Actress to Know: ‘iZombie’ Star Rose McIver
Full disclosure: I watch The CW like it’s my job. Okay, technically it is my job as entertainment director, but can you really blame my addiction? The network has aired many an angsty television gem over the years—need we remind you of Veronica Mars, One Tree Hill, and Gossip Girl?—and its latest series, iZombie, is no different. The show, which follows a medical resident–turned-zombie who gains physic powers by feeding on human brains, stars New Zealand native Rose McIver, an actress quickly climbing our ones-to-watch list.
McIver first broke onto the scene back in the 2009 Academy Award–nominated film The Lovely Bones, but it’s her more recent turns as Vivian Scully on HBO’s Masters of Sex and Liv Moore in iZombie that have us buzzing. We caught up with the actress to chat about everything from her exciting new role to her fashion favorites. Keep reading for our exclusive interview, and be sure to tune in to the latest episode of iZombie tonight on The CW at 9 p.m.
There are so many different takes on zombies today. What sets the iZombie story apart from others?
I feel like iZombie is a world that acknowledges that zombies exist in pop culture. And it looks at the trajectory of zombie movies like Night of the Living Dead and 28 Days Later and acknowledges them in a way I think we haven’t seen before. So it lends itself to being a lot of fun and lighthearted.
You’re in a zombie apocalypse and you have to leave your house right away. What article of clothing do you grab first?
A bike helmet. I would rather be running in my thermals with a bike helmet than anything else, because that’s what zombies are going to be going for, so it’s for protection.
Liv solves homicide cases by inheriting memories. If you could solve any real-life case or mystery, which would it be and why?
Well I think in moral terms it would be nice to get inside a missing person’s case, but for pure sensationalist curiosity, I think it would be really interesting to know what happened with Marilyn Monroe.
Liv has a signature beauty look (pale skin, dark eyes). What’s your go-to look in real life?
I think good skin is always appealing, so actually a skincare regime would be my go-to favorite thing, like a nice moisturizer. I’ve been loving Kate Somerville lately. I think it’s nice to see people’s real beauty and who they are. In my own life, when it’s not for photo shoots or anything else, I think it’s nice to have quite a minimal look.
What has been the most exciting part of joining the cast of Masters of Sex?
Allison Janney—I’m a huge fan of hers. I think she is so endearing and smart and beautiful and surprising as an actor. You know, she makes really great choices. Whenever I work with her, I feel very inspired, and it’s a good reminder of the ability for it to be a creative process.
The show takes place in the ’50s. Are you inspired at all by the fashion of that era?
Very much so. My body type in general doesn’t lend itself to model-ish clothes and big baggy T-shirts and things like that. I tend to look a lot better with tapered waists and very feminine designs, so working on a show based in the 1950s is just a godsend for that reason.
You were a Power Ranger at one point! What was the best part about playing the Yellow Ranger?
Well it’s safe to say that I wasn’t inspired by the fashion of the Power Rangers; I was very ready to see the death of my yellow spandex suit. But the best part was it had a large stunt component. That was really great to develop a strong understanding of martial arts and being able to keep on top of that physical acting ability. But also, just working with friends. It shot in New Zealand about a half an hour away from where I lived, and I was working with people, a lot of whom I had know since I was 12, so it was a great group of people and very fun.
Describe your personal style in three words.
Feminine. Practical. Fresh.
What are some of your favorite places to shop (in the U.S. and New Zealand)?
In New Zealand, my favorites are Juliette Hogan and RUBY. I absolutely love their lines; they have brilliant stuff. In terms of out here… I mean, all sorts. I walked into Barneys the other day, and that’s a dangerous place for me to be. I like little boutiques as well, like Mohawk General Store in Silver Lake, and there’s another one called Bucks & Does. Both carry a great range of designers and some braver choices that I wouldn’t necessarily make walking around a department store.
Is there a piece you are wearing over and over right now?
Yes, a red playsuit from RUBY, which is the New Zealand label I was talking about. It’s great, because in L.A. it’s supposed to be spring, but it’s 86 degrees today, so I am very happy that the piece is light and almost like you are wearing nothing at all. It’s great for those long freeway drives in the heat.
What’s your favorite weekend escape?
I really like Point Mugu, which is north of Malibu. There’s a little campsite up there that my friends and I discovered a couple of years ago, and we were actually back there last weekend camping. It’s really cute. It’s quaint, right next to the water, and only an hour and a half outside the city, so you can’t justify it being too far. I really like spending time at the beach. I grew up near the water at home, and it feels very good for me.
I read that you write from time to time. What do you like to write?
My long-term goal is I would love to write a novel. I am an avid reader myself of fiction, and that’s something I’d really like to do. I’ve written a film called Crystal that we’re hoping to make within the next couple of years. It’s something that I would just be acting as a writer and a producer on. I am not going to be in it, and I think that was a wise decision for the first script, to write something where there is no agenda for you or how you want to portray yourself or a character that is particularly fascinating for me to play, but just characters that I’m interested in and empathize with, and just working on developing those.
In terms of writing a novel, what kind of genres are you interested in?
Well, I love people like Jonathan Franzen and Wally Lamb and Donna Hart; those are some examples of novelists that currently inspire me. And Margaret Atwood. Just contemporary authors who write and understand the human condition and write with a lot of empathy. I really like that Wally Lamb is fascinated by women’s penitentiaries. He works a lot with the New York correctional institute and the female prisoners and gets them to tell their stories and curates and edits these amazing pieces. I just think empathetic stories where we understand people’s transgressions and backstories and who people are and where they come from and why they make the decisions they do, that’s something that really interests me.
What are you currently reading?
I just finished a book called The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan that is this really harrowing, fascinating story about Australian POWs working in the Japanese empire building the railway train to Burma. It’s just an amazing, very textured story of these two men from other sides of the world trying to be good people but making bad decisions at times. Again, it’s all about empathy and why people make these silly, horrific choices in life but believe they are doing the right thing. I absolutely loved it, but it’s very dark, so I’m actually on the lookout for something that is a little lighter, just something really funny. I do like to read funny novels. I remember this guy, Mil Millington, who writes really funny novels, so I’m going to have to find one of his.
You’ve played a wide range of characters in your career. Is there something you haven’t done yet that you would like to?
Yes, I would like to play a villain. I’ve never played a true villain. That’s something I’m actually looking at for a couple of [projects] right now, so it’s very much on the horizon.
Do you have a favorite villain?
Javier Bardem was pretty good in [Skyfall]. And people like Tilda Swinton are wonderful; she does that very, very well.
What is your TV guilty pleasure?
You know what, I tuned in to one of the most shocking, ridiculous reality shows I’ve ever heard of—it’s almost like a car accident I couldn’t look away from—called Bridalplasty. I have to confess I watched two full episodes. It’s brides competing, and the winner gets drastic plastic surgery. I couldn’t believe it. That was one of those things that is totally salacious, and I watched it fascinated and kind of in shock.
What song are you listening to on repeat?
I’ve been doing a little bit of a throwback with Blaze Foley, an old country singer. The song is “If I Could Only Fly.” It’s really sad but beautiful.