As the new season of iZombie streams on Stan, British actor Rahul Kohli gets gutsy with Gizmodo.
Every good zombie needs a wing man and ever since Rose McIver's sleuthing zombie Olivia "Liv" Moore first licked her lips and chomped down on a fresh juicy brain, one man has stood by her side, through sickness and not particularly good health.
Liv's knight in shining scrubs is Dr Ravi Chakrabarti, played by British Star Wars obsessive and gaming nut Rahul Kohli. The crime fighting duo formed their unlikely alliance when Liv, in a desperate move to sate her craving for grey matter, took up a position at a morgue to get easy access to fresh cadavers. This is where she met the good doctor.
At first fascinated by Liv's carnivorous condition on a professional level, the pair develop a firm friendship that forms the emotional core of iZombie, especially when Liv has flashbacks and visions from the previous owners of the brains she has eaten.
Now with Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas's bloody funny adaptation of the DC Comics' imprint Vertigo comicbook reaching Season 4, things are taking a serious turn. At the end of Season 3 Seattle became a prison for the flesh-eating masses. The hoards contained within the confines of a giant wall. The political parallels with the real world are all too obvious.
The searing rhetoric recalling the ground-breaking horrors of zombie Godfather George A Romero’s Night Of the Living Dead and Dawn Of The Dead. Something not lost on the Brit when he spoke with Gizmodo about the new season.
"Absolutely!" exclaims the actor. "Night Of The living Dead was just as much social commentary as a horror film and it's definitely one of the reasons why we were so excited to do Season 4."
"The show is known for dropping pop culture references so when you watch it in 2014, there are 2014 references. When we did Season 2, I think The Force Awakens was out so you hear Kylo Ren references. That's the kind of show this is. We comment on what's happening while we're filming, and iZombie Season 4 very much reflects what's been happening in America for the last few years."
"At the end of the day, this is art, and art is supposed to provoke. Nobody just wants us to slap a political message onto the show. Nobody asked for that. iZombie isn't a show that’s going to change the world. We're not trying to align ourselves with any particular political party or ideology but at the same time there is definitely a commentary that raises questions and reflects upon the times."
"And it’s done in a very classy way," laughs the actor. "Even for a zombie show!"
Being a zombie show, and playing a doctor, Kholi was always going to get his hands bloody while filming. Something that the actor was well and truly prepared for.
"I'm too comfortable with it, man!" he laughs. "They can bring in decapitated heads and I'm fine with it. I decided to desensitise myself before we filmed the iZombie pilot. I watched autopsy videos; a lot of them, real ones and I studied case files of murders and crimes where the pathologist solved the crime, not the detectives. I have seen a lot of gruesome photos."
"When I arrived on set and saw lots of fake blood and prosthetic arms it didn’t gross me out. And that was the intention, to be comfortable with it all."
Another hurdle to overcome when it came to the gory stuff was the actors dislike of the horror genre.
"I'm not a fan!" he exclaims. "I'm a bit of a scaredy cat. I've always shied away from horror. I don't particularly like being frightened, I don’t find that fun. I do like thrillers, I like being scared. But I don't like jump scares."
"Actually, more than anything, even more than being an actor, I'm a gamer. I've been gaming since I was three years old! So that's one thing that has always disappointed me is that I can't stomach the horror games. I played Resident Evil and tried to play Silent Hill but it's always reluctantly. I play every genre of video game except horror!"
At the end of Season 3, his character was testing out the zombie vaccine on himself. Potentially not a smart move but we can expect big things from Ravi this season.
"Yeah, he’s got a busy year ahead. He guinea pigged himself and we get a very definite answer to that test result in the first episode. I can't reveal much more than that as we want to keep it fresh for the fans - And Rob would beat me up – but Ravi is in the thick of it. It's the busiest I've had in a long time. It's very Ravi heavy," smiles Kohli.
And Ravi wouldn't be Ravi without Liv. Something that Kohli is all too aware of as he talks about his lead actress.
"She's my best mate, we clicked real fast. I think everyone else on the show is American whereas Rose is a Kiwi and I'm obviously a Brit. Almost immediately there was a kinship. We both have a love of Ricky Gervais so we constantly quote The Office and Karl Pilkington. We had that connection almost immediately."
"In the show the characters have a big love and affection for one another. She's like my little sister. She's brutal with me in a way she isn’t with the other cast members. I'm definitely her punching bag and the butt of her jokes but she's also my biggest supporter. She's actually exactly the same as my little sister in London. We play the same roles to a tee."
"I couldn't imagine playing this role with anyone else," he smiles. "She's awesome."