Exclusive interview with iZombie’s Malcolm Goodwin

Photo Credit: Travis Hoffman & Ro Palma
Photo Credit: Travis Hoffman & Ro Palma

Malcolm Goodwin, who you may recognize from his starring roles on Breakout Kings or his many other guest appearances on shows including Blue Bloods, CSI, and Wayward Pines, currently stars as Clive Babineaux on the CW’s iZombie. Talk Nerdy With Us caught up with Malcolm to learn a little bit about the man behind the detective and to hear his thoughts on playing the one character who doesn’t know there’s a zombie problem in Seattle. Read on to hear what he had to say!

I’m really excited to be chatting with you! iZombie has quickly become one of my favorite shows.

Aw, thanks. That’s cool. I appreciate that. 

Before getting involved with this show, were you a fan of  the sci-fi/zombie genre?

Yeah, I was a huge sci-fi fan. I realize I’ve seen so many zombie movies but without saying “hey I’m going to see a zombie movie.” For example, 28 Days Later. I went to see that because I’m a fan of the filmmaker and I’m a fan of the technology. There was this new…they shot it with 30 frames per second cameras. I thought that was just great technology-wise and I wanted to be blown away by it. World War Z, I have a friend in it. So I went to see it because I’m friends with Badge Dale and I ended up loving it.  And then Shaun of the Dead, I’m a Simon Pegg fan. So I’ve watched so many zombie movies just kinda being a fan of the people involved more than seeing it because it was a zombie movie. But I’ve always been a fan of all sci-fi movies, it’s probably one of my favorite genres.

So when you first ready the iZombie script, what attracted you to it?

The writing. It was the writing. It was fast paced, the different dynamics of the characters, it was hilarious, it had a lot of heart. I was a fan of Rob Thomas already, I did watch Veronica Mars and Party Down. So I was a fan of his work. And just recently, literally a few months before that, he had raised the big Kickstarter campaign, making history with that. I had followed that entire development. I was blown away, I was literally laughing out loud reading the (iZombie) script. I just like “Oh my gosh, I really really hope…this would be so great to be a part of, if this is meant to be.” Luckily, it happened. Thankfully, it happened. 

You’re involved every week in the case of the week. What has been your favorite one so far?

[Laughing]  There’s been so many. This one coming up…it’s funny we shoot the episodes back-to-back-to-back, they become like one case, it becomes sort of hard to differentiate. But [tonight’s] episode is a great one. It’s one of my favorite cases of the week. More so because it’s the first time that Liv embodies the character in terms of how she dresses. She always gets the mannerisms, she gets traits, she gets things like that, the good and the bad. But she now embodies the fashion sense with the long nails and the dress. We were all on set and we were like “Wow!” when we saw Rose come through all Housewives of Seattle. It kind of enhanced the comedy a little. People always say “When is Clive going to say something about her personalities?” But he never does. He just kinda reacts to it and moves on, he just kinda brushes it off. He’s a tunnel vision kind of guy, so he just worries about getting the job done no matter what wackiness and crazy insanity is happening around him. But this time, it’s like, “Wait a minute, you actually look like the people we’re interrogating. You’re actually embodying them…” So it was fun to play that differently. And it’s also a really really fun case.

I was wondering about that. How do you think Clive makes sense of all of Liv’s personalities?

I don’t know if there’s an episode coming up where he does give his theory, and I don’t know what the theory is, but I was told that a theory is in the works. Obviously, for me, as the actor, I have to make sense of it. I grew up with people who are tunnel vision, who don’t question things like that. It’s a specific personality type. Clive is just so tunnel vision, he’s so focused on his strong sense of justice that he just lets it go. He doesn’t really pay attention to it. Obviously some things get a little crazy and out there, but that’s the only way he’s ever known Liv. She has always been like that. They don’t have a relationship prior to her being like that. That’s how he knows her. If anything he thinks she’s bipolar or moody or, I don’t know. [Laughs]. But in terms of the official answer, that’s coming up, apparently, I’m told in a few episodes. 

How does it feel being the only character on the show at this point who doesn’t know about the zombies?

I like it! It’s one of those things where, our show is so grounded in pop culture. We talk about The Walking Dead, we talk about Game of Thrones, we talk about things happening right now. So I always feel like Clive represents the average person, the regular, normal person who’s in this world, who would have no idea. There’s no belief in zombies. His idea of zombies is a Walking Dead zombie, not a zombie who is psychic, who has, in his opinion, probably a personality disorder. These aren’t the descriptions that you go “that’s a zombie.” I think somebody said that, I read in some post. It was like “Why are people giving Clive crap because he doesn’t know she’s a zombie.” Where’s the clue? Oh..Psychic, white hair, personality disorder…wait a minute, are you a zombie? Those are not the descriptions of a zombie and that’s all the information he’s been privy to. So he’s not going to think she’s a zombie.

I think he just needs more evidence and I think that so far, I like that Clive doesn’t know yet. It keeps the real world the real world, if you know what I mean. Obviously, I think that, at some point, once things start to unravel…I mean, come on, if he sees her eat brains, that’s a big get. But he hasn’t seen her do that yet [laughs]. He hasn’t seen her go full on zombie mode, he hasn’t seen her get shot. He hasn’t seen any of these things. He’s just a rookie detective trying to make a name for himself and rebuild his reputation, so he has bigger fish to fry.

We got a tiny bit of insight into Clive’s background last season with some of the information about when he was undercover. Will we get any more information about Clive’s personal life in season 2?

Oh, yeah.

Oh good!

Oh, yeah, you get tons of it. There’s tons of it. Anything that makes Clive Clive, in terms of why he’s as patient as he is, and loyal, and also I always say tunnel vision, that’s what I always work with. That’s why he has such a strong sense of justice. At work he’s a very very straight man, but it’s been a lot of fun this season to play the opposite side of Clive. Those episodes are coming up, so you’re going to find some fun surprising things about what Clive does when he’s not at work, when he loosens up his tie and takes off the badge. You’re going to get a lot of backstory.

Good. I was hoping for that. So, here’s a fun question. Knowing Rose McIver and working with her and seeing her take on all these personalities, what do you think would be a fun brain for her to take on?

I actually answered a question similar to this last year and actually she emboies that brain this season, it’s in episode 4. I always say Rose has a beautiful, beautiful voice, singing voice. Just a natural, it’s pure, even her just humming, she sounds incredible. We always sing songs and improvise songs on set, in between takes. There are some times where we’re having trouble with a line, you know how we get the line right? We sing it out. We sing it musically and then I promise you we’ll never forget the line. So we have our little tricks, especially when you’re on your 14th, 15th hour of shooting. Those are the power hours and that’s also when you get a little delirious and a little more sing-songy. So I said she can just embody a singer so that the fans and the world can hear that incredible voice that we get to hear between takes. 

I remember there was one time with Rose, Rose knows the entire Miseducation of Lauryn Hill album. Entire thing. Verbatim. And I was like, “No you don’t,” and I kept naming songs and she knew it. I’m telling you, it was amazing. So that was the brain that I really wanted her to eat. Now that she’s doing that, I would say another brain that would be interesting would be a dancer. She can dance, too. 

It’s fun. Every episode she really is somebody else. 

Yeah, and the way she pulls it off and just trying to find that balance. She goes from, she wrapped at midnight from bro brain and then wakes up, gets to set at 6:30 the next day, and she has to do housewife brain. And after playing the bro brain for 8 days and literally having just a night’s sleep to embody another character. Not everybody can do that. I think she makes it look easy, but that’s just a testament to her talent. We’re amazed every single episode. 

Our site is called Talk Nerdy With Us, so to help us get to know you a little better, tell me what you like to nerd out about.

Technology. I’m a big tech geek. I’m also a filmmaker, so in terms of all the new cameras, I’ve owned, you know, the XL-1s, the DVXs, the As the Bs, the HVXs, the 7Ds, I got a 5D. I’ve shot with the Red 1, the MX. I’m a big camera nerd in terms of how things are shown. That’s why I was saying earlier, you know with Danny Boyle, the way they shot 28 Days Later, the camera they shot that with and the way they had to light it, I went to see it originally just because of the technology. Sometimes, I will go to see films because of the technology, just because I have to see how they pull that off. I’m a big tech geek in that way, I”m a big software fanatic. I was an editor for years. Commercials, music videos. So I’m well-versed in Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro. I’m okay with Avid, I’m more a Final Cut fan than Avid. I can get real nerdy with that. I think people are surprised, who only know me as an actor. When they come to my place and see my entire setup, they go, “Holy crap, are you serious?” [Laughs]. I love doing this, though. That’s what I’m super super nerdy about. 



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