Jeffrey Donovan on 'Burn Notice': 'We've never really seen how dark Michael can go'
Jeffrey Donovan talks Acting, working with the Burn Notice cast and more! There's such great chemistry between you and Gabrielle Anwar on the show. and his relationship with his father, I think that's an interesting road. Over the six seasons that Gabrielle Anwar has worked with Jeffrey Donovan on USA Network's Burn Notice, she has seen a clear change in her. Star Jeffrey Donovan talks about season six of the USA series Burn Bruce Campbell, Gabrielle Anwar, Coby Bell and Sharon Gless. . mystery behind Michael's past and his relationship with his father is an interesting road.
When you sign up for a TV show, you don't know if it's going to be for a pilot or for the rest of your life, so I wanted to play a character that I enjoyed thoroughly, and there weren't that many of them out there. So that's why I clasped onto this script with great hope. Are you happy with where you guys have ended up with your characters and where would you like to see them go in the future? I know from talking with all the other cast mates, we're very happy with where it's going. But sometimes Matt Nix and all the other writers keep us slightly in the character dark, not because they don't trust us with the knowledge, but they're just trying to figure it out as well along the way.
When you're dealing with espionage and covert affairs, sometimes the secret is more exciting than the knowledge. If we were both in charge, I would love a deeper insight into Michael's past, that's for me.
I don't know about Gabrielle, what would you like?
I'm quite happy with Fiona's enigmatic state of being. I don't think I need to know more about, I'd love to know more about where you're from, absolutely, but I quite like not knowing.
I don't like to know who I am.
In the upcoming episode, Michael will be going somewhere other than Miami and that he won't be alone. Can you tell us where your characters going and why, as well as who's going with him? Well, obviously I can't. It's the season finale, and it's really literally in the last five minutes of the show. It's a bit of a cliffhanger. Michael's been stuck in Miami for quite some time, and there's a couple of psychopaths on his tail, and things come to a hilt.
And by the end of the show, Michael is actually transported out of Miami, but I can't tell you where, but it's a bit of a cliffhanger. We're seeing how Michael is and how the group is without the big overall mystery of who burnt Michael Westen, and who's doing this; is there going to be a return of management anytime soon?
Yes, season four is actually pretty remarkable. I met with the writers last week and we kind of broke down the next eight or nine episode ark. A new character is going to be introduced. I don't know the name yet, but he is going to be a young operative, but he's going to play a significant new role on the show.
Then there is actually going to be a change of management. There's going to be a new management that controls Michael's life, and you'll see Michael have to go on even more dangerous missions under this new management with the new operative. I really enjoyed seeing Tim Matheson and you play off each other, and I'm wondering will we see Larry again? Larry's such a pivotal thorn in Michael's He's a terrific character and Tim's such a wonderful man and an extraordinary actor.
One, we were lucky to get him, and two, he's actually happy to be on the show and wants to continually come back. He'll be directing season four's premiere and also, he'll return as Larry at some point in the season.
Regarding you and Madeline, your relationship with each other, and obviously she and Michael are a tribe of two. Can you talk about that? I think that these two women have a tremendous amount of respect for one another. There's so little spoken about what's really being felt and really being witnessed with that connection to Michael, which I think is pretty accurate to real life, especially with the in-law figures.
There's so much that's not spoken out loud, and yet there are so many physical undertones and it's very apparent, and that's thanks to Sharon. I mean, her performance is so beautifully nuanced and I find it terribly inspiring. She's a wonderful woman and actress. The addition of Chris Vance as a psychopath Mason Gilroy has really given you guys a violent insane villainess this season.
And when Michael and Gilroy meet it seems like they're kind of coiled vipers waiting to strike at each other. How is working with him added to the show during the season? Yes, he's definitely added a great tension to every scene that I'm in with him, and I think kind of a great super villain that kind of governs over the show.
I think the best part of Burn Notice is always when the villain or guest star is either more talented, smarter, or crazier than the rest of the cast, because it ups all our game. I don't actually get to work with Gilroy, but I agree with you. There's nothing more inspiring than to have to pull everything you have out of your back pocket on the stage.
And we have so little time to rehearse and to find everything imaginable in one scene, that when you do have this fantastic talent to work with, it really is, it's fun, it makes it so much more enjoyable. It's really obvious that Miami is as much a character in the show as the setting.
What's your guys favorite part about filming in such a diverse and vibrant city? I actually love the weather, to be honest with you. I love that the climate is constantly being washed and rinsed.
Always make the villains smarter than Michael but Michael just figures out the one Achilles heel that the villain has. And the closest person to ever do that was Jay Karnes.
And an actor like that is incredible anyway but to put him in that role where he basically tells Michael, what are you going to do?
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Are you going to do this? Well then I have the answer to that. Are you going to do that? He always was one step ahead of Michael which was always the — kind of a great villain, a great foe is that the villain is smarter than you.
If you could act alongside any actor living or dead who would it be? Edgar and I would have loved to have stepped into the ring with him. There is an authenticity and a reality that he just brings because of the person he is. So I would have loved to have done that. That would probably be — I would probably consider myself accomplished if I could ever go toe to toe with him. How do you continue to maintain that? Spend as little time with each other off the set. When you play a role like Michael and Fiona, there is an intimacy and a kind of spark that I think is hard to maintain over seven years when you spend every, you know, working hour with them and then every social hour with them.
Jeffrey Donovan & Gabrielle Anwar Interview (Burn Notice)
So we do our best to never lay eyes on each other after work. How was it working with John C. You know, going toe to toe with McGinley is, you know, you should — though you will never be recognized you should just win an award for going toe to toe with John C. How long can you see playing this role and do you have a vision of how you would like to see it end for Michael? But the only thing that can happen is that it becomes much more personal.
It — now it becomes about his family, his past and his friends. And I think that will probably be what Season 7 is about. And I guess, you know, it will come full circle because when Michael was burned he was plopped in Miami and he had to deal with his mother and he had to deal with Fiona. And I think probably Season 7 will be our final season and it will probably come down to those two people probably in some devastating fashion.
You know, you do run the risk of getting into a monotonous rut because you shoot 70 hours a week the same character and sometimes overlapping dialog from other episodes kind of, you know, creep back in. But whenever you show up, especially with someone like Sharon Gless or with Bruce Cambell, they have such a freshness when they come onset and such a great attitude that it kind of inspires you.
So staying sharp is — I thank, you know, the actors for being sharp because it can become kind of monotonous. As you mentioned, for another season to happen you do sort of have to take the show and the character in a different direction.
vifleem.info: Jeffrey Donovan and Gabrielle Anwar interview about 'Burn Notice.'
Well I think that not only am I kind of tired of it, I think maybe the fans are a little tired of just me trying to get back into the CIA and burned. I mean when his brother is killed I mean you can see a rage in Michael that — which hopefully the audiences kind of connect with. But I think that there is a side of Michael that would channel some kind of monster if he felt like that was the only way to get retribution for someone being hurt that he loved.
One thing that always cracks me up when watching Burn Notice is the tags that they put on the freeze screens of like the newer temporary characters such as Gilroy Freelance Psychopath or Damon … What would each of your tags be under your names, not for Michael and Fiona, but for Jeffrey and Gabrielle?
Donovan If I got introduced, a smiling shark. I have a black belt in Shotokan karate, about 15 years experience. I have eight years in Jujitsu and Akito, and about three years of boxing. So what I try to do in every episode is the stunt coordinator makes it safe, but most of the time I choreograph it. And if something gets too physical, then the stunt men come in and take over. I love walking about four or five hours on a golf course.
In fact, sitting here in this hotel room in New York is as exciting as it gets for me, my alone time. I was curious now having three seasons under your belt, is it getting easier or harder to keep playing these characters and stay invested in them?
What would you say, Gabrielle? I have that anxiety before we start shooting. Donovan Oh, you underestimate your insanity. Anwar Really, oh, thank you, I really appreciate that support. Have you ever tried any of the spy tips you give on the show? Anwar Not the spy tips, no, but I do think that I can do super human things like drive my car at miles an hour on the PCH and then get into trouble for it.
You have such fantastic chemistry on screen, so what is it like off screen with each other and with other cast members?
We have dinner, we hang out whenever we have time off, which is very little. They were both laughing very hard through this question, really throughout the whole interview, so it was obviously a joke about not finding each other funny at all.
Where people who had not seen the show tried to figure out what it was about based on vague promos and sort of an obscure title.
So I just thought it was hysterical. What did you think, Gabrielle? Anwar I thought it was funny. He can make fun of me anytime. The addition of Chris Vance as a psychopath Mason Gilroy is really given you guys a violent insane villainess this season. He seems to really enjoy being a psycho. How is working with him added to the show during the season?
I think the best part of Burn Notice is always when the villain or guest star is either more talented, smarter, or crazier than the rest of the cast, because it ups all our game. What do you think, Gabrielle? Anwar Yes, I agree. Donovan I actually love the weather, to be honest with you. I love that the climate is constantly being washed and rinsed. I mean those themes at the start of this mid-season premiere, they were heart wrenching. Donovan Yes, and neither did I, it was almost all with Sharon.
So we all, to be honest with you, sat back and watched two pros go toe-to-toe 12 rounds. It was quite remarkable. We were all just blown away by it. So I was more of a spectator like you than I was an actor in it. Were you ever actually afraid doing it? Donovan Yes, the most dangerous is either a bomb or something going off or a fight with Gabrielle. Do you think that that could ever work, like just as part of the show?
Donovan What do you think, Gabrielle? Anwar No, what do you think? Anwar No, no, no, no answer. Once the banter ended after a couple of seasons and they slept together, there was no tension. That is a typical TV relationship. Did that sort of come naturally with just dealing with Sharon over the years or is that something that was sort of planned out?
Do you want to see a mother and son antagonistically attack each other every single episode for five years?