The CW s iZombie, now in its fifth and final season, proved to be the little comic book TV show that could.Based on the DC/Vertigo comic by Chris Roberson and Mike Allred, it tells the tale of Liv Moore (Rose McIver), a medical resident who ends up becoming a zombie at a party. But unlike the typical walking dead of other movies, TV shows, and comics, Liv can keep her wits about her thanks to a steady diet of brains, whose personalities and memories she absorbs. Abandoning her old life — and ditching all-American heartthrob fiance Major Lilywhite (Robert Buckley) in the process — she realized her affliction could be an asset. After getting a job at the county morgue to feed her new brain habit, she and her boss, Ravi Chakrabarti (Rahul Kohli), team up with Seattle police officer Clive Babineaux (Malcolm Goodwin) to solve murders by eating the brains of victims and accessing their memories to find out who killed them.The show grew from there with an ongoing arc about the origin of the zombie virus and, eventually, the world learning of their existence. By renewing the series for a fifth and final season, The CW allowed executive producer Rob Thomas the chance to wrap up Liv’s story and reveal the fate of New Seattle.(Photo by Michael Courtney/The CW)When Rotten Tomatoes visited the set of iZombie last November, co-star Robert Buckley joked that he had not heard the series was coming to an end.“This day keeps getting worse and worse,” he quipped. At the same time, his joke was somewhat based in truth: “This is the first year where I haven t asked ahead for what s going on. In previous seasons, the writing staff clued him in on their plans for Major, who was eventually also turned into a zombie. This time around, he (and star McIver, too) wanted to be in the dark and enjoy the suspense as the series built to its ultimate ending.“I don t know how it ends. I don t know if we re going to leave the door cracked [for a revival],” Buckley said.Although the ending was still unknown to both actors at the time of our interview, which took place in the middle of season 5 s filming schedule, McIver said she hoped Liv and Major were finally able commit to one other — at least in a more permanent fashion than the way the show has toyed with reuniting the couple in the past.“I think most romances — most relationships that I ever seek to believe in — have some sort of chaos that have led into them,” McIver said. “I think it makes you know each other that much better. You ve been friends as well. The kind of fairy tale illusion is shed, and that s good, because I think you don t really know somebody when you think that they re perfect.”Buckley recalled talking to Thomas about Major and Liv’s rapport before they shot the pilot. At the time, the executive producer compared them to Sam (Ted Danson) and Diane (Shelly Long) from Cheers, a.k.a. one of TV s all-time great “will they or won’t they?” couples. When he pressed his boss further about getting the two characters together for real, Buckley recalled Thomas saying that perhaps the two would finally make a go for it somewhere down the line, like in season 5.(Photo by Michael Courtney/The CW)Of course, romance is never an easy thing for the two characters, particularly in light of the insane obstacles they ve faced over the last several years. In season 4, Major killed Chase Graves (Jason Dohring) to save Liv s life, and ascended to the head of the Filmore-Graves private military corporation. With him as the new commander and Liv continuing on as Renegade, the two make an uneasy alliance to ensure brain matter continues to flow into New Seattle and prevent a zombie holocaust. And though it might be McIver’s wish to see them together, Liv and Major still have plenty to work through.“We ve forgiven each other, but you don t forget all of the difficulty that you ve gotten through,” she said. “So it s not like, ‘Oh he s straight back in, best friends, everything s smooth.’ It s a very complicated thing.”Beyond the characters personal issues, though, both have a keen interest in keeping the U.S. government from nuking New Seattle and its zombie population off the map.“We both want what s best for the people around us and the people we love,” McIver said. “I wouldn t say we ve banded together at every turn, but there s a definite respect for the way that we re handling it and the information that s shared between us.”Buckley agreed with that assessment.“We re both just trying to protect people and champion justice and all that, but we both found ourselves beginning on different paths and we ve just stayed on them,” he said, adding, “I think our common goal is the same.” He also added that the death of Chase will allow Major to be less rigid. “I think Major was being a good soldier in some of that, which was a bit extreme. [Now] there s a bit more flexibility.”(Photo by Bettina Strauss/The CW)The situation in New Seattle as season 5 begins is intense, but McIver promised the show will still find the funny.“[The] stakes are really high. The humor, though, is still really high, which I think is great,” she said. And despite Liv holding onto her role as Renegade and smuggling people into New Seattle, she will still have time to help Clive with cases.“I feel like I m pulling out all the stops,” she said of Liv’s transitions into other people’s personas this season, one of which she teased as “Salsa Brain.”“You re not metering yourself anymore. You re not playing this long game If we ve got ideas, [we] use them,” she continued. “If we have things that we haven t played with the other characters we re using them now. It s been pretty full-on, like, full gung-ho.”While being a zombie is a now an important facet of Liv s existence, there is always the possibility that the cure Ravi discovered in Isobel’s (Izabela Vidovic) brain could lead to a new way of life for the New Seattle zombies. But McIver is ambivalent about using the cure to offer Liv and Major a human ending.“It doesn t serve all of our metaphors,” she said.On the show, zombies symbolize “minorities or people who ve been marginalized” and offering a widespread cure would suggest that marginalization is like a disease to be eliminated and not a condition to be understood.(Photo by Jordon Nuttall/The CW)“I think it s great for the zombies to still be able to exist,” McIver said. “At this point, I feel like [it s] similar about humans eating meat. It would be great if an alternative came that was grown. You know how they re trying to make fake meat? An equivalent of that would be a really good thing, I feel like, for zombies — a fake brain compound.”Buckley said he would prefer for Major to remain a zombie as well.“I think when he became a zombie it sort of gave him a sense of purpose again in advocating for the less fortunate,” he explained. “Leave him in the minority and have him be their champion.”The two actors both reiterated that these are merely their hopes for the conclusion, as neither had seen the finale script. Nonetheless, it seemed McIver may not be ready to let Liv go. While McIver wore a wig while playing the character, she mentioned that she had recently dyed her hair blonde and cut it short, her character s trademark look. I didn t look anything like Liv the whole time I shot, she said. Now I m, like, clearly finding it hard to say goodbye.”iZombie airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.
(Photo by Ben Mark Holzberg/HBO Max)“I had mixed feelings when I first got the script,” Walters said when Rotten Tomatoes caught up with the actor. “But ultimately, I feel like he had no other option. I think he was hoping for a reunion and for things to be fixed. Obviously, that s where you go, family.”Showrunner Greg Walker told us it was the natural progression from Jason’s split with the team at the end of season 2.“It made sense to me emotionally,” he said. “The persona of Robin, in that supersuit in that role, is really the thing that saves Jason — and always has — and has kept them off the streets. He s had a very rough life, and he s somebody who struggled, so it means a lot to him to be Robin.”Indeed, in at least in some comic book stories, Batman chose to take Jason in for fear that the kid who tried to steal the hubcaps off the Batmobile would grow to be a foe.“[Jason] cares a lot about it, and he s good at it, so it made sense to go back to Bruce,” Walker continued. “It s one thing to go home, but it s another thing to actually deal with your troubles and your problems.”(Photo by Ben Mark Holzberg/HBO Max)Created in 1983 as a permanent replacement for Dick Grayson, who assumed the identity of Nightwing around the same time, Jason was initially well-received. In the reboot aftermath of Crisis on Infinite Earths, though, a bratty streak developed in the character which upset fans of Batman and Detective Comics. Famously, readers voted to end Jason’s life via a 1-800 number in 1988; although some accounts suggest Jason would’ve died no matter the results of the phone poll. Nearly 20 years later, he was revived via absurd comic book means and came to represent a compelling concept: the person Batman failed the most during his crusade against crime. It is an idea Titans intends to play with.Of course, Jason sees it in a different way as Walters told us “Jason feels like he was ultimately a mistake to Bruce.”We’d argue the character’s perception is yet another of the Batman s mistakes.(Photo by Ben Mark Holzberg/HBO Max)According to Walker, taking a harder look at Bruce’s (Iain Glen) choices and mistakes is a key element of the show, going back to Dick’s (Brenton Thwaites, pictured) infamous “F Batman” moment.“It s one of the reasons that we see Dick struggling in the pilot, he s a guy who can t quite figure out how to deal with this pain and struggle that he has based on the trauma that started off his life with Bruce,” Walker said.And though that initial trauma was not Batman s fault, he certainly didn t help Dick cope with it. So is failure a fair appraisal of Bruce’s parenting skills?“Not necessarily,” said Walters, who indicated Jason’s traumas before meeting Batman are still present and only compound the issues we will see in season 3. “I think [Bruce] parents the way that he knows to parent, which is based on his dealing with trauma. But his way of dealing with trauma is not right for everyone. So therein lays the challenge of his parenting: to see if he can grow and see where his pitfalls and failures are, and understand people in a different light other than through his own prism.”And Jason’s key decision in season 3 will definitely speak to that. Fans of Batman comics know what comes next for the character, but we’ll leave it as a surprise for new viewers.Of those upcoming events, though, Walters said “I think that whole story arc was inevitable. It was something you had to do. So, I m really glad we got to explore that this season. I think his destiny is unavoidable.”(Photo by Ben Mark Holzberg/HBO Max)But Titans is a large ensemble show, and Jason’s story is also an anchor for the rest of the team as they move from San Francisco to Gotham and encounter people like Commissioner Barbara Gordon (Savannah Welch, pictured) – a version inspired by her comic book counterpart s years as a paraplegic (from 1988 until the universe-wide reboot in 2011) and her role in the Batman Beyond animated series.“She s such an interesting character in many ways,” Walker said. “By putting her in a position of conflict rather than on the Titans, [it] made her more an interesting character for us and a stronger character for us.”He also added that as the show will always pivot around Dick’s choices, Barbara adds a new perspective on him – only Donna Troy (Conor Leslie) knows him better – and that it will lead to an interesting dynamic in its own right.(Photo by Ben Mark Holzberg/HBO Max)The move to Gotham will also put Gar Logan (Ryan Potter) in an interesting position for growth.“This teen has been through a lot in two seasons, he’s seen a lot, and grown from a guy who was hanging out at a mansion with the Doom Patrol [and had] a sheltered experience,” Walker said. “He s seen people die, he s seen trouble. He s seen a family that he deeply cares about get challenged and tested. So I think it s a natural outgrowth of where you go as a person or you deal with it like a lot of us deal with trauma by not dealing with it. But he has stepped up as someone who now will fight for what he cares for.” It is a change in his persona which pleasantly sneaks up on the viewer across the first few episodes.(Photo by HBO Max)It is also a good thing he’s stepping up as the most leader-like member of the team, Kory (Anna Diop, pictured below) will also preoccupied by a family matter: her sister Komand r (Damaris Lewis, pictured above) – aka Blackfire – has arrived on Earth.According to Walker, introducing Blackfire serves multiple purposes beyond showcasing Lewis’s talents. The character also offers the show a chance to get into the situation on Kory’s homeworld while remaining on budget-friendly Earth.“[She] brings back that experience from another planet, which sheds light into Kory s origin; it was super important for us to tell that story,” he said.(Photo by Ben Mark Holzberg/HBO Max)In a departure from most of Kory’s comic book adventures, the Titans version arrived on the scene with amnesia and never fully recovered.“She has to figure out over the course of [these] three seasons what she is, why she was sent on this mission, and what really matters to her,” he explained. But even beyond Kory’s personal journey, Blackfire’s appearance serves another of the show’s themes. “So much about this season, especially after the pandemic and after the way the world was changing, we wanted to address power structures, and the myths behind them, and poke at them.”It is part of the reason Batman continues to get a critical thrashing within the show and why the GCPD may not be entirely clean even under Barbara’s direction.“If we re going to do that to the GCPD and the role of superheroes in Gotham, it had to also be done to the power structure on her home planet [Tamaran], Walker continued. How is [Blackfire] in a position of power and how is her sister not? What stories do people tell in order to ensure that they can keep that power?(Photo by HBO Max)As a whole, Titans seems to revel in shattering more innocent, Silver Age conceptions of the Teen Titans with a deeper psychological grounding. Walker credited The New Teen Titans by Marv Wolfman and George Perez, with its own well-rounded depictions of characters like Dick and Donna, as the inspiration for Titans’s tendency to delve further into the group’s psychology.“What I found so striking about reading those books is that the characters are asking hard questions … They weren t built to sit down and navel gaze, but there was an edge and a probing quality to the writing that we ran with,” he said.But does it all that probing into the characters mean Jason is doomed? “He does something that is very hard to come back from,” Walters said. “So ultimately, it s a fight within himself [and] whether the Titans can forgive him or not for what he has done.” Time will tell, of course, if Jason will be able to redeem himself or if another will take flight as Robin.Titans season 3 launches with its first three episodes on Thursday, August 12, on HBO Max.On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.
(Photo by @ Twentieth Century Fox)With the 91st Academy Awards around the corner, we ve been wondering whether first-time nominees or veterans who’ve already won an Oscar – or been nominated – have a better chance of winning. With only four of the 20 nominated actors walking away with an Oscar on Sunday, we wanted to know how the five former winners, six prior nominees, and nine first-time nominees who make up the group of 20 will fair – according to Oscar trends. And so we dove into the data to see if there were any patterns suggesting that vets are favored over newcomers, and vice versa, and applied that to this year s nominees. To keep the data current, we decided to focus on recent nominees and winners, beginning with the 73rd Academy Awards in 2001. What we found could be crucial info when filling out your Oscar ballot.(We did go a little further, analyzing the four Academy Award acting categories going back to 1929 and discovered that 1,700 nominations have gone out to only 928 actors. Further, 364 Academy Awards have been won by just 298 actors. Multiple awards have been won by 41 actors, and 257 have only won once. That seems to tell us that, historically, the awards favor first-time winners and it’s more difficult to be a repeat winner with so much competition.)Here are some key takeaways about the 72 Acting Oscars awarded and the 360 nominations since the 73rd Academy Awards in 2001.36 Oscars have been won by actors who’d already won an Oscar or been nominated36 Oscars have been won by first-time nominees218 nominations have been given to prior winners or nominees142 nominations have been given to first-time nominees4 Actors have won multiple Oscars between 2001-2018: Cate Blanchett (2005, 2014), Sean Penn (2004, 2009), Daniel Day-Lewis (2008, 2013), Christoph Waltz (2010, 2013)5 Actors who won Oscars prior to 2001, won their second or third Oscars since 2001: Meryl Streep (1980, 1983, 2012), Denzel Washington (1990, 2002), Hilary Swank (2000, 2005), Frances McDormand (1997, 2018), Daniel Day-Lewis (1990, 2008, 2013)68 Actors have won OscarsSo what does this data tell us about who might win this year?Best Actress: Veteran Nominees – if not winners – Dominate(Photo by @ Warner Bros. )Nominees since 2001: 26 prior Oscars winners, 30 prior nominees (with no wins), and 34 first-time nominees.Winners since 2001: 4 Oscar winners, 8 prior nominees, and 6 first-time nominees.Nominated in 2019: 2 prior nominees (with no wins), and 3 first-time nominees.Glenn Close: The Wife – 6 prior nominations for The World According to Garp (1982), The Big Chill (1983), The Natural (1984), Fatal Attraction (1984), Dangerous Liaisons (1988), Albert Nobbs (2011)Melissa McCarthy: Can You Ever Forgive Me? – 1 prior nomination for Bridesmaids (2011)Lady Gaga: A Star is Born – No prior nominationsYalitza Aparicio: Roma – No prior nominationsOlivia Colman: The Favourite – No prior nominationsBased on recent trends, the advantage in this category goes to seven-time nominee Glenn Close (The Wife) and the twice-nominated Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?). Why? Seven of the last eight winning actresses had been nominated at least twice before winning, and prior nominees in the Best Actress category have the best chance to win (8 winners out of 30 nominations, or 26.6%) among the four acting categories. Also, no Oscar-winning actresses were nominated in 2019; in years when no Oscar winners were nominated (2003, 2008), the Oscar has gone to actresses with prior nominations.Another factor is that since 1927, only Shirley Booth (Come Back, Little Sheba), Julie Andrews (Mary Poppins), Barbra Streisand (Funny Girl), and Marlee Matlin (Children of a Lesser God) have won a Best Actress Oscar for their first starring roles. This hurts the odds of Lady Gaga (A Star is Born) and Yalitza Aparicio (Roma) winning because of their newcomer status.Who has the advantage? We’re guessing the seven-time nominated Glenn Close will follow in the footsteps of Julia Roberts, Helen Mirren, Kate Winslet, and Julianne Moore who had at least three nominations and zero wins when they picked up their Oscars.Best Actor: The Odds Are Split, But It Helps to Play a Real-Life Character(Photo by @ 20th Century Fox)Nominees since 2001: 24 prior Oscars winners, 34 prior nominees (with no wins), and 32 first-time nominees.Winners since 2001: 3 Oscar winners, 8 prior nominees, and 7 first-time nominees.Nominated in 2019: 1 Oscar Winner, 3 prior nominees (with no wins), and 1 first-time nominee.Christian Bale: Vice – 1 Oscar win for The Fighter (2011) and two nominations for American Hustle (2014), and The Big Short (2016)Bradley Cooper: A Star is Born – 3 prior nominations for Silver Linings Playbook (2013), American Hustle (2014), and American Sniper (2015)Willem Dafoe: At Eternity’s Gate – 3 prior nominations for Platoon (1987), Shadow of the Vampire (2001), and The Florida Project (2018)Viggo Mortensen: Green Book – 2 prior nominations for Eastern