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Audiences craving more brains are in for a treat. Zom-rom-com iZombie will return on May 2 for its upcoming fifth and final season. The series picks up with Liv (Rose McIver) achieving rogue-hero status as Renegade, the leader of an organization working outside of the law. Meanwhile, in the wake of Chase Graves' death, Major (Robert Buckley) has taken charge of the military organization, Fillmore-Graves. In the past, the two zombies have been romantically linked, but their new roles and separate agendas could put the ultimate strain on that relationship.
During an iZombie set visit in November, McIver and Buckley spoke to SYFY WIRE and members of the press about brain-eating antics, Liv and Major's roles as leaders, the fate of their relationship, and the benefits of couples therapy.
Last season did not end on the best note for Major and Liv's relationship. Can you talk about their journey as friends and possibly something more next season?
Buckley: Can I also just say in the grand scheme of Liv and Major's relationship, this wasn't terrible. They've had some pretty low lows. This is actually more like par for the course. Major literally died one time. He didn't die this time. I'd say this is a C, C+.
McIver: We've been saying that we would love Liv and Major to work out, but we certainly need them to get a good couples therapist. They have really had a journey. We're also thinking it would have been a good opportunity for Ravi to eat the brain of a therapist and treat them. That will be the spinoff. I don't know. We'll work on it.
Yeah, it wasn't great, but it wasn't as bad as it's been. And, also, it planted the seeds for a new order. The new Renegade. The new Filmore-Graves. We are stepping into these roles that we had kind of been mimicking other people before. Now we get to put our own stamp on them. I feel like this year is a healthy growth towards being on the same team again.
How does stepping into these leadership roles for both characters change them?
Buckley: I had an interesting experience the first day of this season, where I was sitting at Chase Graves' desk. Me personally, Rob, I was uncomfortable in the chair. I couldn't figure out, "How am I supposed to sit for the scene?" And I was like, "That's perfect. That's exactly how Major should feel." This isn't his desk. This isn't his position. This isn't the job he wanted.
So, I felt like that defines Major. It's uncomfortable. We see that he has begun to institute some of his own policies, so it's not quite as rigid as Chase Graves was. But a big part of Major's story is trying to find the middle ground of how to balance what he wants with everyone else's needs. So it's a very uncomfortable transitional time.
McIver: I feel like Liv is a zombie with a big, bleeding heart. She wants so much for the people around her. She sometimes doesn't see the complications that arise, and the consequences from her actions. She's very idealistic and I think you need those people. But, there's certainly room for Liv and Major to share their ideas, and for some logic going forward about how exactly this is supposed to sustain itself. It's a growing problem. The brain supply is struggling. Loving everybody isn't actually going to fix it. It's an interesting journey for her.
We do see [the] return of her mother and her brother. That's really challenging for Liv, too. She's dealt with lots of dead boyfriends. She's certainly had a lot of loss before. The family card is something we [haven't] really explored. I know for me, as an actor, that was really exciting to have this whole window into a different part of Liv to look into. It's something that she had buried and ignored for a long time, just to get on with things. That certainly brings back a vulnerability in a major way this season.
Going back to Liv and Major's relationship, or lack thereof, do you want to see them end up together by the end of the series?
McIver: I think if it's going to be a healthy, good relationship… I do. But I don't think that you can pretend that the last few years haven't happened and just mask over it. They have to have a common goal and to want the same things. It's the same for anyone I know. I don't think that friends break up and I'd go, "I wish you were together." I think, "Well, maybe they've broken up for a reason."
If it comes back around in the right way for people to get back together, I'd fully check into that. I think they love each other very much and would be a great couple. But it's a big world with a lot going on. It would have to be for the benefit for them both.
Buckley: I think contingent upon Liv acknowledging what a jerk she's been. Maybe if there was a sincere apology.
McIver: What was I saying about couple's therapy?
Buckley: Yeah, I think also her agreeing to go to couple's therapy. Then I would like to see it work. She really has to clean her act up.
McIver: He has to offer the couple's therapy, though. I don't have to ask for it. He has to volunteer it.
Buckley: That's fair. That's fair.
Can you talk about some of your favorite brains you get to eat this season and some of the craziness that ensues because of it?
McIver: Salsa dancing brain was pretty fun. It was crazy. It was a lot of work, just to try to get a dance routine together and get back in shape and flexible again. I hadn't danced for a long time. That was really, really fun. Great costumes, but definitely not a relaxing episode.
Buckley: Kudos to Rose, real quick. As an actor, it's always terrifying when you get a call from a writer and they are like, "Hey, can you sing? Or, can you blank." Cause you are always like, "Oh sh**." In my case, I can't. And every week Rose has to do that, and every week she delivers. It kind of becomes the norm. Yeah, she had to salsa dance. If that had been me, what a disaster that would have been.
McIver: Not true. I've seen those hands.
Buckley: How dare you. I'm in the middle of complimenting you and you mock me.
McIver: I don't. I don't.
Buckley: Compliment over. I'm done. You are good at what you do.
McIver: Thank you. I hear you. I hear what you are saying. My feeling is that in Season 5, like I think in some shows, you can coast a little more when you know the character and you know what you are doing. I have found, for me, each season gets harder because it's trying to mine something more. I certainly can't relax into knowing Liv at this point. I give that to the writers, as well, and to everybody involved in the show and how they handle the brains. There's a lot of excavation.
I feel like I've worked harder this season than I've ever worked on a show before. And just to keep it new and original. I feel like it's really worked, and it's paid off. I'm more excited for this season than I have been for any in terms of the new layers we see in people. One of my favorite things is Malcolm's humor this season. Clive Babineaux has always been funny, but he leans into it this year in a way that I'm like, "Hats off to Malcolm." He really does a great job. And he directs an episode, just casually. The overachiever award goes to Malcolm.
Robert, do you get to eat any brains that transform you?
Buckley: Am I allowed to answer that? I don't eat any brains this year.
McIver: Hey, it's not the end yet.
Buckley: That's actually true. We haven't read [Episodes] 10, 11, 12, or 13.
McIver: I've read 10.
How has this felt like a final season so far, or has it?
Buckley: Rose reminds us weekly that she's like, "As soon as they call cut on that last scene, you don't know me. I don't know you." I hear that weekly.
McIver: Full diva. I went full diva. I thought, "You know what? It's now or never. I might never get a job again. I'm just going to be hell for this last year."
Buckley: She also threw a Diet Coke at a grip. She's been acting terrible.
Have showrunners Rob Thomas or Diane Ruggiero told you how the series is going to end, or even hinted at it?
McIver: I know little pieces of certain characters and stuff that I've managed to gleam when I've harassed them when they are up here, or when the writers are up there. But, no, I don't actually know. There's so much going on for us each episode and, as I said, we are all working to find new things each episode.
I haven't found myself with time or brain capacity to think too far ahead. I'm just kind of focused on what's happening right now. And, also, I don't want to spoil it yet. There's already going to be a bit of separation anxiety, so, I'm like, "Let me just pretend it's not ending for a minute longer." I'm still ambitious that we are going to get some spinoff movie at some point.