As one of the few Kiwis to ever front a big American network TV show, iZombie star Rose McIver is leading a surge in visibility for Antipodean actors in the US.
"It feels like there's no better time to be a Kiwi or an Australian trying to get work out in the States," she tells TimeOut during an exclusive chat in LA. "People are much more open to that. It's a double-edged sword because it's fun to be exotic and be the person who walks into the room with an accent but at the same time they can be pretty concerned that you won't be able to shake that accent so it's cool that there are a lot of doors open. But it's still a slog for everybody out there I think."
In iZombie, McIver plays morgue attendant Liv Moore (geddit?), a nice person who also happens to be a functioning zombie. She manages her condition by eating the brains of the cadavers that come into the morgue, which results in her taking on the personalities of the deceased, which in turn helps her solve any mysterious deaths. You could call it Murder, She Ate.
sets itself apart from certain other zombie TV shows by treating the zombies as a cultural minority, as opposed to an apocalyptic threat. As it enters its third season, McIver says the show will take on some political pertinence.
"In the first two seasons it feels like [the zombie world] was still something that was very squirelled away, and now, over the sort of arc of season three, I feel like we come to understand zombies and humans and how they interact a lot more. It's kind of a nice parallel that happens with the 'Us and Them' that we're seeing politically so much now and it feels like it couldn't be better timed in terms of that."
Because of all the different brains that Liv eats, McIver has to play at least two different characters in each episode. Although she says she enjoys how that keeps her on her toes, acting-wise, it adds to the famously exhaustive job of leading a network TV show.
"It's quite compromising in that it takes away from a lot of your time with your family and friends and relationships and it puts you in another place in the world and asks you to work all hours of the day. So I think it's a balance, it's not a cushy job, I don't think that I get a tonne of sleep, but I also know that I'm really fortunate to be doing what I'm doing."
McIver admits she has seen perceptions of New Zealand evolve in the three years she's been making iZombie.
"I look at that and I look the other way as well, how the US is perceived in New Zealand. I think that there's just so many misconceptions in both directions and especially with everything that's happening right now with Trump, a lot of people back home are saying 'Why are you living up there?'. There's narrow-mindedness all over the world and there's all sorts of pros and cons to both cultures and both communities and it's interesting that with the internet and with social media there's this kind of integration of these things a lot more and I hope that helps."
Who: Kiwi Rose McIver
What: Season 3 of iZombie is available on TVNZ OnDemand
When: Episode one online now with new episodes each week