Bruce Campbell & Sharon Gless ('Burn Notice')
'Burn, Baby, Burn!'
With the summer half of 'Burn Notice's third season coming to a close with their mid-season finale tomorrow night (6th) at 9pm (est)!, and the winter half only a few months away, you may be wondering: What comes after that?
Wll, put your mind at ease, because we're making it official: 'Burn Notice' will be returning for a 4th Season of 16 episodes in 2010!
I recently had the opportunity to speak with both Bruce Campbell and Sharon Gless about this third season.
Bruce, I know that you played in Xena and Hercules as sort of a rogue who helped out the good guys as well. And Sharon, obviously you played Cagney, a bad-ass cop who also knew her way around bad guys. So I was curious how these roles may have helped to cultivate the characters that you play on 'Burn Notice'? [Gless] "Well, the only bad guys I have to find my way around are Jeffrey and Bruce. I mean, my job on the show is the mother from hell. I donít get involved in the heavy stuff like they do."
[Campbell] "Well, I mean, Iíve always enjoyed playing a little left of center characters. Otherwise Iíd be on a soap opera, you know. Whatís attractive to me was that these are real characters. These are characters who drink and smoke and make mistakes and have foibles in love and try to fix their mother's garbage disposal. Thatís whatís attractive to me. Thatís what got me into this show and knowing that Iím with four, three other kind of seasoned adult actors. Thatís always attractive when you know youíre going to be working with people that itís going to be worth showing up for."
Sharon, what do you draw upon from real life in your characterization of Madeline? [Gless] "Well, my husband said, when he read the script, chain smoking half the time. And he said, how lucky are you, theyíre paying you to smoke. So he said, wow, you do all the things with the cigarette. I said, ďWell, yeah, I already knew how to do that.Ē What do I draw on? Iíve never actually had children, myself, but I just connected with Jeffreyís character and every week itís different and as the show goes along, Madeline, my character, first sheís totally in the dark and very needy and very sort of just all sort of emotional things that are unattractive."
"And as time went on, Matt Nix said, ďSharon, sheís smarter than what I was writing.Ē And he gave me one clue, he said, ďRemember, he gets his smarts from her.Ē I said, ďOh, okay.Ē So I just took that information and it gave me and my character a little more confidence. But I donít know, how do you prepare for playing someone whoís manipulative? Is it built in? I donít know."
Well, aside from you two getting drunk together, how do you want to see Sam and Madelineís relationship evolve in season four? [Gless] "Well, I think Sam and Maddie have kind of a really cool relationship. We were given a chance to live together. That helps. I didnít tell Bruce this, but I really miss the fact that he moved out!"
[Campbell]] "And you know the one thing I should say, too. I canít speak for other actors, but I donít really probe the writers, I honestly donít. I havenít bugged them in three years about whatís coming up with Sam. Whether heís going to have a home or a girlfriend. I like to sit back, just like the audience, and let it happen. I get excited reading the next script, because I donít really know what they have planned. The season finale, I couldnít tell you sitting here right now whatís going to happen. Not because Iím lying or that Iím not supposed to, I donít know because I havenít asked, I donít want to know."
'Burn Notice' projects itself as a tutorial. It teaches you about different operatives and things you can use in real life. Have either of you ever been motivated to go ahead and try some of these things that the show teaches?! [Campbell] "No, and I donít recommend it either. I donít recommend that anybody build anything from any fictional show."
[Gless] "Right. Donít try this at home."
[Campbell] "Itís very important, do not try this at home for all kinds of reasons. I do know, as an adventurous child, we sent UFOs up that were constructed of dry cleaning bags over balsa wood struts with candles as thrusters. And you know, we could have set the woods on fire. We had homemade explosives, we could have blown our hands off. So growing up in suburban Detroit, I definitely had an older brother who was crazy and we were always mixing the wrong things together. Making gunpowder, and so Iím glad to have survived, actually. But now as an adult I can look back and go, ďYeesh, man that was stupid.Ē So I donít caution the separation of church and state when it comes to TV shows itís all fake, folks."
Madeline is an unsecure, attention-seeking, chain smoking hypochondriac, so I was wondering how much of the real life you is involved in that role?! [Gless] "Letís see, insecure and chain smoking, ... hi," she laughs. "But, your direct question to me was how much am I like Madeline? Madeline is growing, even though she doesnít take as many pills. How much am I like her? I donít know, I think thereís always a piece of me in everything that I play and you just go somewhere and you say, ďYeah, I can imagine that,Ē and you play it. Well, Iíve never had children but Iím, as the years go on in the show, Iím understanding every episode more about my relationship with this boy. Heís complicated, but Iíve not had children of my own, but Iím an actress, so I donít know how I do it."
So, word has it there's a kinda 'Cagney and Lacey' reunion coming up on 'Burn Notice'?! [Gless] "Yes, working with Tyne again. It was wonderful. And Iím not just saying that. Tyne Daly is one of the finest actresses Iíve ever met or ever had the pleasure of working with. It was just like old times. I mean they were different characters, but we know each other now and her mother had a great expression. Okay, her mom said, ďSweat makes a great cement.Ē And she and I sweat together for six years and we just know each otherís timing, we know, and we love, we love to rehearse, we love to work, and it was a real treat for me and I think for all of us to have her on the show."
Sam is often assigned the job of babysitting Madeline. So, is there a future where the two of you get it one, perhaps?! [Campbell] "No, I donít think weíd ever want the romantic angle because it would be too creepy sleeping with Michaelís mother. You know, itís too inbred! Weíve developed a familial attitude of almost more like cousins or something."
[Gless] "Yes, I agree. And someone had asked me that before about what if the two of you, you know, and I said weíd have to probably be very drunk and the next morning it would be really hard at the water cooler. Sex ruins everything!"
Interviewed by: Russell A. Trunk
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