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Burn Notice Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

This is a transcript of an Interview with Bruce Campbell and Gabrielle Anwar on November 9, 2010 about the USA Network show Burn Notice.

Question:
So we're going into Season 4, what's new?

Bruce Campbell:
Come on, Gabrielle; give them the whole lowdown of the entire season.

Gabrielle Anwar:
Oh, no. You know how much better you are at that than I am.

Bruce Campbell:
Oh, no, oh, no, well, let me just say, I think it's safe to say that we're going to get more bad guys and we're going to get worse bad guys because this is getting worse. Michael Westen's situation is compounding and he's in a world of hurt and that drags us into it also. So everybody's in trouble. His mother's in trouble, we're all, you know, it just - every episode it seems to escalate. I mean wouldn't you say that's the general feeling, Gabrielle?

Gabrielle Anwar:
Yes, I think you're right, it builds to quite a crescendo in the last episode, but you're right, it's a continual snowballing effect. We can't seem to get out of trouble.

Bruce Campbell:
No, and we have other side jobs and, you know, we all - the cases come in every week from different ways, but there's still the through line of Michael Westen's situation is getting more and more perilous and dangerous and he's getting more powerful people pissed off at him and he's, you know.

And I think by the end, I have to say, when I read the end scene of the end of this season, it actually was a jaw dropper for me. So most TV shows don't give you that. The nice thing about this season, the last half of this season is there's going to be a big boom at the end of this. There's going to be a big, "What the f?" moment.

Question:
In terms of your characters, are you guys getting more ramped up, more involved and seeing more danger for your characters as people as well as with Michael?

Gabrielle Anwar:
Yes.

Bruce Campbell:
Yes, Gabrielle, wouldn't you say we get dragged into it because of him? We're part of this team now.

Gabrielle Anwar:
Yes, I think that loyalty surpasses the peril that we're all in and he's getting himself deeper and deeper into trouble and we're sort of caught in the crossfire.

Bruce Campbell:
And also, you know, we can't - we can't say no to him. It's not possible. We give him a lot of crap, particularly, you know, Fiona's, you know, that character, and rightfully so, because he's doing things that are risky. But he's one of these classic, it's all for the greater good kind of guys, so we each have our own codes and ethics, the stuff that really gets the Fiona character pissed off, the stuff that really get's Sam's goat, and the stuff that fuels Michael Westen.

So we're actually all fighting for the right thing, but we just have way different approaches in how to do it and so, you know, my theory about this show is that we break laws every episode, but we don't do anything wrong. You know what I mean? We're just trying to deal with it ourselves.

Bruce Campbell:
But I like the vigilante nature of it we're actually, technically, vigilantes, which I kind of like.

Question:
How?

Bruce Campbell:
I mean I think if the world has - I think the world needs a few vigilantes, someone out there who's willing to step up and go, "You know what? This ain't happening. I got to take care of business here."

Question:
Gabrielle, how you feel about that? Fiona's obviously - that's the perfect thing for her to do.

Bruce Campbell:
Absolutely. She's a vigilante.

Gabrielle Anwar:
I feel very happy about that definition, in fact. Bruce, you just made my day.

Bruce Campbell:
She's a freaking vigilante. She does pull it off, she's a bad ass. It's a great character for her. You know, when people meet her, they'll go, "Oh, my God, she's like a nice, really sweet person."

Gabrielle Anwar:
They do?

Bruce Campbell:
Oh, I think so, when you're not working, you know. I'm kidding, of course, but, you know, the Fiona character's a great - I think for you, Gabrielle, I don't know how you feel, but I think it's a great character because you're so tough. Sam won't even mess with you. No one messes with you.

Gabrielle Anwar:
Yes, I, you know, I'm truly blessed to be able to step into her shoes every day.

Bruce Campbell:
Yes.

Gabrielle Anwar:
And I love the fact that she really is not apologetic for her inner vigilante. I think it's an ingeniously written role. I'm very proud to be playing her.

Bruce Campbell:
And it's good for the, you know, it's good for womanhood in that it's just another ass kicking woman who just steps up and she's just like the guys, I mean, no difference. There's no difference in abilities, no nothing, you know? She can take you out as many ways as Michael Westen or Sam Axe, probably more.

Gabrielle Anwar:
In heels.

Question:
And in stilettos.

Bruce Campbell:
Yes, in - and backwards, exactly.

Gabrielle Anwar:
That's my hero, that's my role model right there.

Question:
So we're in the fourth season and you've been doing it awhile. What about your characters continues to challenge you?

Gabrielle Anwar:
The high heels.

Bruce Campbell:
The high heels and memorizing dialogue.

Gabrielle Anwar:
Oh, yes, you and me both, my God.

Bruce Campbell:
Yes, I mean, we, this is what people don't - it's not a complaint from us as actors, that's what we have to do, we have to memorize lines.

The only thing about television, it's like a series of waves crashing over your head before you get a full breath in that while you're sort of figuring out the current script, the next one comes in, it's like, "Hey, hey, look at that speech on page four," you know? And you haven't even gotten there yet, and so you relish it as an actor because if they didn't give you a lot of dialogue, right Gabrielle? You'd complain. If you -

Gabrielle Anwar:
Well, in my heels...

Bruce Campbell:
Or crappy dialogue or, you know what I mean? But if they gave you a lot, it's challenging and if they don't give you anything, it's challenging in a way. So it's sort of the basics of our job that a lot of our challenge from day to day is really just pulling this show off in seven days, which is kind of absurd. And Gabrielle would agree that the filming methods we have to do to get this show done are absurd.

Gabrielle Anwar:
Yes, it's a tremendous amount of work from every department on the crew and...

Bruce Campbell:
Every department, everybody's maxed out for seven months, basically.

Gabrielle Anwar:
Right and it's hard, but in television, which I wasn't privy to, because I hadn't much television experience, but you have the luxury on a feature film of, you have the script months, oftentimes before you begin, so you have the entire thing mapped out in your mind, you have a beginning, a middle and an end.

On, with a television show, you're doing a mini feature film every week, so it's very, very hard to catch up with yourself.

Bruce Campbell:
And, you're meeting - sometimes meeting a new director for the first time.

Gabrielle Anwar:
Right, yes.

Bruce Campbell:
On the first day of shooting, "Oh, hi, what's your name? (Joe)? Oh, yes, okay. What do you got in mind here?" You know?

Gabrielle Anwar:
Right. Yes, you really do have to stay on your toes, it's - and it's a lot of staying on your toes.

Bruce Campbell:
Yes, and it's a marathon, you know, because the weather starts to heat up and everybody slows down and, you know, it can get brutal, but I think at the end of the day, it still is - we all feel, as actors, that the show is still worth it because it - when it all gets put together, I have to say, I watch it sometimes and I go, "Wow, that was kind of a slick ass show."

And you don't think of it - I don't think of it when we shoot it, we shoot it, we're cracking jokes, there's things happening behind the scenes. To me, it's all disjointed, but it's kind of nice to see them all put together and it's - we feel very much supported by the people on the back end, too, the people who do all the editing. They're busy people, the editors, you know? And they keep us in line, they hopefully use all of our best stuff, because, you know, you can get raggedy over seven months, sometimes you don't nail that take every single time and you have to rely on somebody to nurture you.

So we feel supported by the writers, we feel supported by, you know, the post production and Gabrielle loves to boss the directors around, so that works out fine.

Question:
How much time do you guys have to spend training and preparing for the physical side of your characters?

Bruce Campbell:
Well, Gabrielle, go ahead about, you know, just surviving the seven months in general.

Gabrielle Anwar:
You know, there really isn't time to do any kind of formal training. There truly isn't time. I mean there's barely time to wolf down breakfast in the morning, let alone, you know, burn those calories off. It's - I mean I haven't done any training. I actually during the first season went to shoot at a military place where they have a lot of guns. I don't even know the name of it, but...

Bruce Campbell:
So like a gun range?

Gabrielle Anwar:
Gun range, there you go.

Bruce Campbell:
We went to a range, yes.

Gabrielle Anwar:
Yes. But that was it and really I only did that because I have a sort of innate aversion to militia and I wanted to not play Fiona with that fear. Of course, once the weapon was in my hand, I felt like, you know, King Kong.

Bruce Campbell:
Yes, yes.

Gabrielle Anwar:
But - so there, I haven't had any training. Jeffrey, I think is the only one amongst our cast that actually has had any martial arts training. Am I right, Bruce?

Bruce Campbell:
Yes, correct, because, you know, I've done some action stuff, but it's always been, you figure out the choreography as you shoot it on that given day. You don't - and in, especially in Gabrielle's case, every week, they're shoving a new weapon into her hand, something that's even bigger and bigger.

She carries the most ridiculously heavy weapons I've ever felt, I've ever (saw). And, you know, you got to hold it up there and look like the tough guy and that thing's as heavy as you are sometimes.

Gabrielle Anwar:
I know.

Bruce Campbell:
You know? So...

Gabrielle Anwar:
I know, yes, I'm - by the end of the season, I start whining. In the beginning, I'm like, "I can handle this." And, "Look at me." And, "Hear me roar." And then by the end of the season I'm like a little kitten like, whining and meowing.

Bruce Campbell:
Well, we have real guns and fake guns and the fake guns are sometimes rubber, so in many cases, I'll tell the prop guy, I'm just running around with it, "Just give me the rubber, just give me the fake one." You know, so we don't even have to carry the real guns around. But I just gave away a trade secret, so I'm sorry Matt Nix, sorry.

Question:
No, we all knew, we all knew, it wasn't a secret. Don't worry.

Bruce Campbell:
Yes.

Question:
Not taking into account networks or anything like that, what shows would you like to see a crossover done with?

Bruce Campbell:
The evening news, which is the only TV that I watch.

Gabrielle Anwar:
Do they have to be current shows?

Question:
No, not at all.

Gabrielle Anwar:
I would say The Avengers.

Bruce Campbell:
Oh, there you go, that's a good one. That's a very good one. Let's see, wow, that's bizarre. Let's see, a spy - well, I would mix this one with I Spy, the one that had Bill Cosby.

Gabrielle Anwar:
Right.

Bruce Campbell:
And Robert Culp. Because now you'd have like, old school spies, new school spies.

Gabrielle Anwar:
What about In Like Flint?

Bruce Campbell:
Oh, that's a good one, too. That's a good one, too.

Question:
Now that Jesse knows that Michael is the one that burned him, how do things progress from there with his character?

Bruce Campbell:
We're not allowed to tell you that.

Question:
Nothing at all?

Bruce Campbell:
We can only tell you so much about that stuff because it's all relevant to what's happening. The point is this - if you have to work together for the greater good, you will. And so, but it's going to be a long road. You'll see how that character fits in as it progresses. You know, it's a tough ting to weave in a new character. It's something you have to really pay attention to. And, you know, we've been very happy to have Coby Bell come along and play.

Question:
Can you guys talk about Simon's bible and what fans can expect from Eyes Open?

Gabrielle Anwar:
Can we?

Bruce Campbell:
I'm sure you can give them juicy tidbits, Gabrielle.

Gabrielle Anwar:
You think? What can we expect from the bible?

Bruce Campbell:
Well, it's a puzzle, isn't it?

Gabrielle Anwar:
It is a puzzle.

Bruce Campbell:
And with a jigsaw puzzle, you have to put the pieces of the puzzle together. And when you put the puzzle together, you step back and you see an amazing picture. So what Simon's bible does is present the opportunity to see and know everything.

Gabrielle Anwar:
Amen.

Bruce Campbell:
So, you know what I mean? And that's vague, but it's pretty accurate, I think. And look, these scripts are very - they're very dense. Sometimes Gabrielle and I will look at each other in a scene and go, "Is that guy - how bad do we - do we really hate that guy?" You know what I mean? Because we're trying to figure out...

Gabrielle Anwar:
Why did we just kill him?

Bruce Campbell:
Totally. Did we have to kill that guy? Okay. All right. What's the next scene? You know? But we try and stay up with it, frankly. That's all you're going to get.

Question:
Fair enough. But the next episode isn't really Sam-heavy, I was wondering, are there any Sam-specific episodes coming up\?

Bruce Campbell:
I'm being written out of the show.

Question:
What?

Gabrielle Anwar:
No.

Bruce Campbell:
I'm being written out of the show. Gabrielle wouldn't like that because then she'd have to work more days.

Gabrielle Anwar:
No.

Bruce Campbell:
No, well here's the scoop, this is kind of how it goes. Obviously it's the main story of Michael Westen, but what will happen is that during the course of this season I think you're going to see - coming up, I think you're going to see episodes that are Sam-tastic and, you know, Fiona-riffic.

And that's what they do, they emphasize certain characters to help kind of grow the show, so there would be some Sam-centric episodes coming up and some Fiona-centric episode because they want to do that. They want people to know that we're kind of in it to win it, that we're part of the show and I think that's cool. And therefore, there's going to be some episodes that you're not in as much as a character, so it fluctuates.

Question:
Any interesting guest stars coming up?

Bruce Campbell:
What have we got? We got Robert Patrick, he - has he already been in? Robert Patrick? I think he was...

Gabrielle Anwar:
I think he was - he's been popped off already.

Bruce Campbell:
Oh, he just bit it, didn't he?

Gabrielle Anwar:
Yes.

Bruce Campbell:
Yes. Jeez, we're trying to figure out which amount of episodes are left, you know? I would say that they are all good, to be effusive and dodging the question. Only because it's hard for us to tick them off, seriously. We've had some cool guest stars and I hope that if the show stays popular, we can keep getting good guest stars. That's the beauty of having a popular show, that actors will actually show up on your show.

Question:
With Michael's secret out about him burning Jesse, how is that going to affect Fiona and Jesse's chemistry romantically?

Gabrielle Anwar:
Ooh, well, it definitely does affect it. I think that the lack of trust is a huge component into whether the two of them evolve or devolve; I suppose one should say, but yes, it gets a little hairy there for a moment.

Question:
And we've seen Sam with some lovely ladies on his arm in the past couple of seasons. Is there any chance for you to get a love interest again, Bruce?

Bruce Campbell:
Yes, where have all the ladies gone? I mean, it's like, I'm fighting Michael Westen's stupid missions the whole time, Sam doesn't even, you know, he's like this old geezer that they yank back into service and he's like, "Wait, I was having a good time." So I don't know, I think he's just kind of back in the fold now. You've noticed that Sam has a different car about every second episode and now they're all junkers, they're all pieces of crap because they're all going to get wrecked.

I used to have these really nice cars because I used to have a life outside of this, but now that Burn Notice is actually getting more intense, it actually, I don't see - they can't find the time to have Sam like, go bowling and drink mojitos with some hot lady because basically we're all getting co-opted. We'd be on a stakeout instead. So it's bad for the personal lives of these characters. It sucks.

Gabrielle Anwar:
I think you need to talk to Matt Nix about this.

Bruce Campbell:
Matt, let's get - I have to straighten this out right now, let's get the ladies back on.

Question:
What we should expect from the Sam Axe movie that you guys are getting ready to make?

Bruce Campbell:
You should expect two hours of bad ass-ness, that's what you should expect.

Question:
Are we going to get to see you whoring around and drinking so more during it?

Bruce Campbell:
No, because Sam's - this is Sam's last military mission, so I have to lose weight and dye my hair darker. Because it's a prequel, so I'm training in the mountains of Oregon right now. And I'm not even kidding. Here's the cool thing about it, here's what's key. It does not have the fabulous, you know, Gabrielle Anwar, but we may, you know, approach her with lots of money for like, a telephone cameo or something. But it's mostly...

Gabrielle Anwar:
Did we know each other back then?

Bruce Campbell:
Probably of. Knew of each other, because if Mike was still active and I was active, I would have known that you and him were doing the the nasty. So...

Gabrielle Anwar:
I'll have my people call your people.

Bruce Campbell:
Thank you, that's a good idea. But Matt Nix has put a component of this next season, Season 5, he put a component, he plants a seed in the TV movie that will come to fruition in Season 5, which I think is pretty fun.

Gabrielle Anwar:
Oh, yeah.

Bruce Campbell:
So if you really want to be the Burn Notice junkie, you've got to watch that TV movie. And it's not for my sake, it's for the, you know, for the viewer's sake.

Question:
This last season Maddie has sort of become more integral to the group. Can we expect to continue to see her becoming more part of the missions?

Bruce Campbell:
Gabrielle, what do you think?

Gabrielle Anwar:
Yes, I think you're right. You know, I think she's always been the backbone of the team. I think she's become a little bit more visually involved. I always felt her presence in every episode previously, but yes, she definitely becomes a more integral part on camera, for sure. Thank goodness. How much do we love Sharon?

Bruce Campbell:
Oh, yes, we love her a lot, so we want to get her back and you know, it's a logical progression. You can only go so many seasons with her going, "Michael, what were those dudes doing here? What were those guys with guns doing here?" I mean, it wears out after awhile, so the nice thing is, she's accepted it, but she's also - Michael Westen is Michael Westen because of his mom, because she's a tough broad. So she's actually a great person to have in the field.

We've already used her playing Bingo, you know, and she's a great ringer and she goes in and looks for county records and all sweet and innocent and then she lies to their face, you know? So it's a fun character for her and, you know, she happened - Sharon lives in Miami, so it's perfect for her, too. And her husband laughs because he says now she gets paid to smoke, since she loves smoking.

Question:
You've played Ash again and again, but this is the longest you've continuously played a single character. What have been surprises playing a character so long?

Bruce Campbell:
Actually, Autolycus from Hercules has been longer.

Question:
Oh, was it? Okay.

Bruce Campbell:
Yes, I played that '95 to 2000. So starting Season 5, Burn Notice will tie the record. We've been committed for Season 6. So I think once Season 6 rolls around, that'll be a record.

Question:
Okay. Fair enough, but have there been any surprises playing a character for so long?

Bruce Campbell:
No, the surprises are that there are no surprises. And that's the good news, that you get to know a character, therefore it allows you to then play with it. It's like once you learn the instrument, then you can play with it. So, because you know, you make a movie sometimes and the first two weeks, I want to throw that footage out, because you don't know what you're doing with that character.

It's only three, four weeks into it. So I'm actually glad with a TV show, you get to kind of finesse it over time and so do the writers. They get to watch how they - it's up to them, ultimately.

Question:
How have the writers made Sam more like you over the years?

Bruce Campbell:
Well, they sometimes will slip in vernacular that I say or ways that I say something, or if I have trouble saying what they've written sometimes, we'll work with each other to figure out how I can say it. And then once they see how I talk, sometimes they'll adapt to that, you know? So it's just practical stuff.

Question:
Have you ever gotten one of your scripts and just been completely blown away by something that your character's going to do?

Bruce Campbell:
Oh, I've been certainly really happy and delighted and surprised, you know? But they're like little Easter eggs that you find. So you always look for those and, you know, the Burn Notice writers are pretty good at serving up good stuff, so I try not to get in their face because they kind of do their thing, they do it pretty well.

Question:
You guys film on location. Is there a huge difference between shooting there or say, L.A.? Do you prefer shooting on location?

Bruce Campbell:
I'm contractually obligated to say that I like shooting on location, so that's what I'll say. Well, here's what it is, Miami, on film, terrific, looks great. We are kind of mandated to shoot outside 60% of the time so that you actually see Miami as a character. And it's great. Florida should send us a check for tourism every week because that city looks awesome in our hands and, you know, it's a cool, dynamic city. But it can be problematic with the heat and the rain because you're basically in the jungle.

Question:
What's your advice to actors?

Bruce Campbell:
Become a producer. Because, you know, I did that to get my first job. Evil Dead was 31 years ago now, my - the first Evil Dead movie. And, you know, I was one of the producers who made the movie and so there was no issue of who - how I was going to get that part. I was just going to have that part. So, you know, there are ways to do the end run, but they're never the easy way. You know, an actor should never sit back and assume that there's only one way to get a job. Take control. We live in America, be here now.

Question:
It always seems like Sam and Maddie have a great chemistry going on there. I know he likes the young, beautiful ladies, but do you think there'd ever be anything more between them?

Bruce Campbell:
No. No.

Question:
No?

Bruce Campbell:
No, because it'd be too creepy. Because I don't think Sam would do it because of Mike, because of his character, Michael Westen. Because if you're a loyal friend, you don't sleep with their mother.

Question:
I read that Michael moves home with Maddie. Any comment on that? I gather it's because the loft is blown up, again?

Bruce Campbell:
Well, let's just say it becomes inhospitable.

Question:
Does Jesse ever become more of a member of the team without hating Michael?

Bruce Campbell:
Well, you'll have to see, you know, Michael Westen did what he did without a bad intent, and so what Jesse's going to have to eventually realize is that what the greater good is and whether he's part of that greater good. Michael Westen's a greater good kind of guy. So Jesse hopefully will theoretically see the bigger picture. But as I think I quoted earlier, it's going to be a long, bumpy road.

Question:
What are some of your favorite scenes to film?

Bruce Campbell:
Ones where Sam is shooting a lot of BS into the air, where he's trying to con his way into something or, you know, he's trying to fast talk somebody. Those are always fun to do.

Question:
You said what guest stars you are going to have on the upcoming season. Do you have a wish list of guest stars?

Bruce Campbell:
Just more. I want more of the same. I want more people like Burt Reynolds. I want some you know, let's get some big names in there. You know, I'm sure they're trying and because it is a hit show, we do have the ability to get, you know, some decent folks, so hopefully Season 5 will be the same.

Question:
What's the favorite quality of your character, Sam?

Bruce Campbell:
That he says it like it is. That he doesn't mince words, he's a straight shooter and he has a pretty good sense of right and wrong.

Question:
Chuck Finley, one name, many men. Which one is your favorite?

Bruce Campbell:
Which Chuck Finley usage? The one recently where I wore a white suit and I had to infiltrate the world of a - like a guy who hustles women. And so he had to, you know, be a player and, you know, look like a swinger and act like a swinger and that was a lot of fun.

Question:
Which moment do you think, where after you saw the the footage that was shot did you think, "You know what? I've got the character now, I understand it." And that's the defining moment. Have you had a moment like that?

Bruce Campbell:
No, there's never a defining moment.

Question:
No?

Bruce Campbell:
No, because it's always, it's, you know, like life, we're a moving target. So the character's always a moving target. You'll find out his flaws and his strengths, you know, I'd like to find out that Sam's a really good bowler. But it'll take awhile to get that out, you know? But hopefully, that's the things you can do if you stay on the air long enough, you can fool around with different parts of their character.

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