I received a phone call from Rose McIver not five minutes after watching the season six premiere of The Walking Dead. I have to say, after an hour and a half of Walking Dead‘s dreary, hopeless brand of zombie storytelling, Ms. McIver – her New Zealand accent thick, her attitude unwaveringly chipper – was something of a breath of fresh air.
The same could be said, really, for iZombie, from Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas and adapted from the Vertigo comic book. In the middle of a zombie boom period with no shortage of blood, guts, and gore, the CW’s resident zombie series premiered earlier this year, offering viewers a far more lighthearted take on the undead aesthetic. Ms. McIver stars as Liv Moore, who leaves her job as a medical intern to work in a morgue after contracting the zombie virus. You know, to be close to the brains. Which she eats. Luckily, Liv also gains the memories and character traits of the brains’ owners, information she uses to help solve crimes.
I know, I know, what a premise. But the show gained confidence in its odd-ball story straight out of the gate. It also gained an audience. iZombie‘s second season begins tonight, so I chatted with Ms. McIver about what to expect, Liv teaming up David Anders’ Blaine and, most importantly, if anyone has managed to make those brains taste any better.
I just finished Walking Dead, so I apologize if I mess up my zombie lore at all.
Ahh, we are big fans of The Walking Dead. That’s kind of a different zombie show, I’d say. They’ve got the apocalyptic thing down.
If Walking Dead does the apocalypse, where does iZombie fit now in the grand scheme of zombie fandom?
We’re the self-aware zombie show! iZombie actually recognizes zombies as a part of pop culture. Liv does her research by watching the old, black-and-white zombie films. I think the reflective things in our show really sets it apart, and we are able to handle it with some wry humor.
So where do we find Liv at the beginning of Season 2?
We catch up with her in many ways. Very isolated, and feeling frustrated that, through no fault of her own, many of the people closest to her in her life have pushed her away. She’s on the rocks in her relationship with Major, Peyton has run away because she simply can’t cope with Liv being a zombie. Clive and Ravi are really the only ones that can stick by her, and Clive doesn’t even know she’s a zombie.
Rob Thomas said there’s a good chance that Liv and Blaine work together in season 2. Anything you can tell me about that?
Last season, David Anders and I were so frustrated that we didn’t get to work together more, because naturally our storylines kept as at arms length. But we have such great on-screen chemistry. It will be this dynamic resistance between these two characters, but a shared understanding because they have both gone through something that pretty much no one else has. It’s a lot of fun to be had, there’s a lot of humor in exploring that new rapport they have in working together. At the same time he has killed people very dear to Liv, which is something not easily overlooked. It’s a dynamic shitft, and it’s interesting.
What kind of brains are we looking at in season 2? I think Rob Thomas mentioned an “old man brain?”
Yeah, we actually kick off with a grumpy old man brain, which was actually one of my least favorite characters to play. He’s kind of a bigoted character. It works very well for the story but it’s hard to play a character for me that I can’t really find anything I like about them. I love Liv, and I love many of the aspects of the brains she’s eaten, but this character is a bigoted, pretty racist Archy Bunker type of old guy. It’s not a very appealing character to dip in to.
That’s what we start with, then I think I’m allowed to tell you the next couple – a frat boy, a ‘real housewife,’ and a country music singer. Those are kind of one through four, and it’s a really good range. That’s something we played with a little more this season – how much the brains influence Liv’s personality.
I assume you get to sing a bit for the country music singer.
I’ve always sung, so it’s nice to get an opportunity to show that a little bit on the show with this character. That’s kind of what I love so much about this show, how these hobbies I’ve picked up over the years are finding new life on screen with this character. I’ve been pushing [the writers] toward things I’ve done like…I used to figure skate, or I did a bit of ballet. I really enjoy singing, I think it’s the most exposing thing we can do.
So with an entire season in the books and headed into season two, have they found any way to make the brains taste better for you?
Well, they’re not good [laughs]. It’s mostly gelatin, so it’s really what they mix it with to disguise it. I just ate, last week, it was actually tiny little bits of gelatin in with mushrooms, and breaded tofu and all sorts of things. It was really delicious! That was the best version. It was the first time I’ve ever eaten a brain on set and been like ‘Hey, this isn’t bad.’ The week before we did a stew that was just appalling. It was like brain mixed in with packet stew sauce, this thick kind of brown gravy. That was pretty awful.