Every day, iZombie star Rose McIver eats brains. And for that she is profoundly grateful.
iZombie premiered on The CW last March, and its blend of crime-solving, quirky humor, sharp banter, and, of course, zombies was irresistible to critics and fans. And it put a spotlight on New Zealand actress McIver, whose Liv Moore had many of the same characteristics of another Rob Thomas-created heroine, the much-loved Veronica Mars. Except Liv is one of the undead.
Thomas clearly has a gift for casting. Just as Veronica Mars helped make Kristen Bell a star, iZombie has become a showcase for McIver’s talents. Liv takes on the personalities of the brains she eats, so McIver has had to speak Romanian, sing country music, perform magic tricks, don a superhero mask, and more every week. It’s not an easy job, but she feels lucky to be doing it.
“I’m still pinching myself a little bit,” she says. “I get to work with people I really love every day and make a show that I really love. I’m just so grateful.”
Yes, it’s been a big year for McIver, filled with many new experiences — including being an honoree in Yahoo TV’s end-of-year series, Toast of 2015. Here are some of her memorable firsts:
Watching iZombie for the first time:
McIver: It was so lovely, because we all watched together. [It] was at Rob Thomas’s house in Austin the night before we premiered at the Austin South by Southwest festival. Rob has this screening room, and we all sat there together and watched the thing we made. It was nice for the cast and our creators and showrunners to be able to celebrate that together. It’s a bit of a vortex when you’re in it, so to see the whole thing come to life was something we were very proud of.
The first episode that made her think iZombie was special:
It was all such a blur, to be honest, especially the first season. I’m trying to learn all these new skills each week to play Liv. For me, it was actually really as we were coming to the close of Season 1. I still hadn’t seen anything, and I didn’t really know how it was all going to pan out. Then, in episode 12 of Season 1, I play a cheerleader and a stoner, and I think it was the sheer exhaustion that we were all dealing with it, but we had so much fun. I realized just how much of a playground this was for me. It made me excited to hope that there was another season. There was just such an expanse of characters to play. That was really special.
Her first crazy fan encounter:
I think it was going back to Comic-Con this year. Before we had actually begun shooting iZombie, we went to Comic-Con [in 2014]. That was exciting, but when we went back this year, people had seen the show. We saw all these Liv Moores in cosplay. It was so exciting. It’s so flattering that people enjoy our show and want to put their time and energy into creating these costumes. And some of them were pretty convincing. I was like, “OK, I’m replaceable. I know that now!”
Eating brains for the first time:
We’ve refined the recipe over shooting. [At first] we used fondant, and it was just this really syrupy sweet, but rock-hard icing that was covered in vegetable juice to make it look like blood and brains and stuff. That was pretty disgusting. We’ve now got it to a place where the magic is trying to hide the taste of the jelly each week, and we do it in these fun ways — like Liv cooks tacos. [Recently] we did clams casino.
On the first time she saw herself in zombie makeup:
We had two weekends before making the pilot when I did makeup and costume tests and hair tests. We tried a lot of different looks… Because the show is based on this graphic novel series, and I’m a fan of the series and there are a lot of dedicated fans out there, it’s nice that the look we ended up creating really honors the look in the comic series. Once we managed to get that, I felt really comfortable going forward.
When she realized the iZombie team was a family:
It was pretty funny — recently we filmed a scene where Liv and Major decide to give it another go and they make out at the end of the episode. It was very exciting to read the script. There was so much tension and it was just fantastic. Robert Buckley and I know each other so well now, and we just found it hilarious. But there’s this tender, beautiful make-out that everybody’s been waiting for — and all my white makeup started coming off on his face! He’s quite tan-looking anyway, so I was just leaving white streaks on him! I was just laughing and thinking it was so nice to be working with people you’re so comfortable with and can giggle with it. It’s a very relaxed and friendly environment.