On Monday, I attended the iZombie event at SXSW Film Festival. The cast and producers of the show did a Red Carpet; then the pilot episode was shown to a much appreciative audience, followed by a question and answer session. iZombie is about a doctor, Liv, played by Rose McIver, who has the perfect life. She is successful in her work life, and she is engaged to a great guy in Major (Robert Buckley). That all changes when she goes to a party and gets attacked by a zombie. Now she is living a life as a zombie living in the real world. She works at the morgue, working with Ravi (Rahul Kohli). Liv discovers that when she eats dead people’s brains, she gets flashes of the last days of their lives. Using this ability, along with Det, Babineaux (Malcolm Goodwin), she solves crimes and brings a little meaning to her zombie existence.
I interviewed the cast and producers of the show on the Red Carpet at the Austin Convention Center during SXSW.
Rose McIver: HI
I image that when they approached you to do this project, all they had to say was that Rob Thomas was creating the show.
Rose: That’s exactly right. You know when you are in the middle of pilot season, you get a lot of scripts that are sort of diluted versions of shows from the year before. I was given a Rob Thomas script that was so original and you know he knows how to do a show right. I was just excited from the get go.
So your character has to eat brains to stay human-like. What are you actually eating?
Rose: We have tons of these gelatin brains that are formed in molds and look way too convincing. It’s great that I am not eating real brains but, my goodness, they defiantly not delicious.
Hi, Diane, you co-wrote the pilot with Rob, and you are Executive Producer of the show. Why did you want to be involved with this project?
Diane Ruggiero-Wright: I am a huge fan of the zombie genre, and I love the spin that the comic put on the genre, giving us such a rich character. And I jumped at the chance to work with Rob again.
Talk about the cast you have on the show:
Diane: The cast is amazing. You have someone like Rahul Kohl, who is brilliant, and I like to say that I discovered at a London Chuck E Cheese. But opportunely there aren’t any Chuck E Cheese’s in London, so you will know that I am lying. We have some really cool people like Malcolm Goodwin, is a multi-talented actor, producer, writer. You have Robert Buckley and David Anders; it’s just an embarrassment of riches that we get to write for every week.
Hi, Rob, talk about using the elements of the comic book.
Rob Thomas: I loved the art from the comic book. The head of Warner Brothers development put the comic on my desk and said “this is the next great CW heroine.” First of all, we wanted Liv, the lead, to look like the cover of the comic book. So her hair, her pallor, that was sort of the guide to the look. Then to page homage to the comic book, we had the comic book artists do the main titles of the show, and we have comic book panels that begin each act of our show. Kind of as a “shout out” to the source material.
Talk about your Liv, Rose McIver:
Rob: Interestedly, when I cast “Veronica Mars,” I probably saw a hundred actresses but Kristen Bell was the first actress I auditioned. So the whole time I knew I had my Veronica. To see all these actresses, knowing that I have “the girl.” Casting iZombie, I probably saw a 100 actresses, and Rose was the last person who walked in the door. I was in full panic mode at the time, thinking “I don’t think we have the girl.” And then she walked in being so vivacious, she just sort of popped. She was exactly what we were looking for, a girl that America will want to tune in for. She has that quality about her. In the pilot, Liv is so down in the first half of the show, and Rose is so up, that we had to keep telling her to dial it back down. But when you get to the last act, and you see that shift where Liv figures out what she can do with being a zombie, you get to see what a vivacious, spunky actress she is.
Hi, David. We see you in the pilot but only for a little bit. What can you give us without giving too much away about your character?
David Anders: Yeah, in the pilot you see he briefly alive, then briefly dead. He’s the main heavy in the show. He becomes a zombie named Blaine DeBeers. He grew up well off, getting what ever he wanted. He starts selling drugs, including one called up Utopia. Once he becomes a zombie, he parleys the drug selling into another vocation.
Did you guys have fun shooting this show?
David: Yeah, it’s been great. I’m calling it a “Zom Com Rom” show, so who wouldn’t want to be a part of that.
Hi Rahul, your character figures out very early on in the pilot that he is working with a zombie. So you become part of this crime fighting Scooby Doo gang.
Rahul Kohli: It’s funny because, with the original comic, iZombie, that’s one of the comparisons that people always make. I glad you said that. We aren’t a direct adaptation, but we do have that Scooby Doo sort of DNA in the show.
How would you describe the show?
Rahul: I always say it’s the F word. I get asked what do you want people to get from the show, and I say, it’s just fun. I know it’s a short one-word answer, but it’s true. It’s just a fun show.
I hope you have a long run.
Rahul: So do I because I want to buy a Mustang.
Hi Malcolm, you’re a detective that becomes part of this Scooby Doo like crime solving gang. Do you think that he will ever figure out that Liv is a Zombie?
Malcolm Goodwin: You know, Clive is kind of a one track mind type of guy, so I don’t know he can even handle the thought of psychic and zombies co-existing in the world. For now he is committed to the psychic side of it. Will he ever figure it out? I don’t know. You know, if he were to figure out that she is a zombie, his head might explode or something. I just don’t think he could handle it.
He’s the type of guy that is based in reality, and that’s about all he can handle, right?
Malcolm: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, he can only deal with the things in front of him that he knows are real and that’ it. But zombies, he wouldn’t believe in that.
Talk about being on a Rob Thomas show:
Malcolm: It’s an honor. A dream come true. He is such a great writer that gives us such great things to say. It makes my job that much easier. And he is a really great director.
Hi Robert, so tell me about your character’s name:
Robert Buckley: Yeah, the name. So when I agreed to do the show and I was talking to Rob Thomas, I was like “how flexible are you on the name, Major Lilywhite?” and they said, were not. It was later that they told me the story that Major is the name of a boy that Diane Ruggiero-Wright had a crush on in high school and Lily-white was the name of Rob Thomas’s favorite collegiate football players. So my characters name is a combo of both. Major Lilywhite. Everyone is like, ?why do you think Liv broke up with Major?” and I’m like, would you want to be Mrs. Lilywhite? No, hyphenate that thing or get it out of here.
iZombie premieres tonight on Atlanta’s CW at 9 pm. Be sure to tune in every Tuesday for the adventures of Rose McIver as Liv in iZombie.