Rahul Kohli on iZombie Season 2, a musical episode, and #RaJor

iZombie, RAHUL KOHLI
The CW

The fantastic first season of iZombie ended with June 9th’s “Blaine’s World” and we’ve been in brains-withdrawal ever since! Luckily, we were able to catch up with iZombie‘s resident “tall doctor with fantastic hair and a British accent” Rahul Kohli (Dr. Ravi Chakrabarti) to chat about season 2, the show’s Buffy resonances, and the thought of a musical episode in the show’s future.

The TV Junkies: Did you always want to be an actor? Growing up, was it always your goal?

Rahul Kohli: I’ve always had an interest in films and games and comic books. But it was actually because of Star Wars. I saw Star Wars when I was a kid, and I had made this decision that I wanted to be part of that—whatever that was, y’know? [laughs] I, at one point, was thinking about special effects, I kind of went through the motions. And then in my teens, I kind of just decided: I think I can act. I just had this feeling. And I dropped out of college and I just went up to drama school, and auditioned there and I got in. And that’s it, pretty much, that’s kinda how it all sort of came about.

TTVJ: And this [iZombie] was one of your first shows, right?

RK: I’d had other roles, but they were more like one or two lines of dialogue. This was my first legit role, I guess.

TTVJ: There has been talk about the similar vibes between iZombie and the Joss Whedon show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Are you familiar with that show, personally?

RK: I remember watching the first season or two [of Buffy], when it was on television but I didn’t complete the entire thing.

TTVJ: In general, I was wondering what you think about the similarities that people are picking up on between the two shows? How would you characterize the similar vibes people are noticing?

RK: Actually, recently, I was on YouTube and decided to watch TV intros, and just the way [Buffy] kicks off, just the TV credits alone tell you what Buffy is going to be like. It’s fun, it’s gonna be kick-ass, it’s aimed at teenagers. You could identify what the characters were about, just from their introductions –you knew Giles was the smart one, y’know what I mean? Already, just from when iZombie starts, from the intro, it already gives you a hint as to what the show’s going to be about. It’s not going to take itself too seriously—The Walking Dead wouldn’t start how we start. You get an idea for all of the characters, a bit of the backstory, and you know that it’s gonna be fun and it’s gonna be kick-ass, and I think those are the two qualities they [iZombie and Buffy] share. And I think Buffy was very charming. Sarah Michelle Gellar was an incredible lead, she was fascinating to watch. I think Rose McIver [iZombie‘s Liv] is the same, I think the show just wouldn’t work with a different actress.

TTVJ: I totally agree with that, Rose is pretty incredible in the role. I’m always particularly amazed with how well she’s able to embody those different personas week to week—how she manages to integrate them with Liv’s core personality.

RK: From week to week, I’m just worrying about playing Ravi. [laughs] And every week they just throw her a curve ball—“Oh hey, can you play a stoner? Can you play a cheerleader? Oh, can you speak Russian?” Yeah, it’s insane, but it’s awesome as well– working with that kind of premise. It’s great even for the actors that don’t have to eat brains, because every week we have almost a new character to play off.

TTVJ: I was actually wondering about that, too– of all the brains she’s eaten so far, which was your favourite to play off of?

RK: I did love the gamer brain just because that’s my hobby. But it’s got to be Episode 12 where she ate a cheerleader brain and then a stoner brain. I thought it was her strongest performance of the season. And it was interesting to watch her play two completely different personalities in the space of forty minutes. One minute she’s playing this preppy cheerleader, the next she’s this low-energy stoner. And then when she realizes that she’s unable to motivate herself to do the case, she has to take cheerleader brains again. I really liked how they did that. And Rose was so funny as the cheerleader, and hilarious as the stoner. So, I got to play the straight man, and that was fun.

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TTVJ: The fan response to the Ravi/Major bromance has been incredible. I don’t know if you guys were anticipating that kind of response when you were filming. I’ve read that a lot of the relationship developed based on your and Robert Buckley’s real-life friendship, is that right?

RK: It’s been insane, it really has. [laughs] Now that we’ve seen the full season, we don’t really have a hell of a lot of scenes together. Y’know, it’s once and a while, but they seem to have made a bit of an impact and it’s a really weird thing. I guess maybe–I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s because people feel like it’s genuine? And obviously during filming [Robert] Buckley and I are doing the exact same things that Ravi and Major are doing– we’re playing video games, watching films, going to the comic shop. Yeah… it’s been the strangest thing, I just didn’t see that coming at all. I didn’t think we’d have a ‘ship name, I didn’t think we’d be a hashtag…

TTVJ: #RaJor! It’s all over Twitter.

RK: We kind of play up to it a little bit. I just recently saw a picture—a drawing of Ravi, like, making out with Major and, y’know, you just tweet it out, hashtag RaJor. It’s a fun bromance.

TTVJ: Speaking of pairings–any idea what’s going on with Peyton and with the Ravi/Peyton ‘ship? It was kind of left up in the air at the end of this season.

RK: Well, we haven’t started filming [Season 2]. We don’t start filming until July or August. Haven’t actually had that conversation yet with [showrunners] Rob [Thomas] and Diane [Ruggiero-Wright] about Peyton. It’s still up in the air, and I’m sure there will be some form of resolution. I thought it worked, it was a nice relationship. We didn’t get to see a lot of it, unfortunately. That’s because it was kind of introduced towards the finale—would you rather see Major going on a zombie hunt or just Ravi and Peyton, like, hanging out, making out? So it kind of took a backseat to everything. But yeah, I have no idea honestly [where’s it’s going].

TTVJ: Also on the subject of anticipating season two, if you know anything about this yet–do you think we’ll see any more of Ravi’s backstory, his personal history, in the second season? We don’t know a whole lot about his history right now. Would you want to explore that?

RK: Again, haven’t had those conversations yet. The only conversation we’ve had, I think it was with Diane (and this was just as a fan), I mentioned that I wanted to see more Clive backstory. But Ravi? I don’t know. OK, this is a weird one, I think I’ve said this in interviews before: I sometimes really enjoy, when you just get a character as they are, and that’s it. You don’t know their origin, you just accept them for who they are. Sometimes [too much backstory] can make a character weaker. You know, like with Darth Vader. When he walks in in Episode 4 and you’re like oh my god, this guy is the most evil badass in the world. And then you learn too much about his backstory and he’s a nine-year-old podracer. I always think there should be a balance between learning a little bit more about a character without weakening them.

I mean, I trust the writers implicitly, they’re incredible writers and very intelligent. If they wanted more Ravi backstory, hey, okay, great. Season one has been such a dream for me. I was so lucky to have this character and so lucky to get the response this character has gotten from the fandom, and from Twitter, and from the critics… I would happily just repeat season one, all over again, for another year if I could. I just don’t have any kind of demands, I’m happy exactly where I am to play the exact same character.

TTVJ: If you could have any sort of crossover with any show on The CW, what would it be?

RK: Well, I’m supposed to watch The 100, because one of the cast, Lindsey [Morgan] from The 100, is a good friend of mine. And we’ve had conversations where she hasn’t watched iZombie and I haven’t watch The 100, and we made a pact that we would do that. The Flash, I’ve seen a handful of episodes. I haven’t binge-watched anything from The CW just yet. Mainly because when you’re out [in Vancouver] and filming a TV show, the last thing you want to do is go watch a TV show, so I’ve been kind of catching up since I’ve been here. If I had a crossover with a CW show… good question. Maybe Whose Line is it Anyway? Rob Buckley is a very witty person, as is Rose McIver, as is Rob Thomas—I think we would kill it on Whose Line is it Anyway? That’s a CW show, right? Or is that a cop-out?

TTVJ: There has also been talk of a musical episode in the future. Would you be up for something like that? And what would Ravi sing?

RK: Uh… I hate musicals, I’m so sorry. It’s just a pet peeve of mine, since I was a kid. My sister was a really good actress, and she used to do a ton of musicals and every day at the piano in my house, her singing… I just ended up loathing musicals because of my sister. So if we do a musical episode, I’m hoping Ravi is like…

TTVJ: On vacation? On sabbatical?

RK: Right. David Anders is an incredible singer, he’s been Off-Broadway and stuff like that. He’ll kill it, Rose will kill it. Malcolm–I’ve been to karaoke with Malcolm, he can hold a tune. They’re great; I’m terrible, and I will definitely hope that Ravi is off somewhere.

TTVJ: Any last thoughts to leave our readers with? Any ideas how we can all get by without iZombie for the next three months?

RK: Well, we’ve got reruns. We start filming [Season 2] soon, in July or August. And we have a good Twitter presence, so if you want to see photos from the set and us mucking around, or our crazy vibes, or me and Buckley playing video games … follow us on Twitter and watch us make a TV show.

 

iZombie will return for season 2 on Tuesday, October 6th at 9 p.m. ET on The CW and is available on Shomi in Canada.