Rahul Kohli on the End of iZombie, His Uncertain Future, and Doctor Who Aspirations

With the end of iZombie last night, probably no single performer was more directly impacted than [...]

With the end of iZombie last night, probably no single performer was more directly impacted than Rahul Kohli. The breakout fan-favorite of iZombie, Kohli came to the U.S. to take this on as his first major role on TV. He has gone on to become a prominent figure with DC fans, participating in DC Universe and DC All Access promotional events as well as taking on voice-acting roles in Gears of War and Harley Quinn. With the end of the series, Kohli is looking to reinvent himself, exploring the uncertain world of acting after your first big role.

Kohli joined ComicBook.com for a frank discussion of the series, his feelings on never seeing Dr. Ravi Chakrabarti again, and of course, what's next for him. Among other things, he talked about why his old standby fantasy role of Batman no longer comes up in conversation, and why he is biding his time to give Doctor Who a shot.

In the last few episodes of this season, a big part of Ravi's motivation is trying to save the Freylich kids. That, to me, feels like it mirrors Major's big failure in season one. Was that intentional?

That's the first time I've ever seen that parallel. I don't know if that was intentional or not, or if that was supposed to mirror or redeem what Major went through and his failure to save his kids. All I know is, Diane wanted me and Rose to do eight brains each or something. She wanted to do a heist episode and wanted us to do as many brains as possible, and by the time we got to the shooting draft, it became smaller and smaller and it was only about two or three brains apiece. But I think we did that becuase it's like, "This is the last time we're ever gonna do this show. What's next? What do you want to see?"

You've been playing the same character for five years, living in Vancouver and cloistered away from the rest of the world. What was the emotional feeling of wrapping the show?

Mixed emotions, I think. iZombie represents a lot for me. It's my first real job. It's opened a lot of doors for me. I mean, without iZombie, I wouldn't be in Gears of War or Harley Quinn or Supergirl. I wouldn't be able to do the things I've been able to do. I genuinely believe that had iZombie hadn't come around, I'd probably be in the same situation I was five years ago, which is scrambling for a line on a TV show. So, in that respect, it was bittersweet to say goodbye to something that's been so good to me.

Also, you forget sometimes -- because you see posts of us with the others in the cast, and you forget that you're just as close to the show as you were the cast. I probably worked with our crew more than I did some of the main players of the show. I've shared 99% of my scenes with Rose and Malcom -- obviously I was really close to them -- but I also shared 99% of my scenes with the Canadian crew for five years. And I knew when I come back to LA, of course I'd be around Malcolm's house the next day, and I'd see Aly or Rose or Bucks or whatever, but the reality of "Oh, no -- I don't know when I'm going to see this crew again," that kind of sucked a little bit.

And then on top of that, I think Ravi is a once-in-a-lifetime character. I think I was very lucky to play him. I don't know if I'll ever get to play a character like that ever again. And saying goodbye to him was really tough. That was harder than anything, I think, because that was definitive. I may work again with Rose and Malcolm and Rob Thomas and everyone. I may meet the crew again, but I doin't think I'll meet Ravi again. And that was tough, but at the same time, I also didn't become an actor to do the same job over and over and over again, you know? I wanted to play different characters, I wanted to do different things, so at the same time, five years felt like a good enough run, before things soured for me, to move on to new projects.

As the show's most visible geek, has it been nice working on a comics project where for once, the fan base doesn't spend the whole time nitpicking and tearing the thing apart?

Yeah, I did notice that. I got a taste of it. I already, in very small doses, found out what it's like to be scrutinized that way on Supergirl, or what it was like to be scrutinized in Gears of War by the gaming community. So it's in hindsight but the five years that we had spent with our fandom were very laid-back and chill. Nobody really made demands. Some people may not like particular episodes or storylines or threads, but for the most part, there was no nastiness. It was a very sweet fan base. It felt like anyone who was overly critical of our show tended to just drop it and leave it rather than stick with it and constantly harass us, so you were just left with real fans. It was a small show; it didn't have a huge cultural impact. It's not Game of Thrones, it's just a small, cult show, and you only tend to really get die-hard supporters, and with that comes love and support. They've been a wonderful fan base for us, and I think they're also the type that will follow us on through other endeavors.

Do you think you'll end up on Rob's next show, considering how much he likes to reuse cast and crew?

Possibly. I have no idea what's up with Rob. We had a lot of Veronica Mars guests on our show, obviously. I would love to work with Rob again; I would work with Rob in a heartbeat and the rest of the Spondoolie crew, but at the same time, you can't sit around waiting for him to have a new project for you. You've got to move on, and if the opportunity ever does arise when Rob wants to reuse one of us, then great, but for our own sakes we have to hit the ground running and not look for a handout.

In your mind, are you looking for roles that are different to Ravi so that you don't get typecast as that dude?

I don't really have a game plan. I have my career goals; I have the things that I want to achieve personally that I don't really share with many people, but in terms of the future for me, I'm just attracted to cool projects. I'd rather have one line in a project I'm really enthusiastic about than be the lead in a show I couldn't give a s--t about. These last six, seven months has been interesting or me. I've had to turn down certain jobs and things because, you know -- I'm unemployed, I'm looking for my next gig, but at the same time, i want to care about something. I'm not just looking for a paycheck. I spent most o my life broke, so I'm not afraid to be out of work. I'm not uncomfortable by it. Right now, I'm just looking for whatever kind of cool projects come my way.

Harley Quinn, the voice acting stuff wasn't something I've ever really trained to do. It's not something I would say I'm particularly gifted at. I am first and foremost a theatre actor and a screen actor and that in itself is a whole new kind of talent. I'm friends with Troy Baker and Nolan North, and that is their craft, and it shows when you've seen them do what they do. For me, if the project's great and people want me on their thing, then I'm happy to do so. Harley Quinn was just an amazing project. The opportunity to play Scarecrow was just something that -- how could I turn it down? That was something that I actively wanted, and also being a gamer, being in video games was something I wanted to do. But being a voice actor, there's no trajectory for me. It's pretty much if it's cool and if it's fun then I'm interested. I'm far more dedicated to and focusing on screen work.

For years, you joked about your endgame being Batman. Not too long ago, I tweeted something about that, and you shot me down. Do you still have those roles in your head that you want to get to?

I think the wonder and amazement has been knocked out of me a little bit. I think early on, I really did feel like I could do whatever I want, you've just got to put your mind to it and there are no limitations to your work or your career. Just through age and maybe growing up slightly, I've become a bit more grounded about that. When I said I wanted to play Batman, push comes to shove, if I really was in the conversation with the powers that be about that, I probably would feel that I'm not right for the role and it was just a child that wants to fulfill a fantasy. In terms of bringing something to that character and actually embodying Bruce Wayne, I don't think I probably am a good fit. I don't think that's the right choice.

I have a very supportive group of followers and fans, and you get into a bit of an echo chamber. You go onto any other actor's Twitter, I'm sure their fans are telling them that they can play James Bond, Bruce Wayne, blah blah blah. It's what fandoms do. They fan cast you in everything. I'm not special. But in the world of what is real and what is possible, I genuinely think that I would love an opportunity to read, or bring an interpretation to the powers that be, for Doctor Who when the time's right. I do think I can probably bring something to that world and to that character. That one does feel slightly...not realistic, but a little bit more obtainable, a little bit more of an educated casting than something as ridiculous as Batman. James Bond falls into that same category; it's ridiculous. I'm tall and I've got a British accent and I'm an actor, so of course that qualifies me as James Bond, but I don't know that's necessarily realistic.

I have seen Mister Fantastic mentioned a lot recently, but again I think what's happened there is that there's a strong support for John Krasinski and Emily Blunt to play those roles. And I think becuase, according to the internet, I bear a vague resemblance to John Krasinski that I get thrown into that, too. "Well, if he can be a person of color then it should be Rahul Kohli." But I don't think, again, that any of these things are possible. Like I said, I've matured a bit with my expectations, what I expect of myself and what I think is possible.

See, now I have to lobby Marc Guggenheim to throw you in Crisis as the so-and-so of Earth-whatever. Or, hell, just Ravi for 30 seconds.

That is awesome, actually, yeah. It's funny, I met up with Grant a few weeks ago, and he said he wanted to get me in the Multiverse, he wanted to get me in what they were doing, but I have no idea in what capacity he was talking about.

We talked a couple of years ago that you knew how season four was going to take shape as early as day one, because Rob told you about Z-Day. Knowing that, were there any surprises left for you in the last season?

No, there were a lot more surprises. When we made season four, Rob was very much a part of iZombie, becuase he was our showrunner and that was the project that he was working on. So his vision was made clear to us and we sort of knew what was going down. There were a couple of surprises along the way, but we had a good overview of what was happening. What happened in season five was that Veronica Mars was being made, so Rob had departed iZombie. He was still our showrunner and he still had the same amount of control he always did, but he was focused on the Veronica Mars series, as was our other producer, Dan Etheridge. So it changed hands for a little bit, pretty much for the second half of the season. It became a little bit unpredictable, and I don't mean that as a negative. I just mean that now we weren't sure what the general overview was, we didn't know what the ending was. This season was probably the least informed we've ever been. John Enbom was, for all intents and purposes, filling in for Rob Thomas, and we weren't as sure what was happenign week to week because they were busy just cranking out scripts and keeping us on track. So there were surprises, there were things that we didn't think were going to happen that happened. It was fun. But we've also never been super informed on iZombie anyway. I didn't know I was being scratched until someone in the hair department mentioned it because they saw an early draft, and that was a week before we filmed it. It wasn't like we always really knew.