Spending recent years toying with morbid humour, New Zealand iZombie lead Rose McIver tells Daniel Cribb why it’s important to laugh when bad things happen.
“I’m currently lying on my parents’ sofa in Auckland,” McIver begins from her hometown. “I’m home visiting for a week and have regressed to behaving like a difficult teenager and demanding coffee from dad and lounging around,” she laughs.
It’s the first time she’s been home for a full week in several years, with an increasingly busy schedule that’s seen stints on show like Once Upon A Time and Masters Of Sex, as well as playing Liv Moore on The CW hit iZombie, so some down time is well earned, especially considering McIver put the final touches on a screenplay a week earlier. “I’m very excited — it’s with a director who actually lives in Australia now, Peter Salmon so it’s sitting in his inbox, waiting to be read,” she reveals.
“Some of the funniest things are borne out of situations that could be quite traumatic or quite morbid and being able to see the light and the dark in those situations is a skill set.”
“It’s a fairly different tone to iZombie; it’s very dark, gritty — there’s definitely some comedic elements, but I wouldn’t call it a comedy. It’s something that I’ve written as a writer, it’s not something for me to act in. It’s been a really good exercise, I hope it gets to come to life soon.”
It could have been quite easy for iZombie to take a similar dark path, with the inevitable element of death a prerequisite for the undead supernatural creature the show utilises, but McIver doesn’t see it as a zombie show, and after only a few episodes it’s easy to see why; you can almost forget that the lead is a zombie with everything else that’s going on. “It’s about a girl who went through an identity crisis and is trying to make sense of the way her life is unfolding and the way her relationships are changing,” McIver explains. “So it’s very relationship and character driven; I think that’s what keep it somewhat grounded and allows us to have some humour, and also high stakes, but also make it accessible and personable.”
It’s a style she attributes to showrunners Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero, who have given a completely original spin to the comic book-based series. “It’s almost like [Thomas] in his own life is quite comfortable with the darker side of things, and that can be a lovely balance. Some of the funniest things are borne out of situations that could be quite traumatic or quite morbid and being able to see the light and the dark in those situations is a skill set, and it’s really accessible for an audience.
“We’re working with a morgue consultant, who we put past every single question about how we would deal with a body in certain situations and she has such a dark sense of humour herself; she’s so, so funny and I find that very appealing that, you wouldn’t want it to be borne out of disrespect or anything, but bad stuff happens — that’s life and how things go and if you can’t find a way to laugh about it, then what a miserable way to exist.”