Bruce Campbell, geekdom’s favorite strong-chinned alpha male, has been one of the biggest reasons to watch the spy drama Burn Notice on USA Network. As the ex-Navy Seal, Sam Axe, Campbell is exceptionally cool whether he’s sipping mojitos on the beach or roughing up gang bangers. In fact, Campbell has been so popular in his role that Burn Notice creator Matt Nix decided to give Sam Axe his own movie: Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe. The TV film, which acts as a prequel to the events of the Burn Notice series, will air on April 17th.
During a press call for the movie today, Campbell talked a bit about filming in Bogota, Colombia, what it was like to play the action hero role again, and how Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe may impact the current Burn Notice plot.
On the subject of filming in Colombia, Campbell said that it was “challenging,” but that it made for a more authentic film – joking that most of the time movies actually shoot in Burbank, California.
When asked how Sam Axe is portrayed in the film, versus his characterization on regular Burn Notice episodes, Campbell explained that Sam gets to be a real soldier in the movie.
“Sam was once very confident, and capable, and responsible. I think Burn Notice sometimes portrays him as being a little more casual or lazy or whatever and in this movie… you get to see Sam being like a real soldier.”
Campbell then explained how the film ties into the current plot for Burn Notice, and why people will need to watch it to understand upcoming plot developments.
“Matt Nix has made it clear that because of this prequel, an event that took place five years ago, Sam Axe had a bit of a run-in with the CIA. Ironically, Michael Westen is now getting back in with the CIA, five years later. That might not be a good thing for Sam Axe… Sam knows a lot of guys, but his little run-in with the CIA might actually cause him a few glitches in the future.”
He joked that if you miss the movie, it will be “just like Lost – you’ll be lost.” When asked how he felt about being the leading man for a change, Campbell joked that it was “a drag,” saying he had to get used to playing “the hero” again.
Campbell gave credit to his director, Burn Notice co-star Jeffrey Donovan for doing a “great job” on the film, but jokingly called him a “tyrant” on set.
“As an actor, he’s very seasoned. He’s been around for a while. But as a director, he’s newer. He did an episode last year that I was in very heavily, and I got to work with him a lot, and we were like ‘Wow, you’re actually a good director.’ So, this came up, and he was like ‘Hey, who’s directing that Sam Axe movie?’ I was like, ‘We have a couple of guys on a list,’ and he goes, ‘Can you put me on your list?’
I was like, ‘Yeah, sure, whatever.’ So, later, it kind of worked out that he worked his way up the list and finally I encouraged everyone to support it, and we got him to do it, and he did a great job…and that’s the whole point. I’m glad that this is something that he did. It’s from the Burn Notice family. Written by Matt Nix, directed by Jeffrey Donovan. I think that folks that watch the show will find it very familiar and very fun.”
Campbell briefly talked about how the movie came to be, explaining that it was Matt Nix’s idea to “create something outside of the show, yet within the show.” Bruce said that it’s conceivable for Nix to make similar films about Fiona’s pre-Burn Notice days in the IRA or Michael’s last official mission with the CIA before being burned (though he was sure to clarify that he wasn’t sharing any spoilers about future projects).
In one of the funnier soundbites from the interview, Bruce Campbell talked about his screen presence versus his real life personality. For Campbell, one big thing sticks out: He’s not heroic.
“I’m very unheroic. I saved a dog from drowning in an icy pond once, but that’s the extent of my heroics.”
Campbell did admit that he is extremely similar to Sam Axe in some regards though, such as his fondness for Tommy Bahama shirts, and that, with the exception of Sam’s military training, the two are virtually the same.
Campbell couldn’t offer any insight into what will happen on Burn Notice next season (“The writers don’t tell us and we don’t ask”), but he did have one request for his character: “Keep him around. Just don’t kill him.”
In a bit of news unrelated to Burn Notice, Bruce talked about the possibility of a sequel to the cult favorite film My Name is Bruce, which casts Campbell as himself in a monster movie that both praises and pokes fun at the actor’s famous on-screen personality. According to Bruce, they have a script for the sequel, but they’re not happy with it yet. Bruce elaborated, saying we’re “waiting for a script that doesn’t stink. We have one, but it’s not really worthy of our fans.”
Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe airs April 17th on USA.