BCP Interview – Malcolm Goodwin talks iZombie, eating brains and spitting rhymes
Warning: This interview contains spoilers from seasons one and two of iZombie.
Most people say, “One night of fun won’t kill you.” Which is true for most people. However, Olivia “Liv” Moore is not a regular person. She’s the main character on a television series called “iZombie” portrayed by Rose McIver. Her night of fun results not only in her death, but in her becoming a zombie.
Forced to give up her dreams of being a doctor and marrying her seemingly perfect boyfriend (who is a hot social worker), Liv now works at a medical examiner’s office in order to gain access to the brain she requires. Her unique dietary requirements give also her the ability to see visions and pick up specific traits of the original “organ donor.” Posing as a psychic, Liv works with Seattle PD Detective Clive Babineaux played by Malcolm Goodwin to solve homicidal crimes.
Despite appearing in 32 episodes of the series so far, little to nothing is known about Babineaux’s personal life. In fact, there are really only two episodes that get into the specifics of the character. The first episode to reveal something about the character’s past can be found in season one, episode four “Liv and Let Clive”, where viewers get a glimpse of Clive’s early days working vice. In season two episode eight “The Hurt Stalker” we learn that Clive’s ex-girlfriend Regina Summers and that he can play the piano, enjoys cooking and a fan of “Game of Thrones.”
Well, with the finale to Season Two right around the corner, we had the opportunity to catch up with Goodwin to talk about his character and the future of The CW series, among many other topics.
Big Comic Page: Thank you so much for doing this interview!
Malcolm Goodwin: No problem it’s my pleasure.
Big Comic Page: Let’s start with the Pilot episode. There’s a bit of a zombie movie on the boat. Are you a fan of zombie movies or do they freak you out like Clive?
Goodwin: Horror movies in general freak me out but actually through doing so much press with “iZombie” I realized I’ve watched more zombie movies than I realize. One of my favorites is Danny Boyle’s “28 Days Later” from a technical side of things. In terms of how it was shot (the entire film was shot digitally) and how they achieved certain lighting effects. I was still in theater school and my best friends were also the film makers so I went to see it with them and I loved it. It became one of my favorite zombie movies. I’ve seen so many but that would probably be my favorite.
Big Comic Page: Detective Babineaux addresses that Liv takes on the personality of the murder victim this season. Does he have a working theory as to why? Does he think she’s bipolar or does he suspect that she is a zombie?
Goodwin: Since season one, Clive notices that Liv picks up the traits of the murder victims. He just doesn’t say anything since he’s at work. The number one priority is solving these cases and finding the killers and two is relying on Liv’s visions. The personality thing is more of a side thing for him; it’s not as important.
There’s a scene that pretty much sums up Clive in a nutshell. He walks in and see Liv dissecting a rat at a morgue for a human beings. He sees it, looks at Ravi then looks at Liv and no one says anything and then he moves on to the case, which is always his priority. So that’s how he deals with Liv’s personality. He thinks she’s acting weird, but we have to get back to the case, so he regards it with a look. And Clive has tunnel vision about getting the job done, but he’s always noticed it, he just hasn’t said anything until this point.
Big Comic Page: In season one, we got a glimpse of Clive’s early days in vice. Can we expect another episode that dives into Clive’s past in season three?
Goodwin: I hope so. I love finding out new things about Clive because as the audience finds out, I find out. We delved into a past relationship he had with his ex-girlfriend who is a badge bunny this season. I had never heard that term before reading the script never but it is a thing. We also found out that he’s a “Game of Thrones” fan, that he enjoys cooking and plays the piano and all that’s stuff that makes the character more relatable.
Big Comic Page: Vice Clive seems like a character you’d find on “The Wire.” Which version do you like prefer playing, the aloof or serious version of Clive?
Goodwin: [Laughs] Do I want to play the HBO version of Clive or The CW’s version? That’s funny! I like the balance of both. There is something I like about a character that has a dark side, but he’s dedicated to his purpose which is solving these crimes. I think it will be interesting to find out why he’s so dedicated and so committed. I think that would be some fun stuff to explore from his past.
I enjoyed playing tough Clive, but Clive was playing a role too. He was acting in terms of playing “Evil Clive” since he was undercover, so it wasn’t really him. Or was it? He did go to some scary places which is what he said, and he learned through that and he has a bad reputation because of it. I mean, he had to beat up his partner almost to death in order to keep his cover and to save his partner’s life. He did what he had to do while he was undercover which meant going to extremes, which is consistent with how he works with Liv in terms of believing that she’s a psychic, which is an idiotic dream. But we’re 32 – 0! So it’s working despite what everyone says and how crazy it sounds. The fact is we’re getting results. But yeah, playing so called “Evil Clive” or tough Clive was fun. So why not bring him back!
Big Comic Page: In last week’s episode, Detective Lou Benedetto (Enrico Colantoni) says to Babineaux, “You’re going to need backup one day and I hope that it gets there in time.” That sounds pretty ominous. Does that foreboding reference play out in the two part season finale tonight?
Goodwin: It does play out a little bit, but there’s another situation that happens that takes precedent over that particular lingering threat. It did feel and sound like a threat but Clive’s used it since he’s always been getting it at the police station. Even with his coworkers like Detective Cavanaugh (Robert Salvador). As friendly as he is, he saw a chance to take Clive down and he takes advantage of that opportunity. So he knows that everyone is after him on the police force and people are unforgiving of him for what he did in vice in terms of how far he was willing to go. It plays out a little bit but I wouldn’t focus too much on that because something bigger is happening. But maybe we’ll revisit that fully in season three, but it stays there for right now.
Big Comic Page: Hypothetically, if Clive was dying, would he want Liv to bring him back as a zombie like she did with Major (Robert Buckley)?
Goodwin: The joke is that Clive wouldn’t want to be a zombie because he doesn’t think he would look like a zombie. I don’t think that the pale look would look as good on him as it does on Liv and Major. I think Clive would look ashy like he needs some lotion or something like that so he’d be looking really dry. Clive is very metro in terms of his stature and style. He likes a particular style and I don’t know if the pale skin would work for him, but we’ll see if that decision ever has to be made.
Big Comic Page: Clive tells Liv that she can trust him with anything. How do you think he’d react if Liv just told him upfront that she was a zombie?
Goodwin: That’s a good question. I don’t know. Obviously his reaction now would be way different from how he would react to that news in season one. I think Clive would have a hard time believing it because he doesn’t know zombies as walking and talking/existing people. Zombies to him are “The Walking Dead” zombies, “28 Days Later” zombies, “World War Z” zombies. Zombies don’t talk. They don’t exist. He doesn’t know that, as such, so if she were to say that I think he would ask are you not sleeping at night or are you on your iPhone too much or what is it? Liv and the zombies on our show are not the normal definition of zombies. Those type of zombies don’t exist in shows. We know them as George Romero zombies or as we call them on the show “Romero zombies”. But I think it would be hard for him to believe.
Big Comic Page: Let’s shift gears and talk about set life behind the camera. Some of the concoctions that Liv and even Blaine (David Anders) came up with look delicious. Do you get to enjoy some of those snacks after each take?
Goodwin: I do not. And I don’t envy them for eating those brains. I had to do it one time in season one. The brains are actually Agar a Japanese gelatin. Eating it by itself is tolerable the problem is when you have to mix it. I had to eat it with cheese, anchovies, olives, peperoni and parmesan. AND IT WAS AWFUL! WHEN YOU MIX IT TOGETHER IT’S TERRIBLE! Apparently there were a couple recipes that Rose says was really good like the stir fry. But we have a real cook on set that prepares those dishes.
Big Comic Page: So it’s not Kraft services?
Goodwin: Oh no no! There is a guy whose job is to make these dishes. Fans have asked for a cookbook. And this guy who is on our set could actually put out a cookbook because he puts time putting those recipes together and making them look edible. But the hamburger looked the most delicious to me and then I would say the stir fry.
Big Comic Page: Rose and Rahul Kohli have great chemistry. How difficult is it to stay in character/play the straight man comedy beat when interacting with those two? Have there been multiple takes because one of you or all of you burst into laughter?
Goodwin: I have to be the one who holds it together in terms of playing the straight man and getting to it. But whenever we’re in the morgue we crack up. There’s a certain section in front of the computers and we know that something is going to happen in that section that is going to break us. And we have to try not to laugh but it’s fun and extremely difficult. What’s great about it though is we use it to bring energy, rhythm and flow in to the scene. But we crack. It’s impossible not to.
Big Comic Page: Who from the cast would you want with you in the zombie apocalypse?
Goodwin: I’d have to say Rahul. He’s a hardcore gamer he plays everything. We play a lot of role playing game and he plays the zombie games and stuff. So I think that his knowledge of surviving the apocalypse and what he’s picked up from the various video games would actually be a big help if there was a zombie apocalypse.
Big Comic Page: Liv doesn’t get to pick and choose the character traits and “abilities,” but if you could choose someone in the cast whose personality would you want and what skill would you get with it?
Goodwin: I’d say Rose. She is one of the kindest people you could ever meet. She’s very warm and it’s sincere. She’s the real thing. She also has quite the memory. You could tell her a story and she could tell you in detail two years later without it ever coming back up. And you sit there asking how did you know that? And she goes, you told me that. And I go I TOLD YOU THAT? WHEN DID I TELL YOU THAT? She remembers everything. Her mind is a trap once it’s in there she holds on to it and she does that with everyone. Rose has this great warm quality to her and with that great memory it allows her to interact with people genuinely. Not to say that I’m not like that. I’m a warm person myself but there is something very different with Rose, something contagious that makes you drawn to her and makes you trust her to tell her your darkest most intimate secrets. I appreciate that and I think that great.
Big Comic Page: The show’s format allows it to play around with genres. Is there a particular genre that you would like to see explored in an episode or two?
Goodwin: That’s good question. I’m going to say musical. We’ve been saying it for the last two seasons because Rose has a great voice and David has a great voice. Rahul can rap. I can rap and I carry a tune. Buckley who plays Major on the show is so enthusiastic when he commits to a song verse and it is so great. I thought he was amazing last episode! He commits and it’s so contagious you just want to sing with him. I actually think we could pull off a musical episode just like “Buffy” did except with some Hamilton vibes we’ve got to add some hip-hop in there. It doesn’t always have to be these huge “Sound of Music” numbers. You’ve got to mix it up mix genres within that genre.
Big Comic Page: I would love to see that! My head would explode if I got to see you and Rahul spitting some mad rhymes.
Goodwin: Can you imagine Babineaux and Ravi just sitting there and then all of a sudden start spitting rhymes?! I put Ravi on the spot a lot and I don’t think anyone has heard his rhyming skills outside of going to karaoke. But he can spit, he’s the best rapper on set.
Big Comic Page: There’s a lot about Clive that viewers don’t know, and similarly I don’t know if people know that Malcolm Goodwin is a director as well. Has there been any talk about you directing an upcoming episode of “iZombie?”
Goodwin: The cast and producers have been supportive and everyone has been talking about it before season three got picked up saying we have to get Malcom to direct an episode. And I’ve been the one that wants to focus on being in front of the camera. I don’t want to double back and forth. But there’s been talk, especially from Executive Producer Dan Etheridge and Director Michael Fields, who actually directed the finale, and they’ve been very supportive of my directing endeavors, which I took a break from this year.
Just to regroup and enjoy the experience of being on iZombie, giving 1000% to Clive and just to slow down a bit to enjoy everything happening around me. But literally in the next few months, I’ll be back on the horse producing projects again and picking up the ones I want to direct in 2017. There has been so much support for me to direct an episode of season three, so we’ll see. If the opportunity comes I’d be crazy not to accept it.
Big Comic Page: What has been your favorite episode to shoot?
Goodwin: These last two. Specifically this next one; it’s so special, but both episodes go together so it’s hard to separate them. I know it’s convenient because the season’s finale is tomorrow but it’s the honest to God truth. But these two would be my favorite ones so far.
Big Comic Page: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us, and all the best for season three.
Malcolm also had this to say, “If you are having an “iZombie” viewing party SEND ME PICS! Tweet me pics. Let me see it. Share your reactions with me on social media because we’ll all be live tweeting together.”
You can follow him and tweet him @malcolmjgoodwin and the official iZombie account @CWiZombie
Be sure to catch the two part season finale tonight at 8/7 central on The CW
The writer of this piece is: Laurence Almalvez
Laurence tweets from @IL1511
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