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US TV Interview

'Burn Notice' Gabrielle Anwar Q&A: 'I want to explore Fiona's past'

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Gabrielle Anwar in 'Burn Notice'

© Rex Features / NBC

If you're a UK-based fan of US drama Burn Notice, you've probably been following the show's fourth season on FX. Digital Spy caught up with Gabrielle Anwar - who plays the sexy, gun-toting Fiona - while she was filming the show's fifth run.

In our interview below, Gabrielle reveals all about working with cult legend Bruce Campbell, her bizarre encounters with Burn Notice fans and the possibility of a Fiona spin-off film!

Some people say there aren't enough decent roles for women on television, so how does it feel to be playing such a character who is so no-nonsense and kick-ass?
"It feels excellent! When I first read the pilot script, I couldn't believe that a man had written my character. I flicked back to the front page where it said 'By Matt Nix' and I thought, 'Either that's just a woman who's ghost-writing or it's a married man who really understands his wife!' It was in fact the latter, I was happy to learn!

"It feels amazing. Even though I'm playing a character who is so kick-ass, there's still only one woman writer on our team. So even though we're taking baby steps forward with great roles for women in television, there's still a long way to go.

"And oftentimes, they will employ Lisa [Joy] - the female writer - to do a specific Fiona episode, which is very interesting to me. I don't know if that's something that they would even approve of my talking about, but I think it's a very important statement to make."

With such an action-packed role, do you pick up any bumps and bruises along the way?
"I go through five tubes of Arnica a week! I don't know if you're familiar with Arnica, but it's a homeopathic remedy for bumps and bruises. I have one in the make-up kit, I have one in the trailer, I have one at home, I have one in my handbag!

"[But] I don't like to make a fuss because the boys make such a fuss! If I find myself in pain, I try to run as fast as I can away from anybody else so that no-one can see me. I would hate to be in that same wimpy category as the guys, who I think get more injures than I do!"

Do you enjoy being on a show with such variety - you get to play action, but also comedy and drama?
"Yeah, I do. I think it's becoming a little more common, but there are so few shows that cross over from one genre to the next. I think it's been to our detriment as far as being acknowledged for any accolades, because I'm not sure if they know which category to even put us in.

"But from a creative standpoint, it's really fun to be crossing over like that throughout through the day, going from drama to romance to action. And then there's comedy, which I think we have to give most of the kudos to Bruce Campbell for!"

What is it like working with Bruce Campbell?
"Very funny! He has a very dry wit and he is the king of improv, so there's lot of surprises in a scene with Bruce. I'm always thrilled when I get to work, look at the call sheet and it's Actors No. 2 and 3 on the sheet - which would be Bruce and myself. Those are some of my favourite days."

Gabrielle Anwar in 'Burn Notice'

© Rex Features / NBC

Gabrielle Anwar in 'Burn Notice'

© Rex Features / NBC



Do you think Fiona and Michael (Jeffrey Donovan) belong together?
"Of course! They're perfect!"

What do you think is in store for Fiona and Jesse (Coby Bell)?
"I think they may have surpassed any kind of romantic connection. Fiona's commitment to Michael is so enormous that I can't imagine it could be derailed this easily.

"There was one episode where the two of them had a moment, but I think that is such a sweet indication that there's always going to be somebody out there that potentially could sabotage a relationship, but it's very seldom worth it."

You mentioned the show's lack of awards recognition. Is that something that bothers you?
"Well, I think it would be lying if I said it doesn't. When you're nominated and you're being recognised, it does such wonders - not only for your own career, but also for the longevity of a show. So I think it would behoove us to have some sort of a mention, but at the same time, if one gets caught up in that end result, then the disappoint that comes would be excruciating.

"It's reminiscent of the auditioning process. You have to focus on the actual work - the actual thing that you're being asked to read - as opposed to the end result, because it so seldom happens. It's not realistic to think that way.

"And I'm not sure how fair or legitimate these awards shows are. My father [The King's Speech editor Tariq Anwar] has been nominated for a number of Academy Awards and I get so excited for him, [but] he hasn't come home with one yet. So of course I have my own feelings [about awards] that are totally personal and biased, because I say my father deserves all of them and yet comes home with none.

"But it's actually quite good for me, because if he can't win one then there's no chance of me winning one! It's actually not high on my priority list at this point, which I think is quite a healthy attitude."

Gabrielle Anwar in 'Burn Notice'
Throughout the show, we've had hints at Fiona's past, but is that something you'd like to explore more?
"I would, actually, I would love to do that. In fact, when I lost the Irish accent after the first episode, I was so upset. I did everything I could to campaign for the Irish accent. It just wasn't something that the producers were willing to do because of how it affected their test audiences, which I found rather nauseating! But I would love to explore that Irish background of Fiona's. I think it deserves some airtime."

Sam got his own spin-off movie - would you like the same for Fiona?
"I don't think I'd like to shoot it in Colombia! I think Dublin is more my scene. There's been a couple of mentions of [a Fiona-centric film] but I'm not sure.

"The truth is, I play Fiona for seven months and then have this fabulous five-month break. The idea of playing Fiona again, during that break, when I really should be catching up with my kids' homework and I really should be watching a football game that my son is playing in, it seems like something that would be rather over-indulgent, to continue playing Fiona when I shouldn't be!

"We'll see what happens, but at this point, you're catching me in the middle of [filing] the 18th episode of this year, so I'm a little bit pooped!"

What has your experience been like with Burn Notice fans?
"I find that the women who watch the show approach me more readily than the men, which is quite amusing! A lot of women have had some strange and rather disturbing comments about how to inflict pain on men, so I usually try to prescribe a psychiatrist rather than my own pseudo-version, because obviously I'm pretending! But that's always been amusing to me, that women are very turned on by how tough Fiona is with men!"

Why do you think male fans are more wary - are they intimated by Fiona?
"I hope so!"

With Burn Notice being such a successful show, how long do you think it can continue on for?
"Well, there are so many spy stories to be told and there are so many people in distress who need the kind of help that Michael provides. I think it could go on for many, many years.

"I don't know how long Fiona can prance around in a bikini with a shotgun! If I continue doing some of my own stunts, I will need a walking frame shortly! So I don't know what Fiona's future holds, but I think the show itself can go on for a very long time."

Burn Notice airs on Wednesdays at 9pm on FX.
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