Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe

Since Bruce Campbell has been stealing scenes right and left since BURN NOTICE premiered five years ago, it’s only fitting that his character, the perpetually cool Sam Axe, gets his own movie, BURN NOTICE: THE FALL OF SAM AXE, airing on USA Sunday, April 17.

A prequel, the film takes place in 2005 when Lieutenant Commander Sam Axe is sent to Colombia to advise a local military platoon only to learn that not everything is what it seems and that he might be helping the wrong people. RonReaco Lee (The Good Guys), Kiele Sanchez (The Glades), John Diehl (The Shield) and Chandra West (The Gates) also star, and Jeffrey Donovan–Michael Westen himself–directed from a script by Burn Notice creator Matt Nix.

Daemon’s TV was there when Bruce talked about how Sam Axe in the movie compares to Sam Axe in the show, shooting in Colombia, what the movie means for Burn Notice season five, and what’s going on with the My Name is Bruce sequel.

On why do a prequel

Because Michael, Fiona, and Sam all have rich, dark pasts that are frequently referenced on Burn Notice, a prequel not only makes logical sense, but it also opens up new avenues for the show. Bruce explained. “This is Matt Nix’s idea. This is his way of coming up with something outside the show yet within the show. I was all for it and the opportunity came up for Jeffrey Donovan to direct it and it was like, ‘This is perfect-do a prequel.'”

While Sam is the first character to get the prequel treatment, he probably won’t be the last. ” You could conceivably do Fiona before she got to Miami-doing an ass- kicking with her taking people out and creating some mayhem and you can also do Michael Westen’s last mission before he got burned. There’s a lot of backstory you can do. That’s the idea behind this movie-to expand the show.”

On Jeffrey Donovan directing

Jeffrey Donovan was not the obvious choice to direct The Fall of Sam Axe, so he had to lobby for it. “As an actor, [Jeffrey’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.”

Bruce got behind the idea of Jeffrey directing and is very glad he did because it helped give the film a true Burn Notice feel. “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, so thankfully my vision will be vindicated. He did a great job and 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 folks that watch the show will find it very familiar and very fun.”

On Sam Axe

We know Sam as semi-retired, snarky, and always on the lookout for a good, rich woman and cold beer, but we’re going to see a different side in the movie. “Sam was once very confident, capable, responsible, and show-uppable. I think Burn Notice sometimes portrays him as being a little more casual or lazy or whatever and in this movie it’s five years ago and his last mission when he used to actually work for a living. You get to see Sam as a real soldier.”

We’ll also see Sam shaved; something he said thrilled his mother. Perhaps not coincidentally, there is some romance for Sam in the film. “Oh, he’s gonna get some. Are you kidding? He’s all over it. Kiele Sanchez is my co-star and in the movie she’s great and in reality she’s kind of like a little hottie, so Sam’s gonna get some. That’s all I can say.”

Unfortunately for Sam, Bruce said because there are five years between the movie and show, it’s unlikely Kiele will ever appear on Burn Notice so he can get some more, but added that “you never know.”

When Bruce first learned about Sam’s Tommy Bahama wardrobe after being cast, his reaction was “That’s perfect. Just give me the normal shirts that I wear.” He said that he has so far worn 250 Tommy Bahama shirts.

Bruce joked that unlike Sam, he is very un-heroic. “I saved a dog from drowning in an icy pond once, but that’s the last of my heroics. The rest are written by writers and performed by stunt people.”

On shooting in Colombia

The film was shot on location in Colombia, which Bruce called “challenging but therefore authentic. Normally what happens in Hollywood is they say it takes place in Colombia and shoot it in Burbank, so it was kind of refreshing to go to the actual place, but as a result, it was very difficult.”

Bruce said the most challenging thing about the shoot had nothing to do with the location. Instead, it was being a leading man again. “Jeffrey Donovan is number one on the call sheet for Burn Notice and I’m number two. On Sam Axe, I’m number one, and boy that’s a drag, let me tell you. It reminds me of the old days where you had to show up every day and work all day long and be the hero, so I had to get back into that mode.”

On the prequel’s impact on Burn Notice season five

While The Fall of Sam Axe is a stand-alone movie, its events become canon in the Burn Notice universe. “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 Axe normally knows a guy who knows a guy, be it county, federal, or state–Sam knows a lot of guys, but his little run-in with the CIA might just cause him a few glitches in the future.”

Because Nix has also said that missing the Sam Axe movie means viewers won’t fully understand some upcoming incidents, Bruce teased that if we don’t watch his movie, season five “will be like Lost-you’ll be lost.”

Unfortunately, Bruce had nothing concrete to tease about season five. “The writers don’t tell us and we don’t ask.”

When asked what he would like to see for Sam in the future, Bruce’s only request was, “Just keep him around. Don’t kill him or hit him with a bus.”

On a sequel to My Name is Bruce

There are still plans for a sequel to Bruce’s cult horror-comedy film My Name is Bruce, but it won’t be for at least another year. Bruce gave a good reason, though. “We’re waiting for a script that doesn’t stink. We have one, but it’s not really worthy of our fans, so we’re going to work on that for the next year or so, but we are applying ourselves.”

Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe airs on USA Sunday, April 17 at 9pm eastern/8 central.

The fifth season of Burn Notice premieres on USA Thursday, June 23 at 9pm eastern/8 central.

You can read all our Burn Notice, including The Fall of Sam Axe, coverage here.

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