Robert Buckley plays Major Lilywhite on the CW’s iZombie. A character who first appeared to be a wholesome boy-next-door, Major is now blossoming into a very complex zombie killer. Talk Nerdy With Us had the opportunity to catch up with Buckley and talk about the evolution of Major, what we can expect from season 2, and the story behind one of TV’s most epic bromances. Read on to hear what Robert had to say.
I am not typically a zombie person, but I love [creator] Rob Thomas so I decided to give the show a shot, and I absolutely love it.
I tell you what, that Rob Thomas is something special, isn’t he?
He really is.
The writers are really doing alright by us because the writing has really only gotten better in the second season. They just keep delivering really good scripts.
I can’t wait to see them! Can you tell me a little bit about your first impressions of Major?
Well, the first thing about the character, I mean obviously he was, especially in the pilot, very charming and very sweet. I mean, literally in the action text, before he starts speaking, it’s during the scene where it’s kind of like the intervention scene with Liv. We’re all gathered in her apartment, that was my audition scene. Literally in the action text, before Major starts speaking, in parentheses, it says “charming as hell.” (laughs). So, as an actor, it was like “oh, okay, no pressure, I just need to be whatever people consider charming as hell.” He was very sweet and caring and loving and just this great guy, but what I loved was that he was really funny. The banter they had between the two of them actually made me laugh. And I had a distinct voice, which in a pilot doesn’t happen all the time, you know? Because the pilot of a show is still really figuring itself out.
I remember getting the script for episode 2 last year and reading it with Rose [McIver] and we were sitting there saying “It’s amazing, they’ve already nailed our voices.” With Major, as well as with all of the characters, he really had this big voice that I related to. In a lot of ways he was the guy that I hope I would be when a bad situation occurs.
Right. First of all, I will tell you that you nailed the charming thing, so I wouldn’t worry about that too much.
[laughs] Aaaand you’re my favorite!
Ha! You’re my favorite, too. So, as the first season evolved there was a depth to Major that we didn’t necessarily see in the beginning. Do you remember a specific script or scene where you realized that there was more to this guy?
Yeah, at Comic Con Rob Thomas had pulled me aside and said, “Can I pitch you this idea I have for Major?” He presented the whole kind of “Taxi Driver” downward spiral storyline and just how dark it was, which I flipped over. I loved the idea, because, frankly, I think a perfect character is a boring character. I don’t want to watch someone who’s always doing the right thing. I wanna play the struggle, that’s way more interesting to me. I remember probably about the third episode of the first season noticing, oh Major doesn’t have a whole lot going on. It was actually Rahul who plays Ravi who said “well they’re creating a new lane for Major, he’s no longer only the love interest. They have to give him time to branch into his own life.” And that was kind of the moment where you started to see his workplace stuff, he didn’t just exist in relation to Liv, there was all this other stuff in his life. It just so happens that it all turned tragic.
Let’s talk a little bit about this season. Last year, it seemed that Major looked at things in terms of black and white – this is right, this is wrong. Now we see him being sucked into this arrangement where obviously he’s being forced to do things he doesn’t want to do. Do you think this shift in perspective is going to help him on his journey to forgive Liv?
Wow. That’s a really good question. In my opinion, the way I sort of view it is that it’s not so much him being forced to exist in these gray areas, where his life is usually pretty black and white. I think it’s where because of how much he loves her, it’s more a function of time. You know? It’s like he has to go through an angry period, and rightfully so. I think it has to pass. Getting into the things that I’m going to be going through this season, yeah some of those experiences are going to help him appreciate Liv’s position a little better and aid him with that process.
For me as a viewer, and I think for a lot of people, one of my favorite parts of the show is your relationship wtih Ravi.
Thanks, that’s awesome!
Can we expect more from that relationship in season 2?
Yes. Yeah. The whole “Rajor” thing cause that’s what they’re called, it’s funny, Rob and Diane are always so many steps ahead of us. I think that for the most part, it was a product of them seeing that Rahul [Kohli] and I became very close friends very fast. We’re geeks. We both game. We both read comics. They would hear stories about how we lived in buildings a block away from each other last season and one night at like 4 in the morning we were like “Ok, you go to your window, and I’ll go on my window, and at 4 am flash your phone and we’ll see if we can see each other.” So we’re basically 8 years old at heart. The writers thought it was hilarious, so that’s how the whole gaming thing came in, how we bonded. So yeah, I think they saw a lot of that happening in real life and we haven’t matured at all. (laughs). So I think it’s safe to say there’s plenty lot more of that off the show and on the show.
Do you have a favorite scene that you’ve filmed so far (that you’re allowed to talk to us about)?
From last year, it would for sure be the Meat Cute shoot out. Because I’m a giant man-child, as soon as I read that I got to shoot guns and actually have a cool action sequence. And not to mention that Major had the most epically horrible couple of months, so I think it was great just to see him finally get some comeuppance. It was short-lived, but personally it was my favorite scene without a doubt.
What can you tell us about Major’s arc in season 2?
It’s funny. Actually, I wanna say it was you guys. I think it was your twitter that after the first episode you guys went and said the best way to recap an episode is to go check tumblr.
Yeah! That was us.
Yeah, so I read that article and it was funny, you said people were calling Major their “reckless son,” which I shared with the writers and they thought that was amazing. You said one of the things that was really common was that people felt very protective of Major and didn’t like to see him struggling. I think it’s safe to say that those people who are protective of Major and want to see only good things for him…they’re going to have a tough time this season. Unfortunately, our reckless son isn’t quite out of the woods yet. (laughs). He really kind finds himself between a rock and a hard place this season. It’s not going to be smooth sailing for Major.
That’s disappointing, but not altogether surprising.
It’s going to be a very interesting, new side of Major. It’s not the same situation he was in last year where it was black and white. It’s not a clear-cut, these people are evil. I think he’s going to find himself in a really challenging spot in terms of what he has to do. When you see people in situations like that it really does reveal their true character. So people are really going to see new aspects of him and they’re gonna have to see how they feel about him.
Yeah. It’ll be interesting. It’s nice because I think you already have the fans on your side. So it’ll be interesting to see, as Major makes different choices, if their alliances shift.
Thank you so much for taking the time to chat. I love the show so much. We were actually just talking about iZombie on the podcast I host and we discussed the fact that because the show has such an aspect of fantasy, it’s the relationships that keep the show relatable.
It’s funny you say that. It’s actually a really good point. This was a very difficult show to talk about before. Like last year, when we were doing press, this was a really challenging show. Because it’s really hard, there’s no…you know how media wants context. So it’s very difficult…we started calling it a zom-com-rom-dram, there’s so many different aspects to it.
But it’s true, it kind of is the relationships between the characters that help ground it, because of course, you look at the broad stroke elements of the show it’s wildly fantastical. You weave anything that would be totally unrelatable with the interpersonal and make it something you can connect to.