At the age of 3, Auckland-born Rose McIver landed her first acting role in The Piano. Supporting roles in film and television followed (Masters of Sex, Once Upon A Time, The Lovely Bones). This year saw her break out with a leading role in successful American television series iZombie, playing medical student Olivia “Liv” Moore who is turned into a zombie and who must eat brains to survive. A new job at the morgue helps feed her appetite, as well as offering flashbacks with clues which helps solve the deaths of victims. She talks to Viva about making it in America and what’s next for the new year.
Where are you at in the schedule with filming iZombie at the moment?
We are currently wrapping production on episode 13 of season two. It has been a mad-busy but exciting year of shooting and I’m so thrilled with how it’s all turning out. This episode I ate the brain of a pathological liar and the outcome lends itself to comedy and some serious drama in equal parts.
When you were younger and starting out in acting, if someone told you you’d one day be eating brains and solving crimes on American TV, what would you have thought?
I’d have been very sceptical. Getting any job in this industry can be hard enough but getting one where I get to play multiple characters and work with such brilliant writing and a cast and crew that I love, exceeds anything I could imagine.
Can you paint a picture of your life in LA? Where do you live and what’s your neighbourhood like? What do you get up to outside of work?
In LA, I live in Silverlake. It’s a great neighbourhood that feels like a bit of a Grey Lynn really, but with a more Hispanic influence through the city in general, and without our lovely rain. I jog a lot when I can, I’m running my first marathon next year raising money for a great organisation called Calico, that provides forensic investigation and support to children suffering abuse. While we are shooting iZombie, though, I spend almost all my time in Vancouver on set. Vancouver is a beautiful city on the water and my cast and crew have become very dear friends spending so much time together.
What’s the best thing about your work? And the worst?
The best thing is the variety. I could never be bored. I meet so many great people and film in fantastic locations all over the place. The worst thing is feeling pulled in so many directions. It’s a luxury problem but now wherever I go I miss loved ones in other countries!
What do you miss about NZ? Any plans to return for summer?
I’m coming home and staying in Piha. I can’t wait. The quality of the air. The water. The laid-back attitudes of the people. My family, most of all, and my friends.
How are American TV sets different to NZ? And what sort of cultural adjustments have you had to make since moving to LA?
I have been fortunate enough to work with really lovely crews in the US. In New Zealand I had known a lot of the crew all through my childhood, so I certainly miss the familiar faces and they don’t say “ecktion” in America. In Canada where we shoot iZombie I have found a delightful group of people and the laid-back sensibility and sense of team work I knew in New Zealand feels much more present.
Why do you think the show and your performance have struck such a chord?
I feel people enjoy how self-aware our show is, that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. We are a show about a zombie detective after all. It’s fun and entertaining and a nice escape after a long day.
What’s next for you, post iZombie?
Goodness, I can’t see past next week at the moment. I wrap shooting in mid-March, there are a few projects that look promising but I won’t know until the new year what will materialise first. Would love to do something at home in New Zealand, though, so fingers crossed that works out.