Jere Burns Previews Burn Notice Finale ('How Far Will Michael Go?') and Big-Time Justified Villainy

As it so happens, Jere Burns booked back-to-back runs of cable-TV villainy this year. This Thursday in Burn Notice‘s Season 5 finale (USA Network, 10/9c), puppet master Anson Fullerton will brazenly respond to Michael’s discovery of his endgame by asking his asset to do the unthinkable. Then, almost a month to the day, fans of FX’s Justified will see Burns return to the role of Wynn Duffy in a much bigger way than ever before, this time in partnership with a new  baddie played by Neal McDonough. TVLine spoke with Burns about his fortuitous twin billin’ as a villain.

TVLINE | My first exposure to your work was in the Dear John days, with Kirk. Was the smarmy smart aleck a pigeonhole you had to wiggle out from?
It took a little while to get looked at for the gritty single-camera stuff that I love, so I kept doing one four-camera [comedy] after another, though none of the characters returned to the smarmy level of Kirk, who I loved dearly and was so much fun to play. That character opposite Judd [Hirsch]’s was kind of golden, and Judd was so good. I kind of got spoiled by him.

TVLINE | Still, could you have imagined back then that you’d now be playing two nefarious TV villains?
I had played bad guys on a smaller scale prior to [Dear John]. I had just come out [to Los Angeles] from New York and Off-Broadway and Broadway theater, and immediately you start playing bad guys on Hill Street Blues, Cagney & Lacey… and nobody would see me for comedy. But in those days, the networks would always throw you a TV-movie [during the hiatus]. There’d be a woman-in-peril movie and people like Ted Danson or me could play a pedophile, or a rapist….

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TVLINE | Actors who plays bad guys tend to insist they’re not the bad guy, that their character believes in what they’re doing. What does Burn Notice‘s Anson believes in?
That this guy, Michael, destroyed his life’s work, and for that Michael owes him a lot. He can get Michael to do whatever he needs done, and if Michael has to suffer a little in the process, so be it. The great thing about Anson is that he knows more about Michael’s life than anyone, because he was part of Michael’s life well before the series started.

TVLINE | What is Michael’s play now that he knows Anson is out to rebuild his network? There’s an early scene this week where Michael confronts him, and Fi even takes a shot at you.
That’s Michael posturing, but it’s a posture he can’t really maintain. Because until the finale, he doesn’t win anything.

TVLINE | Anson compels Michael to burn some spies, which is the second most devastating thing, behind putting Fi in prison, to throw at him.
Right, right. But even if that doesn’t happen, Fiona is still not off the hook. In this world, people – including Anson, to an extent — are always having their integrity challenged. Like, how far will Michael go? What is the grey area? What’s legal doesn’t matter, but what is ethical? What rules do we live by?

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TVLINE | Speaking of unethical types, I hear that you’ve got a very juicy storyline this season on Justified.
It’s really good. We’re shooting [Episodes] 7 and 8 concurrently right now, and the whole season is kind of amazing. Neal McDonough is fabulous [as Quarles, a Detroit mobster], and he and I sort of play cohorts. It becomes all about oxycontin and the battled of the distributors down there in the South, and who’s involved.

TVLINE | Are Wynn Duffy and Quarles equal partners, or are you just his local muscle?
Initially when he comes down, I’m happy to let somebody else take over, use their connections to finance this oxy business, and let him think that I’m his lackey-slash-partner. I’ll give him that satisfaction.

TVLINE | Was it at all intimidating for you and Neal to basically fill the void left by Emmy winner Margo Martindale (who played Mags Bennett)?
No, because Neal is so good and the writing is so good, and that show is unusually collaborative. Nothing is ever daunting, everything’s exciting, and everybody is enjoying the s–t out of what they’re doing!

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  1. Amber says:

    I liked Wynn Duffy, I’m glad they’re bringing him back in such a big way. I freaking love Justified. So many TV shows are going down the tube (so to speak), but Justified remains pretty stellar. I was very happy to see Bloody Harlan not only get one of the top 10 TV episodes of the year spots on Time magazine’s list, but also get one of the top 10 shows of the year in their other list as well.

  2. George says:

    Tonight finale going to be great. Also can’t wait for Justified season 3. Season 2 made it TV best crime drama because it willing to be complex and character driven unlike most of crime procedural on broadcast.

  3. Michael says:

    Justified is ok just feel like their the same as every other crime show

    • George says:

      Justified is uses a subtle nuance unlike those other crime shows. Which have been taken up space but really pushing the genre forward like cable show The Wire and The Shield continue to do. Those crime shows are made accessible to a broader audience by not being intelligent or going for depth. Instead those use standard formula to tell a average story of the week. Thus they very little creative value and are basically ad revenue collectors for networks.

  4. Bob Tureck says:

    Burn Notice

    Watching the seasons last show the ending when Fi turned herself in to the FBI knocked me off my seat. Why,why, why would you write her off. Michael always comes up with a fix, always, thats what I love about the series. With out her or Sam and of coursr Michael there is NO show, it has to be all of them. I love the series so much. Can you give me a small hint on Fi for next season. it sure will make the LONG wait till it’s on again easier

    Thanks BOB

  5. Liz says:

    Bob, I seriously doubt the way they ended season 5 means that we will not see anymore of Fi. I think that is just a great set up for season 6 which will be about Michael and the team doing all they can to get Fi out of jail and they will def need Fi’s cooperation and contacts to make that happen. I am also hoping there may be a few ass kicking by Fi to other inmates, maybe even Michael finding a good reason to be put in prison with her as part of a strategy! There can’t be a Burn Notice without the perfect trio that is Michael, Fi and Sam. I truly doubt Matt Nix & the team will disappoint. Although that still won’t make the 6 month wait any less excruciating!!

  6. AP says:

    TO: Matt Webb Mitovich,

    Where can I find a pair of those sunglasses that Jere Burns (Anson Fullterton) is wearing in the photo above. I want to get this as a gift for a BIG fan of Burn Notice. Many thanks.

    • Nick vd K says:

      We think alike. I really need those glasses, do you know the model yet? it’s ray-ban for sure
      reply pls, really desperate.

      • AP says:

        Hi. I still can’t find out the brand/ style of jere burns’ sunglasses. He even wore them in the first episode of this season. Someone has to know. I don’t think the are ray bans. Michael wears ray bans. Hope someone can help and post brand/style. Thanks so much.

        • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

          Hang tight, folks…. I’ve got my best people looking into it….

          • AP says:

            That’s awesome Matt! Looking forward to hearing from you again with the answer. Thanks again. All the best.

          • Jon says:

            I’ve been going crazy searching for the “bad guy’s” sunglasses. Please help us out!!

          • AP says:

            We are hanging tight!! i sent out some feelers. one of my friends thinks it is
            Tart Arnel Greysmoke (or Brownsmoke) Fades Eyeglass Frames Vintage Eyewear Sunglasses which are also worn by Johnny Depp… IS THAT POSSIBLE??? PLEASE LET US KNOW, MATT!! We are waiting patiently! THANKS!

        • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

          UPDATE: The glasses were custom made for Jere/BURN NOTICE by If anyone is particularly hot to track down a pair, there should be contact info somewhere on that site.