Olivia Moore isn’t your average zombie. When the outgoing medical student has the misfortune to attend a party attacked by the undead and she herself is bitten, things take an unexpected turn. Instead of becoming full-on living dead, Moore—played by the charming Rose McIver—ends up in a kind of zombie twilight zone where she’s certainly not living but she’s also not not living. A job at a coroner’s office and a side gig helping the local cops solve crime follow, and what we’re left with is the dark, funny new CW series iZombie.
Here, McIver explains how she ended up playing Moore, what kind of morbid research went into taking the role and how she went from vegetarian to eating brains in just a few short months.
How does a nice girl from New Zealand end up playing a zombie?
I read this project last pilot season. There was a stack of scripts that I was reading, and I felt like I saw a lot of thing that were the same. A then I pulled out this script, which was a comedy, drama and a procedural genre show. I thought, this is nothing like I’ve ever seen before. For me, being able to work on something where I could laugh every day was very appealing.
How did those initial impressions compare to the reality of filming?
We just finished our last episode and we’re all very excited by the finale. It wraps up nicely for a first season. We’re all already spit-balling ideas and the writers are sick of hearing from us about potential ideas for season two.
Your character is a medical student turned zombie who ends up working in a morgue to stay close to her favorite food. Did you get to do any actual morgue research?
We went to a morgue and it was fascinating. We have a great morgue assistant who comes and consults, and she has a great sense of humor. I mean you have to doing that job. She tells us great stories: Apparently when new employees come to work at the morgue, they play CSI theme music nice and loud to see if they’ll notice. She has a wicked sense of humor and that definitely comes across.
What’s the most disturbing thing you had to do for the show?
Probably the first time I had to saw a skull open. That was definitely one of those things that I realized somebody actually has to do. But the way it’s written in our show is very lighthearted. We do fairly dramatic things—I eat brains, and I’m trying to solve murders—but we have a twinkle in our eye and we’re very self-aware.
Your character also has to eat a lot of brains on the show, which she’s always preparing in some interesting new way. What is that stuff?
The brains are made of a gelatin or soy protein, depending on how they are going to be served, because sometimes I eat them as like a salad or brain tacos or a brain smoothie. That one was probably a record low for me.
If she’s eating brains, what’s the strangest thing you yourself have ever eaten?
I’m quite squeamish, actually. I was a vegetarian and I only started eating meat again in the last year. It was very cruel, actually: Somebody said, ‘I know exactly what you want,’ and they gave me oysters for my first venture back into the carnivore’s world. That was too much. I went back to the being a vegetarian for another month. It was definitely a big step, but it wasn’t brains. Not yet.