Thursday, January 22, 2009

Last week I was able to sit in on a conference call interview with the great Bruce Campbell, who plays Sam Axe on the hit USA series Burn Notice. I got a chance to ask Bruce a couple of questions as well as listen to him answer some other great questions for about an hour. Below I've posted a bit of the interview. Burn Notice returns Tonight at 10/9 c.

The CineManiac: Thanks for talking with us today. You’ve been on a several shows that have only lasted one season. How does it feel to be back on a show that has not only been picked up for a third season but is a hit with viewers and critics alike?

Bruce Campbell: Ask yourself the same question: How would you feel? You feel good. I just learned that people like me in small doses. So whenever I’m not the star, like with Hercules & Zena, the shows run for six years, so I’m good. This show will be on the air forever because I’m not the star of it, so it worked out fine. It feels good to be part of a hit show, though, too. Honestly. The crew, any of them I think are very grateful to know these are people who work harder than any actor. They’re busting themselves 14, 16 hours a day and it’s nice to know that it’s a hit show. Because sometimes you do that and the show’s a dog and it gets cancelled.

The CineManiac: I was actually able to attend the Premiere of My Name is Bruce here in Austin. It was wonderful. Are you planning on directing anything else soon?

Campbell: I can answer that question after February 10th when the DVD comes out. Then I’ll know if anybody’s watching what I do. As you know, it’s economically driven. I would like to and I’m hoping to do another movie in the fall of this year.

And now for some of the other bloggers questions:

Q: How much creative input do you have with your character for the show?

Campbell: Well, every situation is different and Burn Notice is very structured. Matt Nix, it’s his show, it’s his concept, it’s his idea. So when I came on board, I’m going to give smaller stuff. You know, I might ad lib some stupid joke at the end of a scene or whatever. Or I might suggest a tone of maybe treat Michael’s mother more gently at some point. So it’s really for me mostly smaller stuff; the captain of the ship is Matt Nix and he’s also allowing us to think through scenes and if we want to throw in a line or so, he doesn’t have a problem with that. But I never show up on a set going, “Man, I got to ad lib today.”

Q: Are you at all surprised about how successful it has been?

Campbell: I’m surprised by everything these days because you never know. My basis for accepting this script when it came across my desk was I loved the fact of what it wasn’t. It wasn’t a cop show, it wasn’t a doctor’s show, it wasn’t a lawyer show. There’s plenty of stuff that goes on, but this is basically the human side of spies and I went, right, I can get into that. And I really enjoyed the fact that it’s a good blend of a show that does have strong main characters, and not a lot of them. It’s got four main characters. And that’s what the emphasis is. And oh yes, stuff blows up and every week there is a caper where you defeat the jerk of the week. But I think it’s mostly you watch these characters from week to week, and that’s what I enjoy. And that’s what appealed to me and that’s what keeps me interested in the show is it’s not really about the explosions, it’s about the people who are doing the explosions.

Q: Do you have a most memorable moment you’ve had from filming the seasons?

Campbell: For me, I’m just convinced one day that some bystander’s going to shoot me with a gun. And the reason why I say that is because my character Sam has a rifle with a scope and often he’s up on high rises and overpasses taking potshots at people. And sometimes you can’t see the crew connected to me, because they put me sometimes far away. And Miami has a lot of guns, and so I’m just afraid some do-gooder’s going to see me up there firing away and they’re going to save Miami from that criminal. And then Burn Notice will have three main characters.

Q: Have you ever been approached or are you ever going to direct any episodes of Burn Notice yourself?

Campbell: I’ve never really discussed it officially or had it posed to me. I’ve directed television in the past, but I think in this case it’s really, I’m in a fun situation where Jeffrey Donovan and Gabrielle and everyone, we have a good relationship and I’m kind of a bossy director and I’m not sure if it’s right for television. So I think I’m just going to step back. We have a good group of guys that’s come in and out now of men and women who have directed some really good episodes. So I think I’m just going to get out of the way and be a good little actor boy.

Q: Carla has been the main archenemy on Burn Notice this season. Is there going to be anyone else beyond her, her boss, perhaps, or another arch villain coming into the picture?

Campbell: I think I’m allowed to say very likely. Very likely. Everyone has a boss, so I think the season will prove no different. Because Michael’s being manipulated by someone who might be manipulated by someone. You never know. I think the layers are going to get deeper this season and it will start to get to the point where something’s gotta give.

Q: Burn Notice started out with being just that, Michael was burned. And then we go into now someone’s trying to kill him. How much further, what else could possibly happen?

It’s going to get bad because it’s not only you that they’re after, meaning Michael Westen, but they’re after friends and family. They want them all. And so we’re going to get into kind of a no mercy situation that I think is going to be very interesting and fun for people to watch. And it’s really been great; Jeffrey Donovan has some absolutely wonderful tour de force stuff. He’s just so good for the show because he’s an animal; he’s a really intense actor and he can hold up for a whole season, which is a lot of work for him. And it’s good, these next episodes kind of let them strut his stuff. And incidentally, the first episode back was written and directed by Matt Nix who created the show. I think this is his first television foray and I think he did a great job. It’s a really cool opening show.

Well there'a a whole lot more but I don't have room for it all. Remember to tune in tonight to watch the Mid-Season Premiere of Burn Notice tonight at 10/9 c on USA.


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