How you heard about iZombie? That awesome TV series created by Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars), yes THE Rob Thomas. Let me paint a picture for you… Imagine attending a killer (pun intended) boat party: drinks flowing, fancy narcotics are being passed around, zombies gnawing on your arm, and suddenly you wake up in a body bag with a hankering for brainssss. Wait… that’s not normal. You weren’t expecting a feeding frenzy on the one night you decide to ditch being a dud and actually have some fun, were you? Of course not! To most people like Liv Moore (Rose McIver), going from overachieving medical resident to brain-eating undead is life ruining… but for other undead fiends like Julien Dupont (Aleks Paunovic) it’s life changing, he’s grabbing his after life by the brains and making a name for himself in this crazy new world.
Aleks Paunovic, who plays this rule breaking zombie, nails it with his cooler full of brains and his stealthy way of hiding the fact that he, ya know, consumes them on the daily with a hefty helping of hot sauce. Dubbed ‘the Candyman’ by delinquent teens at a skate park in town, this character is definitely not one to mess with– as Liv’s former fiancé Major (Robert Buckley) quickly realizes after confrontations with the resourceful criminal ends in bloodshed and Major behind bars.
Paunovic, who is well-known for his pivotal role as Gustus, the Commander’s (Alycia Debnam-Carey) right hand man on The 100 (squeee, we love this show too), is such a down-to-earth and dedicated dude. We chatted about his his love of storytelling, his interaction with fans on social media, and a new film called Numb, that he produced and also stars in.
MCKENZIE MORRELL: Hi Aleks, can you tell the readers about yourself and what initially drew you to acting?
ALEKS PAUNOVIC: Well, I played in a rock band for years. From early high school into my 30’s. I was asked after I played a show to audition for a HBO movie called Heads. I’ll try anything once and decided to go to the audition. I ended up booking it and loved the idea of being creative on my own. I loved my band and they guys I played with but there are four other personalities in the band with different and every evolving ideas. Was an uneasy feeling that a band can end ‘cause of some different directions. I realized that acting was about me. My story telling. I liked that.
MM: You play Julien in the new CW series iZombie, how has that experience been? Can you talk about having to play the undead…
AP: Playing Julien the Candyman Dupont has been a blast. Watching David Anders (Blaine) work is a joy. He’s like a little John Wayne. Just the coolest cat. Plus the friendships I’ve built with Rose, Robert, Raul [Kohli] and Malcolm [Goodwin] have been great. The writing on the show, as you can tell, is on point. all the writers have had laugh out loud moments with me when i first read the scripts. That doesn’t happen a lot. Rob Thomas, and Dan Etheridge have been great bosses to work for. Playing the undead is just so cool! [laughs] We aren’t your typical zombies.
MM: How do you relate to your character on iZombie?
AP: I relate to Julien in a way of getting what he needs. Just trying to survive in a difficult situation and not complain. It’s just a job, not personal.
MM: If you became a zombie in real life, would you tell anyone about it? Who would be the first person to know?
AP: [Laughs] Love this question. OK, I’m pretty sure I would tell my mom. I tell my mom everything. Unconditional love. She can’t be mad at me for eating brains.
MM: Are there any types of roles that you haven’t tackled yet, that you’d be interested in trying your hand at?
AP: I’ve pretty much done all types of characters, but I would really love to do more comedy.
MM: We have got to talk about The 100, you played Gustus, Lexa’s right-hand man in the post nuclear apocalypse series– what was your initial reaction to finding out that your character was going to die?
AP: My initial reaction after reading it was wow, now THAT’S a way to go out. I thought it was a very noble death. Gustus love for Lexa and his people was so great he sacrificed his life. The love he had for her was unmatched. I loved playing Gustus.
MM: Fans are hoping to get a Gustus ghost or flashback in Season 3, would you be down for a guest appearance?
AP: I would love to come back to the show and play Gustus again. Not only is it a great show with great writers. But the cast and crew are one of the best I’ve worked with.
MM: Do you and Gustus share any qualities or personality traits in real life?
AP: Yes, I believe we do. Dependable, always got your back.
MM: What has been the most memorable project you’ve worked on thus far?
AP: Right now I would have to say Go With Me with Sir Anthony Hopkins. Not only ‘cause I had a great scene with him in the movie but we developed an amazing friendship and are looking at doing another project together. i’m literally blown away at how amazing he is. Dude! It’s Anthony Friggin Hopkins!!!
MM: If you could star in a remake of any movie, what would it be and who would you want to play?
AP: Bladerunner – Roy Batty.
MM: What’s the worst or most uncomfortable costume you have had to wear for a role?
AP: I played one of the Cyclops’ in Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. The hair, the covering of both eyes in makeup and the one big eye in the middle of my forehead. and a bodysuit that was sooo hot! I think I lost ten pounds each day in that thing!
MM: How active are you on social media? Do people tweet you anything odd or inappropriate?
AP: I’m very active. I love talking to fans and touching base with them. No, nothing too weird. there was a couple things but those are easy to ignore. i’ve developed some great online friendships with some amazing fans. LOVE THEM!
MM: What are some of your other passions, besides acting? I heard you started out in boxing and music prior to becoming an actor.
AP: Ya, I come from a boxers family, my dad Dejan Paunovic was a champion boxer in the old Yugoslavia, he’s a high level amateur and pro trainer to this day. My uncle and grandfather were both champion boxers as well. I love the science of boxing, I also love teaching boxing to young kids. Such a great sport. Music is a big part of my life also. I actually jam with Marie Avgeropoulos and Henry Ian Cusick from The 100. They are both fantastic drummers. Whenever I get a chance I love to play.
MM: You have a lot of projects coming up this year, can you talk about any of them and when we can expect to see them?
AP: I’m really proud of a project I’m producing and starring in called NUMB. It stars Jamie Bamber (Battlestar Galactica) and Marie Avgeropoulos (The 100). It’s a great movie about greed and how it can change people. I’m also shooting the last season of Continuum right now playing a super solider named Rollins. Working on some other projects with my producing partner and best friend Tahmoh Penikett (Battlestar Galactica) and Brent Cote. We did our first project together called The Hostage.
iZombie airs on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on The CW