Truth be told, Bruce Campbell is happy to be the sidekick again. The affable Burn Notice costar was promoted to leading-man status in USA's Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe. The movie prequel, which airs at 8 p.m. CT Sunday, April 17, tells the story of Sam's last mission as a soldier five years ago, before he became a beer-guzzling Miami burnout case. Campbell says he had a great time making the movie, but he had forgotten how much work is involved as the leading man. "On the call sheet in Burn Notice, Jeffrey Donovan is No. 1 and I'm No. 2," Campbell says. "In the Sam Axe movie, I'm No. 1 and, boy, that's a drag, let me tell you. It reminds me of the old days: Show up every day and work all day long like, you know, a hero." How happy he is now to be back in Miami shooting episodes for Season 5 as No. 2. And how happy Burn Notice fans will be to get this Sam fix while waiting for the new season to begin in June.
The movie shows an entirely different side of Sam, doesn't it?
"He was actually once very confident and capable and responsible. I think Burn Notice sometimes portrays him as being a little more casual or lazy or whatever. In this movie, it's Sam's last mission, back when he used to actually like to work for a living. And that's what it is. You get to see Sam being a real soldier."
Any challenges to becoming a younger version of Sam, even if it's only five years?
"Hey, five is bad enough. I did a lot of hiking in the Siskiyou Mountains of Southern Oregon, behind my house, to get ready. That and hair dye. And I got to shave. The whole movie, I'm clean-shaven. My mother is so delighted. 'Oh, you look so handsome because you shaved.' That's all mothers care about."
Will anything that happens in the movie affect what might happen in Season 5?
"It might. Because of this event that took place five years ago, Sam Axe had a bit of a run-in with the CIA. And ironically, Michael Westen (the formerly burned spy, played by Donovan) is now getting back in with the CIA. That might not be a good thing for Sam Axe. Sam's the kind of guy who always 'knows a guy.' He knows county, federal, state, you name it. He knows a lot of guys. It's how he gets things done. But this little run-in with the CIA might actually cause him a few glitches in the future. So you have to watch the movie, not because of me, but for the sake of the story. If you don't watch it, you'll be lost."
Donovan isn't in the movie, but he directed it. How do you rate your longtime costar as a director?
"Oh, he's a tyrant! As an actor, he's very seasoned. He's been around for a while. As a director, he's newer. But he directed an episode last year that I was in very heavily and I got to work with him a lot. And I was like, 'Wow, you actually are a good director.' So this came up and we were on the set together and he said, 'Who's directing that Sam Axe movie?' I was like, 'We have a couple guys on the list.' And he goes, 'Can you put me on your list?' So he worked his way up the list and I encouraged everyone to support it and he did a great job. So thankfully my vision will be vindicated!"
Any chance that there will be some romance for Sam in the movie?
"Oh, he's going to get some. Are you kidding? He's all over it. Kiele Sanchez is my costar. She's from The Glades, a show that's also being shot in Florida, just north of where we're shooting. And she's awesome, kind of like a little hottie. So, yes, Sam is going to get some. That's all I can say."
Can you reveal something about you that is exactly like your character?
"I wore Tommy Bahama clothes before Burn Notice. I've always liked that relaxed style. So when Burn Notice came up and Sam wore Tommy Bahama, I was like, 'That's perfect. Just give me the normal shirts that I wear.' So I'm all over it. I could be the company spokesman. We did a list. I think I've worn 250 different Tommy Bahama shirts. I should be getting a truckload of free shirts."
And in what way are you most unlike your character?
"I'm very un-heroic. I mean, I saved a dog from drowning in an icy pond once. But that's the extent of my heroics. The rest of my heroics are written by writers and performed by stunt people."