Can you talk about the differences between Liv and her evil zombie counterpart, Blaine [David Anders].
I only recently watched “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and I feel like my character is a cross between Buffy and Angel. She’s this ethical zombie. She’s the heroine, solving these crimes and fighting against injustice in her community. She’s also a zombie who is trying to eat brains in the most socially responsible way. She eats brains of the people who have died in order to preserve something.
It serves us to have a bad zombie whose intentions aren’t so ethical or socially responsible. We have cast the divine David Anders as Blaine. He is the peak of the bad zombie world. We get to see her and his interaction. That’s a big part of the storyline for the first season.
How grueling was it getting the proper zombie mannerisms down? Did you have a particular walk or sound you had to practice?
Yes, it was incredibly challenging in thinking about it in the weeks leading up to shooting. Luckily, the first time I actually had to play a zombie was in the middle of the night. We were shooting in the cold, in Canada, and in the woods. I had been clinging to the roof of the car. My brain was mush, I wasn’t thinking at all. It was a relief. Stuff just happened. I had no inhibitions. I played around and managed to find something that worked.
“iZombie” debuts March 17 at 9/8C on The CW.
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