iZombie interview: John Emmet Tracy discusses Enzo’s evolution and the final season

iZombie -- "Insane in the Germ Brain" -- Image Number: ZMB411b_0078b.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Jason Dohring as Chase Graves, and Robert Buckley as Major -- Photo Credit: Jack Rowand/The CW -- © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
iZombie -- "Insane in the Germ Brain" -- Image Number: ZMB411b_0078b.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Jason Dohring as Chase Graves, and Robert Buckley as Major -- Photo Credit: Jack Rowand/The CW -- © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved. /

John Emmet Tracy is best known to iZombie fans as the quirky inspector, Enzo Lambert. He shares all about his character’s evolution and the final season with Hidden Remote.

It’s hard going into iZombie Season 5 knowing it’s the last season. Knowing that Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero have had the chance to wrap up this series the way they want has made it all the more easier, but don’t think you know how their minds are working. John Emmet Tracy, who plays Enzo Lambert on the show, shares that the ending isn’t what anybody expected.

Delve into this exclusive interview with Tracy about Enzo’s transformation over the last two seasons and what it’s been like working on the final season.

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Hidden Remote: One thing I have to say is how much I love the over-the-top French…

John Emmet Tracy: Crazy one?

HR: Yes, the French accent. Whose idea was it to go with that over-the-top accent?

JET: When we get the casting notice, we get what’s called the Breakdown. In this is said, “ridiculously, over-the-top,” and I think they said, “fake French accent that you can cut with a knife.” Then the first episode Enzo appeared in, which was actually Season 4, Episode 1, although the scene was cut in the end, the script said, “a cross between Inspector Clouseau and Sasha Baron Cohen” and then it said something like, “exaggerate that.”

I didn’t meet the creators until I was cast. When I got there, we had a conversation about it. Did they really want it exaggerated? Yeah, they wanted to have fun.

We’ve certainly taken liberties since then. I didn’t know the tone of the show before I was on it, so there are always questions on the first day. One of the EPs explained it as zombies with day jobs, so there was a level to play with [accents and personalities].

HR: When you came into iZombie, you definitely suited the whole tone of the series immediately.

JET: I’m really glad to hear that. In some ways, Enzo is a character you love to hate. Rahul said to me, “English people will hate you.” We had a lot of fun when you meet Enzo where he and I had a go at others’ accents.

John Emmet Tracy — Image acquired via Advantage PR
John Emmet Tracy — Image acquired via Advantage PR /

HR: Yeah, us English do have a love-hate relationship. It’s also so hard to tell what Enzo is actually thinking, and you’ve done this so well. You can say one thing, but your expression gives away nothing. I can’t tell whether you mean what you say or you’ve got something else planned. How have you kept that going for so long, now becoming a more integral part of the story?

JET: Thank you for saying that. The thing about Enzo is the writers are often careful to keep his deepest motivations under wraps. They’ll talk to me and the directors, but there are times Enzo was a device for misdirection.

Last season, it seemed as though he was falling for Brother Love and the zombie church, but you found out later he was building bridges with the U.S. military and starving off the zombie apocalypse. He was really working for Filmore-Graves that entire time.

When we have meetings about the direction things are going, there will be two or three things for Enzo. I think the idea there is to play the motivation on the page that seems to be where he’s going, but I usually know what’s really happening.

HR: I was wondering if you knew what is next for Enzo in future episodes while playing the misdirection scenes.

JET: Oh, yeah. It’s funny, though. Our set designers and assistant directors have to see the episodes long before the cast does, so little rumors will be spread. You’ll be in the makeup chair and people will tease bits. You pick up hints and the whole cast does that, especially when reading through the scripts.

Generally, a couple of episodes in advance, I know roughly where it’s going. What you try to do is create something that you can watch the second time but nothing changes, yet the end result is possible.

And it starts with Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero, who created the show, and our whole writing team. The way they manage to balance so many storylines and then synthesize them all together and be as funny as they are. We follow the lead of the talented writers.

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HR: Can you tease anything that’s coming up for Enzo?

JET: In some ways, Enzo is seen as the classic antagonist. We’re not given a lot of redeeming qualities about him. He seems like a radical zombie but he killed off a load of radical zombies for the betterment of New Seattle and the world. Other than that, you don’t see him at home — I’ve often wondered what he is like at home.

HR: It’s only been recently seen him in civilian clothes. It’s been fascinating seeing a slightly different side to him.

JET: Yeah, he’s one way in the uniform, but the way the civilian clothes are designed is brilliant. They joked that he was a cross between Elvis and Mr. Rogers, I think.

So, Enzo does have motivations that he’s going to pursue. It’s not always clear to know what those motivations are. You’ll definitely see more of Enzo and watch his story evolve.

You may have noticed that Enzo was initially only going to be there for one episode. He was just a comedic, over-the-top guest star for an episode. Then they kept writing for him, and he evolved what he does. This season, there’s not as many ridiculous lines. He’s become more sinister. There’s not as much of the bumbling inspector.

I think that evolution will continue as the season wraps up.

HR: Will viewers be satisfied with his and iZombie’s ending overall, do you think?

JET: Depending on which viewers you speak to! I remember speaking to Rose [McIver] at some point. There’s a scene where Enzo beats Rose up at one point at the end of last season and she said, “Oh boy, people are going to hate you.” There are people who would like to see Enzo die in a horrible way.

The bigger answer is the way this show wraps is incredibly exciting and not the way anybody was expecting. I think a lot of people have predictions about how we’re going to see things end, however, nobody involved in the show saw this particular end coming. I’m sure people watching haven’t figured it out yet, either.

HR: We’ve never have the chance to see Enzo on a different brain. Would you have liked to have that chance to be on a different brain and, if so, which brain would you have liked?

JET: I think it might have been fun to have Enzo to have the brain of a Frenchman and have the real accent. That would have been interesting to play. He’d seem more and less French at the same time.

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HR: What’s next for you now that iZombie is done?
JET: I have a couple of things. There’s a feature film that I did last year called Open for Submissions, which was a completely improvised script. It was about the goings-on behind the scenes at a film festival. This will be going to festivals very soon.

We were given a concept for the moment, cameras would roll, and we’d improvise the dialogue. I’m very excited to see how that turns out. It’s great, because everything you see is happening in the moment and it was directed by a talented man, Brian Skinner, who would create the concepts and direct at the same time.

There’s a really interesting film called The Whistler, which is a new tak eon the Pied Piper story. It’s a horror film, made by Jennifer Nicole Stang. That film will be going to San Diego Comic-Con, and I’ll be there with the film on July 19 for the screening.

I’m also looking forward to hearing how fans feel about the end of iZombie.

Next. 5 shows to watch if you love iZombie. dark

What are you excited to see happen in the final season? What do you love to hate about Enzo? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

iZombie’s final season continues on Thursdays at 8/7c on The CW.