Rose McIver on Bringing iZombie to Life

Damian Holbrook
Kharen Hill/The CW

iZombie Rose McIver

Almost a year after shooting the pilot for her new hit drama iZombie (The CW, 9/8c), Rose McIver is at long last having her moment. And it was so worth the wait. "It's unusual to be finished your shooting schedule before something starts to air, but actually it was fantastic because it meant we could concentrate on really getting to know our show," says McIver, who's been stealing hearts and eating brains as Liv Moore, a Seattle doctor-turned-medical examiner who, after being attacked by a zombie, became gifted with the ability to see how people died—by snacking on their cerebellum. "Now we're able to celebrate it [and] it's nice that is finally has an audience." Here, the delightful New Zealand vet of Once Upon a Time and Masters of Sex opens up about adding a new twist to an old genre, on-set energy, and how she's ready for undead action.

Liv Wants to Live!

Despite her gooey, gray matter diet and new emo look, our pasty heroine is determined to get her groove back. "She was a bubbly, vivacious person before all of this," notes McIver. "The idea is that when we met her in the pilot as a zombie, she was morose and forlorn and down on her luck…things have been really awful for her." Now armed with a new lease on life and drive to advocate for murder victims, the actress feels that Liv is regaining a "sense of personality and purpose" that far outweighs her initial ennui. "The lightness begins to creep back in."

It's More About the "I" than the Zombie

Although McIver's not worried about pop culture's possible zombie burnout—"they made Night of the Living Dead years and years ago, that's decades old and [people still] love it," she says—McIver agrees that the show would work sans the undead aspect. "There are certain moments where the zombie genre stuff really comes in to it, but by and large, it's a story of a girl who is looking for her sense of identity again after having dealt with a crisis," she offers, crediting the Vertigo Comics source material and creator Rob Thomas's (Veronica Mars) knack for writing smart female characters. "She is just trying to find her way in the world and looking to balance her relationships. It's a very human story for a zombie show, you know?"

Chemistry In and Out of the Lab

Even though the cast includes some CW royalty, including One Tree Hill vet Robert Buckley and The Vampire Diaries' David Anders, McIver marvels at the chill vibe among the entire ensemble. "There's been no diva behavior," she says. "Everyone just gelled."

The Rocking Dead

Forget those lumbering walkers on AMC, this zombie kicks ass. And we have McIver's stint as the Yellow Ranger on 2009's Power Rangers RPM to thank for that. "We had to train a lot for stunts [on that show] and I also did gymnastics and dance growing up, so I feel quite confident," she says of her physical acumen. "But don't tell the producers that, or they'll make me do all sorts of ridiculous things!"

iZombie, Tuesdays, 9/8c, The CW