[07/24/09 - 02:37 AM]
Live at the San Diego Comic-Con: "Burn Notice"
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

Please note: As a courtesy, please do not reproduce these comments to newsgroups, forums or other online places. Links only please.

Highlights from the "Burn Notice" press room:

Seth Peterson (Nate Westen) on the show's appeal: "As a man, you've got beautiful women. As a person who enjoys performances, you have incredible dialogue and witty performances. And it's a show that flips the coin: you take something that is a dangerous situation and impossible odds and you make it light and fun and it's joy to watch, for sure. Not to mention the guns, I do like guns and explosions. And Miami, of course, which is an incredible place to set everything."

Michael Shanks (Victor) on any potential resurrections: "It's been one of the most often asked questions I think to Matt [Nix] in the past year of the series. And I've been asked so many times. He's not wrong in this... certainly part of me would love for him undo it and make that character come back and I'd [drop back in] because that's a fun character to watch and a fun character to play. But, you know, this is a show, unlike the others shows that I do where characters do come back to life. I think I've died 17 times on other shows and come back. But he wants this one to be real. Especially for the last episode, the emotional impact of that, to then have the rug pulled out by 'oh, he wasn't really dead' and all this stuff. The character kind of went as far as he could."

Jay Karnes (Brennen) on if he still gets asked about killing a cat on "The Shield": "The story with that is Shawn [Ryan] called me when they were going to do that episode and said, 'I've got good news and I've got bad news. David Mamet's going to direct an episode and it's going to be really Dutch heavy.' Great! What's the bad news? 'You're going to strangle a cat in your underwear.' Okay, alright. So yeah, I do get asked about it a lot. Unfortunately I think more than anything else probably. So thank you for bringing it up. [Laughs.] That's nice."

Ben Shenkman (Tom Stickler) on being a bad guy on the show: "The thing I had fun with is - and I guess they're still airing this stuff that I've done so I don't want to be overarticulated - there's the fun of being a recognizable type of villain, the sort of devilish or Mephistilian character, someone who you know is tempting the hero to do something that we all know he should not do. So the fun of it is to try to figure out how to do it in such a way that even though we all know where it's going and we all know what his true colors are, you fight against that as hard as you possibly can. So that in a way, what I was always looking towards, whenever something seemed to be a mustache twirling moment... is to look like the soft sell instead of the hard sell... And in a nice way I thought that made the character and Michael smarter, just raised the level of that interaction."

Bruce Campbell on his wardrobe: "I don't even ask them what shirt they've got, they just bring them out. It's an endless supply. I think we've done about 150 different shirts [from] Tommy Bahama."

Bruce Campbell on Sam and Fiona's bickering: "That's what we do. Because I think she's crazy and she thinks I'm a loser. [Gabrielle Anwar] is so different. She's so not Fiona. I mean she's this very dignified Englishwoman, you know, who's very classy and cool. And she plays this psycho bitch, which is good. It's good to have that."

Matt Nix on character versus plot: "The funny thing is that a lot of people when talking about writing in Hollywood will talk about character and plot as if they're two different things. And character is this really good thing over here and that's what makes shows good. Like character, like it's some ingredient you put in a show. And plot is just this afterthought, this like mechanism that people [dismiss]. We're a very ploty show. We do a lot of stuff in 42 minutes. But I think one of the things that makes the characters rich is they have to do a lot of stuff. And like creating a bad guy who's a worthy adversary to Michael, who can have the plan that Michael has to go to the ends of the earth to unravel, well, that bad guy's just going to get more and more interesting as you go through the script. Because, wow, like how would he know how to do that? Well, maybe he was a doctor. And you know, jeez, we need to get from here to there, that's going to demand a really dynamic scene between these two characters because this character has to get so mad and he's willing to blow up that hotel. Okay, so what's that scene look like that gets you to a point where you're willing to like run out and blow up a hotel and then we gotta stop you?

And so what's exciting for us is making those characters, in the case of the ex-girlfriend of Michael's - her son's been kidnapped and she's in this really extreme situation where she needs to trick Michael into helping her. And so if you just start with 'woman needs to trick Michael into helping her,' that makes an interesting character. Well, how would she do that? Maybe she'd make him think that her son is his son! Okay, that's an interesting character. It kind of grows out of plot but it grows into character. And then at the same time, who's the bad guy that can trick this woman into doing this thing? Well that's a very formidable bad guy and that's how Brennen is born. Well, he's a badass. It just going from there."

Alfredo Barrios Jr. on why Michael always gets the bad guy: "He ultimately exploits [their] character flaw, something that is born of character and seizes on it and then exploits it and turns it on them. And that's always fun for a writer is to figure out it is both the source of their power and the source of their demise. And it's fun to figure out what is that trait that's unique to each villain that Michael can kind of seize on."

Matt Nix on the show's seasonal structure: "You know honestly I can be coy about it but I'm a huge fan of 'The Shield' and so was Alfredo. He was the first writer I hired on the show and we talked about it early on. And 'The Shield' had a great structure of this kind of overarching theme of like is Vic Mackey gonna get busted for being a bad cop, and it had these seasonal, like villains of the season, like a seasonal problem to deal with."

Matt Nix on the origins of Michael's voiceovers: "In the first outline that I ever wrote, I wrote, and you don't normally write dialogue in an outline, but you really couldn't get the show without it. I mean not even the first outline, the first pitch I went in and I actually did the voiceovers in the pitch... Part of what's interesting to me on the show is they're not voiceovers that take you [to another place], they're voiceovers about technique, they're voiceovers about putting you in Michael's head and helping you see the world the way he sees the world. We never get to use voiceover to say, 'and then this happened.' It means, it allows us to showcase a lot of what's really interesting to me, which is the fact that a lot of what spies do is counterintuitive.

You want to fight a guy, go become his friend. It helps to have voiceover to explain to the audience this is why we're doing something that seems exactly the opposite of what we should be doing. When you think about it, there are a lot of things we do you could never do on a show without voiceover because they'd be completely confusing to the audience. Why is he doing that thing that seems... you know, I've seen other shows, like, you're supposed to cut the blue wire and then we're saying actually, you don't cut either wire, the best thing to do is submerge it in ice or something like that. Well, without a voiceover to kind of explain that you need another character there for him to turn to and say it to. We really want to get you in the head, get you in his head and let you know what if feels like to be that guy."

  [july 2009]  


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