IZOMBIE TCA Panel Recap: Cast and Crew Talk Their Approach to Zombies, Diverting From the Source Material, Sexy Zombies, and More

     January 12, 2015

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With the TCA winter press tour in full swing the cast and executive producers of CW’s upcoming zombie comedy, iZombie, took the stage to provide a first look at the new show. iZombie follows Liv (Rose McIver) after she wakes up from a crazy night at a party as one of the living dead.  Part procedural, part romance, iZombie brings a unique take on the zombie subgenre to the small screen.

Executive producers Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright were joined by cast members Robert Buckley, Rahul Kohli, Rose McIver, Malcolm Goodwin, and David Anders to talk about their approach to zombie makeup, diverting from the source material, sexy zombies, how the protagonist Liv is different from Veronica Mars, and more.  Check out what we learned after the jump.

Before going any further, you might want to watch the first iZombie trailer.

  • izombie-pilot-rose-mciverThe show will diverge significantly from the comic book source material.  Thomas explained, “In the iZombie comic book, there’s a whole monster universe.  There are were-terriers and ghosts.  We wanted to stay strictly zombie, so we only have zombies in the show.  And we really needed a story engine.  We wanted to do a case-of-the-week show.  In the comic book, the main character is a gravedigger and that’s how she gets her brains.  By making her an assistant medical examiner and putting her in the morgue, it gave us our case of the week that we wanted.”
  • When Liv eats a brain she inherits not only memories and dreams, but skills and talents from the person who it belonged to.  According to Thomas, “One of the big elements that we did retain from the comic book is the idea that when she eats brains, she gets the memories of the dead people.  That was one of the big selling points in the comic book.  And then, when we started getting into the writers’ room and talking about whether she’s going to inherit the talents of the people that she ate, there were lively and lengthy discussions about how far do we go with that.”
  • While there are undeniable parallels between iZombie and Veronica Mars, including the narration and case-of-the-week format, Thomas sees Liv as very different.  “I think that Veronica’s hardened.  [In Veronica Mars] I always wanted us to sort of, at our best, in those voiceovers, strive for this very Raymond Chandler-esque hardboiled, cynical world view.  And I think Liv and iZombie is more naturally a softer character.  Part of the journey for her is return to sweetness and light and finding things in life that are worth going on living for.”
  • The characters on iZombie are aware of and educated in zombie culture.  Ruggiero-Wright said, “It is so prevalent in pop culture [and] we’re having a lot of fun with the fact that that’s where she does her research.  If there were a zombie attack, what would you do?  I would watch The Walking Dead, and you could pick up a lot of useful tips.  So I think that’s one of the best parts of the show to me, is that they know zombies exist.  They can make jokes about it, they reference it, and it was an easy decision because it was the most fun.”
  • The brains are made of coconut gelatin, but that’s not as tasty as it might sound.  In fact, according to Anders “It’s disgusting.” McIver continued, “Independently, it would be okay, but to combine it with what looks like blood we have vegetable juice poured all over it, and then sometimes like a really sweet corn syrupy kind of sticky thing.  So it’s not really ideal, but we’re working on it.”
  • The possibility of a cure is there to keep a glimmer of hope alive.  Thomas explained, “We wanted to give her some glimmer of hope out there, you know.  The possibility that maybe if she keeps plugging away that there could be a future for her.  I actually think we’re going to have fun with that notion of the show way before Episode 100.”
  • izombie-rose-mciverLiv will have a zombified love interest.  According to Thomas they “introduce a zombie gentleman caller in Episode 5, so Liv’s long national nightmare [of celibacy] ends at some point.”
  • This is no-bones-about-it show about dateable zombies.  Thomas said, “I will confess that the idea at the center of the show [is] a zombie you can fall in love with or even one that you find attractive, a zombie you want to date.  That’s the polite way of saying it.  We were calling the show ZILFs at one point.”
  • The success of Warm Bodies made Thomas feel more comfortable about that concept.  “It helped me a lot that Warm Bodies had made it out into the universe. There was an example of – oh, yeah, that has a zombie who you fall in love with and it gave us the confidence to say a zombie can be the hero of our show.”
  • Despite being a “sexy zombie” McIver still undergoes a lengthy makeup process.  McIver recounted, “We have a two-hour process.  We’ve kind of refined it down to about an hour and a half now.  But it’s a wig.  It is airbrushing my skin, any skin that’s exposed.  So I’ve been fighting for, like, skivvies and long sleeves.  And we cover me in this white and translucent makeup, and then there’s a lot of smoky eye work.  And the team that have created it have done such a good job, and I feel like when I put that on, it really does do a lot of the work for me in terms of making the character.”
  • The zombies only start to decay in typical zombie fashion when they are unable to feed. They call those zombies “Romeros” on set. Ruggiero-Wright explained, “If she didn’t eat, she would decay.  If we locked her in an elevator for a month, she would start to look like a regular zombie. Thomas elaborated, “In Episode 3, you see an example of what happens to one of our zombies if they don’t eat.  Marcy, Liv’s friend from the morgue, gets caught in a  essentially in a hole.”

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