Gabrielle Anwar: ‘Burn Notice’ Romance Will Still Sizzle for Incarcerated Fiona

Gabrielle Anwar on Burn Notice (USA)

Life in prison on “Burn Notice” hasn’t been easy for Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar), who turned herself in to the feds in order to prevent Michael (Jeffrey Donovan) from having to commit the evil deeds which Anson (Jere Burns) demanded in return for not blowing the whistle on her. But Fiona decided if Anson had nothing to hold over Michael, the blackmail could come to an end.

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“Burn Notice” plots are notorious for their twists and turns, but put simply: Last season, Anson manufactured evidence that Fi set off three bombs, which ended up killing several people, when in reality, she only set off one, which harmed no one. But Anson knows that Michael loves Fiona — and Michael always puts himself at risk for those he loves.

But that works two ways. What Michael hadn’t considered with everything going on is the lengths to which Fiona would go to in order to keep him from crossing a line from which there was no return.

“I think it’s just plain old love,” Anwar said, when asked why Fiona would surrender herself. “I like to think that when there is that sort of commitment and devotion to another person that you would, in fact, sacrifice your freedom for them. I certainly feel that way in real life about my children, so that kind of love does exist, and I like to think that that’s what Fiona and Michael have between them.”

Preview Thursday’s Episode of “Burn Notice”:

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Sacrificing her freedom was one thing, but now that she is in prison, Fiona has learned the hard way — alone in the kitchen with her would-be assassin — that there is a plot to murder her. On this week’s episode, she seeks out a well-connected prison smuggler to find out who was behind the attempt on her life. spoke to the British actress, who was on location in Miami, where “Burn Notice” is filming its sixth season, to talk about the upcoming season of the USA Network series. Here is what she had to say:

What can fans expect this season? We know that you’re going to be in prison for several episodes. Does Fiona get to at least hear from Michael, or any of the others, about what they’re doing to get her out, or is she in the dark?
It’s interesting, having spent a bunch of episodes in prison, so to speak, there is this whole underground, where these prisoners, if they have the means, can get information, whether it be by trading cigarettes or other kind of favors. I became very keenly aware that there’s a lot more access to the outside world than you might think, even in a top security jail. So there is some connection that takes place between Fiona and the outside world.

Is there a specific scene that you’re looking forward to fans seeing this season that you can talk about without spoiling it too much?
There are some scenes that are emotionally charged, you know, romantic. Because there’s so much action, and there’s humor and bikinis, I always gravitate towards scenes of true emotional vulnerability and connection between characters, so there’s some rather endearing scenes to look forward to in the near future.

You play so many different personalities when you’re undercover. Can you talk about that, and is it more challenging?
It has its moments of being challenging, particularly when there’s different dialects involved, but I am very grateful to play these [roles] because after six years of playing the same character, it really does breathe a breath of fresh air into each episode when we get to do something that’s completely out of character. You know, Jeffrey Donovan, who plays Michael, gets to do it much more frequently than I, and I get a little bit sulky about that. We did in fact just shoot [an episode where] I get to play a Boston mobster, so that was tremendous fun for me to mix it up a little bit and incorporate different accents, costumes and hair and makeup. It’s just fun. You know, it’s like dress-up as a kid.

Watch the Season Premiere of “Burn Notice”:

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Have you had weapons training?
I haven’t had any formal training in much of anything, actually. But I did go shoot some pretty heavy machinery a few years back, because not only are the weapons incredibly heavy, but it’s very disconcerting to be holding something that actually is a murder weapon, that unless used properly could bring down an entire family, which kind of throws me for a loop. I’m an ardent pacifist in reality, so I’ve made it very clear to my children from the get-go that there would be no guns in the house. Now, here’s mummy going off to work, doing that very thing for a living. So I’m a bit of a bloody hypocrite now that I think of it.

If it was up to Fiona, where would she and Michael be in ten years?
They would definitely be together. There would be no CIA in sight, nor FBI, and they would be saving the world one hand grenade at a time.

How much research went into the prison scenes? Did you visit any prisons, or did you do any research on it?
No. Oh, God, what a dreadful actress I am! I did not. I didn’t, and I have no excuse. I figured that I would just feel what was going on in the moment. I mean, the set design, the props and all the extras — it was pretty realistic, I have to say. I actually had the most phenomenal shooting schedule while I was in jail, because they carried on shooting all the other storylines, and so I would work maybe one day a week, which is unusual on this show. So when it came time to be talking about Fiona’s release from jail, I was begging the writers to keep me in so that I could spend more time with my children. I think I may be one of the few people on the planet who was begging to stay incarcerated.

After six seasons, what has been your biggest challenge on this show so far?
The heels. Yes, my little toes are done. They’re completely left the building. They retired, I think, season two.

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Is there a piece of advice that you would share with Fiona?
I think I would probably just tell her to relax. I think, though, having said that that Fiona is sort of chilling just a tad over the years. I think with the lowering of her skirt hemlines, I think that her angst has been somewhat calmed, quelled. Let’s hope so.

Fiona is such a strong woman, making it in a man’s world of guns and explosives, and you just said you’re anti-guns, but is there anything about her you can relate to?
To Fiona? Oh, God, yes. Yes, I really appreciate her impatience, her intolerance, her disdain of men on many levels. And I love that she’s just so erratic and uncontrollable. I love all those things — all those things that are considered negatives about a person are my favorite things about Fiona.

Do you do a lot of stunts yourself on the show?
I do. I do do a lot of stunts, hoping to do less now that I’m not quite as flexible as I used to be, but yes, I do do a lot of stunts. It’s odd. I think it’s easier somehow. You know, when we’re coordinating the stunts, and our schedule is so tight and we shoot so quickly, it’s almost easier to just say, “You know what? I’ll just do the bloody thing.” That way there’s not these cuts of the stunt girl doing some sort of tai kwon do, and then me jumping in and putting the expression on my face that I kicked someone. It just takes longer and I’m rather impatient, so I just say, “Oh, bloody hell, just teach me the moves and I’ll do it.” Obviously, I’m not as equipped as the stunt double, but I give it a damn good try.

You talked about how you have your own idea for your backstory for Fiona, but is there something specific that you’d like to see happen for her on the show?
I think I would like us to do an episode in Dublin, in Ireland, maybe a parent is sick and she flies home and we get to see who she is. Just walking into the front door of her home would say so much. We know so much about Michael and his family. Even though there’s something to be said for the enigmatic idea of where she came from and who she is, I would love to go to Ireland and just take a little slice of her life and reveal something. I have a whole concept of who her family is and how she lived. Perhaps the idea that she came from a well-to-do upbringing, and so the fact that she’s running around with Michael, Sam and Jesse is not because she has to support herself financially by these means. It’s because she wants to. I think that’s an alluring idea.

You’re going into season six now, and that’s a pretty good run for a TV series. How many more seasons do you really think are sustainable for the show, and do you have any plans after that?
I think as long as the writing team can continue to come up with stories, and there are so many spy stories. We’ve all been watching spy thrillers for so many years … if we run out of our own we could certainly pinch some of those, but I don’t know how long Fiona can be running around in a bikini and high heels carrying a shotgun. I’m not sure if the audience is going to want to see me doing that into my 50s. Six years is a damn good run and I’m incredibly grateful for the longevity thus far. So I’m in for a little longer, maybe without the bikinis.

“Burn Notice” airs Thursday nights at 9/8c on USA Network.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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