The third season of Burn Notice is coming to a close, with Michael ready to go up against a mysterious convict from his past who wants nothing more than to get his hands on the former spy. While we're waiting for the other shoe to drop, we sat in on a conference call with two of the show's stars, Jeffrey Donovan ("Michael Westen") and Gabrielle Anwar ("Fiona Glenanne"). The two have great chemistry, and love to crack jokes, so we listened to what they had to say about the finale and Season 4 and kept right on listening, hearing the guest stars they'd like to see, the USA show they'd love to cross over with, and how Miami is running out of actors.
We've read 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 character's going, as well as who's going with him?
Jeffrey Donovan: 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.
So what can we expect to see in Season 4?
Donovan: Season 4 is actually pretty remarkable. I met with the writers last week, and we kind of broke down the next eight- or nine-episode arc. A new character is going to be introduced. I don't know the name yet, but he's going to be a young operative, and he's going to play a significant new role on the show. And 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.
You and Tim Matheson really play off of each other -- will we see Larry again?
Donovan: Yes, you will. Larry's such a pivotal thorn in Michael's side, and that gives my character great ammunition to 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, and he'll also return as Larry at some point in the season.
Can you talk about the evolution of your characters? Are you happy with where your characters have ended up? And if you were in charge, where would you like to see them go I guess in the season or in the future?
Gabrielle Anwar: Do you think we've evolved? I don't know where we're going, where are we going, Jeffrey?
Donovan: Well, I know from talking with all the other cast mates that we're very happy with where it's going. But sometimes Matt Nix and all the other writers keep us slightly in the 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?
Anwar: I'm quite happy with Fiona's enigmatic state of being. I don't think I need to know more about her. 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.
Michael's father seems to be a significant part of who he is, and we always get little bits and pieces about him. There's been some fan speculation about whether his father is still alive. How would you feel if he found out some new information about his father?
Donovan: Well, that device is always in play every season. I don't think we ever sit around and plot that Michael's father is going to come back. It's not something that we think about, we just know that the device is in play and we like it that way. I think the only shocking thing would be if Sam turns out to be my dad. That would be awkward.
Over the years Michael and Fiona have had a romantic back-and-forth, but now it seems they're settling into couplehood. Do you think that maybe it's a good idea not to give into those things, getting into a sort of Ross-and-Rachel, Dave-and-Maddie area, where you lose too much of the tension in the show?
Donovan: Fiona and Michael are a real relationship in as much as TV relationships are built off of tension. Let's say it's Bruce Willis and Cybil Shepherd in Moonlighting. Once the banter ended after a couple of seasons and they slept together, there was no tension. That is a typical TV relationship. Ours actually is atypical: we have had sexual relations, we have fought, we have gotten back together, we've hated each other, we've become friends to each other... That is the tumultuous relationship of their dynamic, and that will never change. So the tension is not about them hooking up, the tension I think is their love for each other, and how that's displayed every episode.
Who's your dream guest star for the show?
Anwar: Steve McQueen.
Donovan: Yes, he's dead.
Anwar: He is?
Donovan: Gosh, you don't read the papers.
Anwar: I didn't realize it had to be somebody who could actually appear on the show, but I would say Steve McQueen.
Donovan: I would love Angelina Jolie.
Would you ever be interested in crossing over with any other USA network shows?
Donovan: 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 don't figure into our tone.
One of the neat aspects of the show is that each of the three major characters is capable of assessing the strength and weaknesses of an opponent or an ally. Can you assess your own characters?
Donovan: Well, Dr. Freud, I would say that Michael is probably some sort of borderline personality disorder who grew up in incredible fear in a dysfunctional, hostile family. He ran away and escaped it, so he joined the U.S. Army to find a noble pursuit. Now, he uses all the things that damaged him as his abilities now to help others. I wouldn't even go in to trying to figure out Fiona.
Anwar: I don't even understand your question, so let's just leave it at that.
Well, what would Fiona's assessment of Michael be?
Anwar: His ability to decipher the characteristics of the problem at hand, you mean? That assessment of him?
Anwar: I think she finds it extraordinarily erotic.
Anwar: I do. I think it's foreplay, all of it. I think she finds him the most fascinating creature.
Donovan: Wait a minute, you said "I do," and then you said "she." Is this Gabrielle talking?
Anwar: Well, Dr. Freud, who's the bloody doctor here, Jeffrey?
Donovan: He is.
Anwar: Look what you've caused!
Your characters take on a lot of different personas to help your clients. I was wondering if you had a favorite accent or persona that you've done, and how you get the inspiration for that?
Anwar: I don't know how Jeffrey can come up with these creations that he does. It's pretty remarkable, especially since he's got such a heavy workload, and yet he still can create these fabulous side characters. It's really, really fun to watch. I don't have that in my repertoire, so I'm glad it's all on his shoulders.
Donovan: Oh, sure you do. You played the French character, you played a hillbilly kind of girl, white trash girl--
Anwar: That's it, we've seen all I've got.
Donovan: I think a lot of the characters that we play really do come out of a script. The writers are incredibly talented, and they really help us with specific dialogue and note and kind of character descriptions.
Anwar: Yes, you do come up with these fabulous little quirky things, like the chewing tobacco and the tooth picks; it's really fun. Those little tiny quirks make it so much more interesting than if it were just what was on the page, I think.
Donovan: Some people call those "crutches." I think those are crutches. But my favorite character of all has to be Michael McBride, the Irish character that I played. It's because it's the character that Fiona had fallen in love with, so it's very dear to my heart.
What would you guys say is the most dangerous stunt you've had to do?
Anwar: I don't like fighting with Jeffrey, because I always hurt him. Because I don't know what I'm doing, and he's such an expert, and I always manage to accidentally cause some damage.
Donovan: Yes, the most dangerous is either a bomb or something going off or a fight with Gabrielle. They're about the same.
Jeffrey, I hear you have an acting school here in Miami, is that true?
Donovan: Well, it's not a formalized school, but I teach seminars. I've partnered with a casting director who's been working in South Florida for about 20 years, Ellen Jacoby, and we created an acting seminar, basically a small little institute for beginners, advanced, and intermediate actors in the area. And it's really a selfish journey for me, because we're running out of actors on our show to hire locally. So instead of going to Louisiana or South Carolina or any of these places around us, I thought "Why don't we just increase the talent level of the locals?" So that's why I'm doing it.
We see a lot of TV shows getting the action figure treatment now -- Lost, Dexter... Would you guys be interested if the opportunity came up to be immortalized as little plastic--
Donovan: Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. Dexter, a serial killer, is an action figure?
There is an action figure of Dexter.
Donovan: Does he have a knife in his hand? I mean, are you kidding me?
He does, he does!
Donovan: Are kids playing with this stuff?
I mean, it's not on the shelves at Toys R Us, it's for the older collectors.
Donovan: Okay, all right, now I'm feeling a little bit better. I was just a little worried about that.
Anwar: I sense a little jealousy.
Donovan: You sense a little fear. I would love a Michael Westen action figure and a Fiona Glenanne action figure, and then I could blow them up at home.
Burn Notice airs Thursday nights at 10/9C on USA. Read up on all of the latest episodes here!
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