Robert Buckley Provides the Scoop on ‘iZombie’

Robert Buckley iZombie Interview
Robert Buckley at the 2014 San Diego Comic Con (Photo by Richard Chavez/ShowbizJunkies)

When Robert Buckley sat down at our table in the iZombie press room, he was wearing a jacket and looked slightly overdressed for the 2014 San Diego Comic Con. That quickly changed as he shed the jacket and got down to the business of talking about the new series coming soon to The CW. And for those who have no idea what iZombie‘s about, here’s the synopsis courtesy of The CW:

Olivia “Liv” Moore (Rose McIver) was a rosy-cheeked, disciplined, over-achieving medical resident who had her life path completely mapped out…until the night she attended a party that unexpectedly turned into a zombie feeding frenzy. As one of the newly undead, Liv is doing her best to blend in and look as human as possible. Her appearance now passes for “Goth,” with shockingly pale skin and nearly white hair, and her demeanor has gone from exuberant to exhausted. The change in Liv is baffling to her mother, her former fiancé, Major (Robert Buckley), and her best friend and roommate, Peyton (Alexandra Krosney), who still has the high-energy, Type-A personality that Liv has completely abandoned.

Despite her post-traumatic ennui, Liv has devised a way to resist her baser urges to devour fresh human brains – she’s taken a job in the Seattle coroner’s office. In this appropriately dead-end job, Liv can secretly snack on the brains of the many Jane and John Doe corpses that make a final stop in the morgue. Despite carefully covering her tracks, Liv’s boss, Dr. Ravi Chakrabarti (Rahul Kohli), discovers her secret and is surprisingly excited about the scientific possibilities. Even with her boss’ enthusiasm, Liv remains resigned to an eternity without hope or purpose, until she realizes that with every brain she consumes, she retains a portion of that person’s memories. Liv begins to experience visions from the point of view of the murder victims.

Much to the surprise of Dr. Ravi and homicide detective Clive Babineaux (Malcolm Goodwin), Liv often has detailed knowledge of crime scenes and motives that she can’t easily explain. Posing as a psychic, she works with Detective Babineaux to investigate these crimes and discover who is responsible. It’s not the same as being alive again, but at least Liv can find purpose in her undead existence by helping Clive solve the murders of those who are indeed fully dead.

Robert Buckley iZombie Interview

What was the appeal?

Robert Buckley: “I love comic books. I grew up reading comics. I still read comics, except now I’m in my 30s so I call them graphic novels. So, I always wanted to be a superhero. Even though my character doesn’t exist in that comic book, he’s still part of the DC…Vertigo, and therefore DC property, so I’m kind of inching my way into being in a comic book.

The first conversation I had with Rob Thomas over the phone, we just hit it off. I think we maybe got four or five minutes into the phone call before we were talking about, ‘Do…?’ because I’m her ex-fiancee/former lover – ‘…zombies have sex? What’s their love life like?’ He’s talking and walking through an airport and I’m like, ‘This is the most absurd conversation. We’re going to be best friends.’ And that was the appeal.”

Who is this character you’re playing?

Robert Buckley: “Major Lilywhite is the name of my character and he’s Liv’s ex-fiancee. They were together for eight years and after her experience at a pool party which left her a zombie, if you will, she changes dramatically, and one of those changes is she breaks off the engagement. Unbeknownst to me and everyone else, we don’t know what she’s going through so I’m just sort of the… gilted has a negative connotation to it…but sort of the ex-fiancee waiting left holding the bag, like, ‘What happened?’ I don’t know if it’s some traumatic event, what’s going on, and I think he’s still very much holding out hope for the relationship. That’s where we see him start.”

So you’re not staying close to the source material?

Robert Buckley: “Not very. Did you ever see the movie RED?”

Yeah.

Robert Buckley: “You ever read the comic book RED? Then you know what I’m talking about. Which I appreciate because judging by that laugh, we’re all sort of geeky a little bit. Anybody that’s read it, they’re like, ‘RED? That’s not the book at all!’ They took the core idea and the title.”

Did you ever read the ‘graphic novel’?

Robert Buckley: “For all these print interviews I want it to be noted that the interviewer just air quoted ‘graphic novel’ making this subject very uncomfortable, this man-child look very very uncomfortable.. [Laughing] I had. I was aware there was a comic because I spend a lot of time in comic book stores, but then once it came around I went to the local shop and picked up the first two volumes of the graphic novel. But I did that actor thing where all I did was I’m thumbing through looking for the name Major and a guy who could kind of fit my build. I’m like, ‘There’s a ghost girlfriend, there’s like a weredog guy…’ I’m like, ‘What the hell?’ Two books and I’m like, ‘Hey man, where’s my character?’ They’re, ‘Oh yeah, we created him.’ Still a guy in a DC property – I’m going to take it.”

Is it better to play someone not in the comics because then you can create him?

Robert Buckley: “It is. The majority of the broadstrokes happen with Diane [Ruggiero-Wright] and Rob. They have a very good idea and then I think once we meet, whether it’s on set or just in conversation, is when the shortstrokes are filled out, like the nuances and the little things that he does that sort of inform who he is and what he’s about. So, they came in and they knew this was a guy who’s been with her. He’s the ex-fiancee; he’s still in love with her. Originally he was going to be an environmental engineer and it’s gone through several manifestations. Now he’s going to be a social worker. Ironically, one thing that’s funny is because the name Major was a cute guy at Diane’s high school she had a crush on and Lilywhite is one of Rob Thomas’ favorite collegiate football players, thus the name, so I’m a college football player so when the news broke that I’d been cast in this, all they said was, ‘Rob Buckley’s playing Major Lilywhite, Liv’s ex-fiancee who played college football.’ That was so arbitrary. Like, ‘By the way he was vegan six Christmases ago.’ What?”

-By Rebecca Murray

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