Blast took part in a Q&A session with Jeffrey Donovan and Gabrielle Anwar, the stars of the hit USA series “Burn Notice.”
In this week’s season three finale, Michael’s worst fears come to life when a world class terrorist is unleashed on Miami, threatening to detonate a bomb if Michael doesn’t give him what he wants.
Here’s the interview:
REPORTER: Are you surprised at the success of this show? And I know at times, for USA, the show is either competitive with NBC or sometimes even passing it. Are you surprised with the following that it’s gotten over the years?
JEFFREY DONOVAN: Well, I think that all you can hope for is that you make something that people want to watch and then somehow keep integrity while doing that.
And so I think we’re very happy with the ratings definitely. I know we work really hard, so surprised, yes, we’re always surprised when anything succeeds in this day and age.
REPORTER: Can you talk about your characters and just kind of the evolution that we’ve seen in your characters, and are you happy with where you guys have ended up with your characters? And if you’re in charge of everything, where would you like to see them go I guess in the season or in the future?
GABRIELLE ANWAR: I don’t know where we’re going, where are we going, Jeffrey?
JD: Well, I think that, I’ll speak for Gabrielle, I mean 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?
GA: 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.
REPORTER: We read online that in an 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?
JD: 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.
REPORTER: For both of you, what first drew you to the show and to your characters?
GA: I was drawn to the character, Fiona, I just thought it was so brilliantly written. It was sparingly written, but so insightful. I couldn’t believe that a man had actually written the script, I mean at least her character. When I first met Matt Nix, who created and wrote the script, I actually said to him, you must have a remarkable relationship with your wife, because you have such incredible insight. So that was what intrigued me about playing a character.
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.
JD: I got hooked on the voiceover, the first page is a voiceover, it says, “You know what it’s like to be a spy?” I love the idea that not only do I get to play a spy, I get to play a burn spy, and on top of that, I can talk to the audience about what it’s like being a spy. I thought I had never seen anything like that on television, so that’s what hooked me.
REPORTER: Can you tell us anything about “Good Intentions?”
JD: It’s difficult, because a lot of it is, The Penultimate Episode and then the finale have a lot of cliffhangers and a lot of reveals.
So without giving too much away, Gilroy, who’s basically a psychopath controlling Michael’s actions, has to deliver a plane that has a secret piece of cargo in it and needs Michael’s help to do it. When that happens, you find out it actually is someone quite dangerous, and Michael unfortunately allows him to escape.
And then the finale is about trying to capture this psychopath that’s loose.
REPORTER: What was it like working with Carlos Bernard in the episode?
GA: Fantastic. He’s such a wonderful man and a fantastic actor, it was an absolute pleasure.
REPORTER: You both obviously had success in film, and a lot of times when that happens, people are less likely to want to do television. What do you like about this particular medium and why do you keep coming back to television? What do you like about this?
JD: I think that, especially with cable, it’s an avenue to be creative. I think why people are drawn more now to cable shows than ever is that they take more risks, they’re creatively pushing the envelope. I think that the networks have to answer to a bigger advertising calling, whereas the smaller cables have lower ceilings that they can bump their heads on. So I think that’s why I keep being drawn back to television, because I think it’s one of the most creative outlets.
And if you think about it, we make 16 one-hour movies a season. You don’t get any opportunity like that in movies. I mean, I can’t say I’ll be able to do 16 movies in the next year, and so that’s how I see it. How about you, Gabrielle?
GA: I like the stability, the continuity of having a lifestyle where I know I can pay my rent at the end of each month. And also I have these children that I am raising and it’s nice for all of us to sort of know that we’re going to be in a specific place for a certain amount of time. I’ve never known that in my career. So I’m really quite grateful at this point that I get to have the sort of double existence and I can rely on both.
REPORTER: Take us a little bit inside Fiona’s mind with regard to Michael’s pursuit of the truth of trying to erase the burn notice. What is her sort of threshold? How long can she wait for him to sort of fulfill this quest that he’s on?
GA: I don’t know. It’s really not up to me is it? I have my own personal threshold and it was at the end of season one.
JD: Wow, wow.
GA: I think it’s going to be a real testament to have patience and adoration of Michael, which I don’t think she would admit either.
REPORTER: We really enjoyed seeing Tim Matheson and you play off each other, and I’m wondering will we see Larry again?
JD: Yes, you will. Larry’s such a pivotal thorn in Michael’s … and that gives my character great ammunition to kind of fight with. 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.
JD: And also, he’ll return as Larry at some point in the season.
REPORTER: And Gabrielle, we love the unspoken communication, you guys say more in glances and looks than what’s delivered on the script, and that’s another wonderful thing about this series. And Gabrielle, we were wondering about you and Madeline, your relationship with each other, and obviously she and Michael are a tribe of two, but we think it’s growing bigger. Can you talk about that?
GA: Yes. I think that these two women have a tremendous amount of respect for one another. And you’re right, 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.
REPORTER: Who would be your dream guest stars you’d like to see appear on the show?
GA: Steve McQueen.
JD: Yes, he’s dead.
GA: He is?
JD: Gosh, you don’t read the papers.
GA: I didn’t realize it had to be somebody who could actually appear on the show, but I would say Steve McQueen.
JD: I would love Angelina Jolie.
REPORTER: Do you think there might be perhaps any other USA network show crossovers in the future or would you like to see that happen?
JD: I actually would like to do a crossover somehow with White Collar, I think that the show tonally is similar to ours. I don’t know how that would work, but I would like to see that. I don’t think we would work with any other show. I think Psych and Royal Pains doesn’t figure into our tone.