Burn Notice: Interview with star Bruce Campbell
Ahead of the release of Burn Notice Season 4 on DVD (available 26th December), we spoke to star Bruce Campbell about the show and his long-standing career in film and television.
Burn Notice follows ex-spy Michael Weston (played by Jeffrey Donovan) as he tries to find out who within the government issued his ‘burn notice’, officially discrediting him and cutting all his ties to the CIA.
What can we expect from this fourth season of Burn Notice?
You can expect more kick-ass action! I don't even remember what happened in the fourth season, it was so long ago. But, y'know, every year things get more complicated and I think this is the season where we introduce Jesse, so we get a fourth main character in season 4 and he's a great addition to the show.
So filming on the fifth season has already finished…?
In March, we begin filming season 6! In fact, here in the States we just aired the final episode of season 5. The big, dramatic, jaw-dropping finale.
Why do you think Burn Notice’s popularity has endured for so long? These days it seems like a lot of shows get cancelled before they have time to find an audience...
Yeah, that's right. But we hit pretty quick actually. I think the formula is appealing to the average viewer who wants to see justice done, because our show always gets the bad guy. Eventually, you're gonna go down; it's going to cost us dearly but these guys are gonna go down so I think if you find no justice in the world, you can find it in our show.
Is there an end in sight for Michael's burn notice predicament?
Yes, but it's going to get more complicated because in Season 5, his ‘burn’ situation has changed. But it's good news and bad news: the good news is that you're not burned anymore and the bad news is that you may not want the answer to who did it. There are a lot of layers to this onion.
Do you know how it's all going to eventually end?
Only Matt Nix [the show’s creator] can tell you that. Every show has its own relationship between the writers, the actors, the directors and the producers and, in this case, we don't bug Matt Nix. We wait to find out what happens to us, just like any other viewer and I actually prefer that to "here's the overall plan, blah, blah, blah". Sometimes it's fun to know but, for some reason, none of us really know what's going to happen and we don't care. I really like opening every new script and going "oh cool, this happens". And, y'know, the other half of it, honestly, will depend on ratings. If the ratings are strong, we'll figure out another season of storylines, but if the ratings are low...everyone will probably get killed in a horrible accident.
Before the fourth season, we got to see a one-off feature-length TV movie featuring your character, entitled The Fall Of Sam Axe. Are there any plans for more solo ventures?
Well, that was really just to test the waters and see what people thought of expanding different characters. We filmed that about a year ago and it did well here in the States when it aired. If it was a pilot, they said they would have greenlit it as a series. So that did fine, and I think we're going to put it on the backburner and see if further down the road we want to do another one. I think we should do one for each character; of how Fiona got to Miami, how Michael Weston got burned - what mission was he on before he got burned? So I think there's plenty of room for back story but it depends on whether the other actors wanted to do that.
And it was Jeffrey Donovan who directed that movie...
Yeah, I lobbied to get him because he had directed an episode of Burn Notice and everyone loved him - they all thought he did a great job and he had never really directed television before. So when the time came to do the movie, I said "let's get Donovan - let's get a guy who would actually have something at stake here".
What was it like taking direction from your co-star on set?
Oh, he's awesome. He's a very sharp director. Anyone who has their act together, I'll take direction from. And he's very tough – he's a tough director. And I love that.
You've directed films and TV in the past. Do you think you'll ever direct an episode of Burn Notice?
Because I have a very good relationship with Jeffrey Donovan and I'm not about to start bossing him around.
You obviously have a very long career in both TV and films. Do you have a preference between the two?
I like a little bit of both. I like television because of how fast it is. We shoot 11 pages of script a day sometimes, which is twice what a movie would do in the course of a day.
You shot to fame as Ash in the Evil Dead film trilogy. What can you tell us about the remake you’re currently working on?
We're hot and heavy into pre-production right now. It's a fast-moving freight train. We have the script down to what we think is a really good draft.
You've said before that it won't feature your character Ash...
No, there's no character Ash. None of the original characters are in it. The original Evil Dead was about five kids who come across an evil, scary book and this is just going to be an updated version of that. This is a whole new story and Sam Raimi [original director], myself and Rob Tapert [original producer] are very involved in it so we're not really playing into any of the worries or anger that the Evil Dead fans have. We appreciate how they think the franchise is but, y'know, it's not their franchise. This our movie, so we care whether it comes out good or not. And we just hope that, at the end of the day, people will say that it freaked them out as a horror movie.
Can we expect to see you make a cameo in the film?
I’m not sure at this point what the plan is because it's all about schedules and they're filming while I'm filming. My day job unfortunately comes first.
Do you think, if the film does well, you'll go on to remake the other two films in the trilogy?
If we succeed with this one, we'll consider the other two. If this one sucks eggs, there's no point in going on.
Thanks to the Evil Dead films and your subsequent work, you seem to have earned yourself status as a bit of a cult icon. How does that affect the choices you make in your career?
I really don't see myself as anything other than an employed actor. That's all I've ever worked for. The labels are really for all the experts to do and they can call me whatever they want. I welcome any label other than ‘home-wrecker’ or ‘criminal’.
Burn Notice Season 4 is available on DVD on 26th December.,