Burn Notice came back this week with backseason six premiere, and came out kicking! And later this same week, it was announced that Burn Notice was renewed for season seven, So that was a great moment to sit and talk with Jeffrey Donovan, the show´s star about what is going on with the show, and what´s next.
He talked about different things, from his directorial efforts to next season, from Sam Axe´s film to Michael Westen´s journey.
He also gave a huge teaser about a decision Michael´s making at season´s end.
Interview with Burn Notice´s Jeffrey Donovan aka Michael Westen
Question by Jamie Ruby from SciFiVision.com: It’s obviously got to be really fun to get to play so many different characters. Can you talk about kind of that and I assume it keeps it interesting?
Jeffrey Donovan: Yeah. One of the fun things that we didn’t actually realize when we first the show was that even though I’m a Burn spy and I’m trying to get back in, the kind of fun of the show is always to help the person that no one else can help and only Michael’s skills can solve his problem. So we thought it’d be fun if that certain cover ID just like spies had to do, were taken on. And some of the things that were asked of me were great. You know, if I had to do an accent or some kind of character it was always fun to kind of make that up with the writer at the time. And then over the years they kind of evolved into sometimes some wacky guys and sometimes some pretty sadistic guys. But yeah, it keeps it interesting.
Question by Anne Daly: The first one is who has been your favorite villain on Burn Notice and why?
Jeffrey Donovan: Oh, see now that’s really tough. Because, you know, it’s six years of actors that have come through here and I – god, just let me see. I have to think. You know, I’d have to say Jay Karnes. He played Brennen.
Jay Karnes, I mean a wonderful actor and very well known and he played for the first time – one of the things that I always say to Matt Nix and all of the writers is never dumb down the villain.
I think why James Bond is, you know, the 007 series always works is because the villains were always these mega intelligent villains. And I said when you dumb down a villain then you dumb down Michael.
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?
Are you going to do this? Well then I have the answer to that. Are you going to do that? I’m going to – then I’m going to do this. 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.
My Question – Guillermo Paz: You’ve had Jere Burns this year and John C. McGinley or Ben Shenkman previously. How can you top that with the next villain to bring in? Who would you like to have?
Jeffrey Donovan: Oh, that’s a great question. I mean they’re so good, I don’t know where the next villain will come from. You know, we’ve always done a great job in finding some interesting actors. Here’s the irony about the actors who play great villains. They’re the nicest people, you know? They really are.
I mean Jay Karnes, Jere, Ben, I mean you’re talking about guys who are just the salt of the earth and they show up and play such dastardly characters. It’s always fun. I know it’s fun for them to come out. Next season who knows? I mean I think we’re going to have to go, you know, raise the bar.
That’s certainly because these actors are so great.
My Question – Guillermo Paz: There are questions about where the story is going but a few days ago I caught a rerun of Sam Axe’s film. Would you like to go into any other of the characters’ back stories and what would you like to learn about them?
Jeffrey Donovan: You know, I don’t think so. I think what was great about the Sam Axe story was, you know, based on Bruce. You know, Bruce has such a huge following from all of his Evil Dead, you know, film stuff and he’s just a kind of a cult hero.
So I think that that was kind of interesting to kind of look into where did Sam Axe come from and why was he forcefully retired from the Navy Seals. I think that that was interesting. I don’t think that any other story would be as compelling.
I mean I’m sure Sharon would have no interest in going back and showing herself 20 years ago and trying to figure that out. So the back story stuff I don’t think is going to happen about anybody else. I don’t think it would work.
Question by Rainier Polland: Okay, great. Which medium do you enjoy most? Is it television or film and why?
Jeffrey Donovan: You know, I’ve answered this before and it hasn’t changed. I always enjoy what I haven’t done in a while. I grew up actually in the theater. I did my BFA at UMASS Amherst, I did my MFA at NYU and I got classically trained. I was doing Shaw, Ibsen and Shakespeare.
So when I got out of school I though that’s what I – my career was going to be. I got on Broadway right away and then I started doing a little bit of television and a little bit of film. It’s such a different world. It’s very, very technical what we do in film.
And then they’re asked, while all of the lights are there and all of the crew members and hanging instruments and cameras and directors staring right at you, you have to be honest. It’s a very difficult but technical medium.
With theater it’s a feedback and a reciprocation that you get that’s immediate every night. And now that I’ve done the show for 6-1/2 years, you know, I’m missing theater. And if I get on a Broadway show and I’m doing that for half a year I’ll probably miss film.
And it’s a little cycle. And I’ve been lucky to be able to do all three.
Question by Carla Day: Hi Jeffrey. I was wondering, now that Michael knows who burned him and he’s tracked down in the episode this week, his brother’s killers, what’s next for Michael now that he doesn’t have that driving force behind him to kind of stay in the spy world?
Jeffrey Donovan: You know, great question. I think what’s tough for this show is the title. You know, Burn Notice was not only an unfamiliar word to me but I think to most fans until they understood what the show was about.
And it’s kind of like calling the show Escape from the Moon and after the sixth season they got off the moon. Well what next? I think that the fans are going to love this last part of Season 6 because it focuses on Nate’s death, finding that killer and bringing him to justice.
And I think that you’ll see a more of a hell bent Michael, more personal than you’ve seen him try to kind of navigate the waters towards getting back in with the CIA and Burn Notice. And then at the end of the season, you know, it’s a bit of a cliffhanger.
There’s a huge event that happens between Michael and Fiona that will propel Season 7 which if all goes as planned, will be a very different kind of Burn Notice because of the trajectory but no less kind of dangerous for Michael.
But I think it’ll be more personal next year than it will be professional, if that answers your question without me giving anything.
Question by Paulette Kahn: You mentioned that this season will be a little more personal because it’s about Nate, also the fact that your mom isn’t really speaking to you even though she did save your life – help save your life. Might Michael makes some mistakes because the stakes are different this time around?
Jeffrey Donovan: Yeah. That’s a great, great observation. I think anything that’s personal and emotional will always cloud judgment. You know, one of the fun things I’ve kind of developed with Matt is in real life, with a normal person, you are in every day life with your family and that’s easy.
And then you go to work and that’s hard. And you show the strain at work because the stakes are so high. What was hard to kind of convince a lot of directors who were coming in was they would always want me to have kind of an intense high stakes moment when I was being chased or shot at.
And I always though that’s wrong, it doesn’t ring true. It’s the opposite. Michael’s judgment is so clear when he’s being shot at or he’s being chased or he’s trying to figure out a solution with a bottle of Clorox and a car battery. That’s all clear to him and it’s objective.
When he’s at home with his mom or he’s talking to his brother Nate or he’s in a fight with Fiona, those are the most subjective, emotional moments for him and he doesn’t know how to handle it.
So what I always said was he’s out of his element when he’s with his family and friends and he’s in his element when he’s being shot at and that’s kind of counterintuitive.
So this past – this last season it’s all about his judgment being so clouded and so subjective because of how his feelings towards his brother are, what happens to him and what his mother accuses him of. I mean those kind of – those kinds of stakes Michael has never really dealt with.
So I don’t know what Season 7 could possibly be other than maybe a different kind of trajectory for Michael which has to happen because him going after Burn Notice, him trying to get reinstated has played itself out. 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.
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.
But I think that one of the things we’ve never really explored and I’m actually – this is my thoughts, no one’s actually said this to me, is that the whole mystery behind Michael’s past and his relationship with his father, I think that’s an interesting road.
But I also think that we’ve never really seen how dark Michael can go when someone close to him has been hurt. 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’s even something deeper there. And not that, you know, where a show like Dexter where, you know, Michael’s a serial killer and will cut people up but for a greater good.
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.
Michael and Fi are as dysfunctional as they get. I don’t think them becoming closer or them growing apart is really going to affect what probably is an ultimate time bomb between those two.
I think that – and there’s nothing written or any story that I’m kind of referring to but I think that down the road these two are going to combust. I mean they have to because I mean she’s nitro and he’s glycerin and they are going to blow up.
But how they blow up is going to probably be very unique to them. Blowing up to them might be them getting married. You know? And but blowing up may be also them, you know, killing one each other – killing each other.
You know, I don’t know but I know that the more conflict that those two have I think the best for the show. I think when they become romantic and, you know, cute towards each other I think that’s where the show kind of gets boring.
So I think that you’re probably going to see more of a combustible Michael and Fiona in Season 7.
He’s lost his brother. The only family he has left is his mother. And I think he’s losing his friends. I mean I see this journey eventually compromising his friendship with Sam and with Jesse. And ultimately probably being the destruction of his relationship with Fiona.
But I have to. You can’t just keep a show going after six seasons and go yeah, everyone’s just the same. After Michael has seen his brother die, his father die, I mean there’s just too much death that has kind of gone inside Michael that you won’t be able to just kind of pass it off.
And I think maybe Season 7, if we finally get that order and create that, I think that’s what Season 7’s journey is going to be.
About Michael´s relationship with his mother:
I think that you’ll see mending in the latter part of the season. And I think that Madeline’s love for Michael is unconditional in the best way.
But what I think is the hardest thing on Madeline is not seeing Michael go back into the CIA or do a job or maybe cross the line in accomplishing some kind of mission. It’s when he hurts his friends.
And I think at the end of this season you’ll see Michael make a choice that I don’t think that Madeline will be able to justify. And but like her love has been for six seasons it’s unconditional and I think that she’ll try to find that compromise.
But Michael’s going to put his friends and his mom in a very difficult position at the end of the season.
What do you think? What´s the decision Michael Westen´s doing? Head to the comments to discuss. And follow me on Twitter for more Burn Notice scoop.