Recommended second chance
Gabrielle Anwar plays burnt spy Michael Westen’s (Jeffrey Donovan) feisty, gun-toting girlfriend in Miami-based action drama Burn Notice. Gabrielle, whose credits include Scent Of A Woman co-starring Al Pacino and Chris O’Donnell, chats to TV Choice…
Michael and Fiona have a more traditional relationship in this fifth season of Burn Notice. How have fans reacted in America where the series has already been shown?
It was quite shocking for some. At least the women that I have spoken to about it have been thrilled because I think in most female minds living together, for example, is one step closer to marriage which is what everybody seems to want to conclude a relationship. I don’t think that’s on Fiona’s radar. So I’ve had a lot of reaction to that — how thrilled they are that Fiona and Michael are co-habiting at this point. But I think that their idea of happily ever after is certainly not Fiona’s idea of happily ever after.
What’s the experience of filming Burn Notice in Miami like?
I’m still defrosting from a childhood in England, so anything tropical turns me on. I can’t imagine vacationing anywhere other than the tropics, because why would you having grown up in England? I’m raising my children here and we’re basically in our bikinis all day long, which is the quintessential dream life when you’ve grown up in England. It’s just the polar opposite of what life is like there. Miami is such a traditional town but it is lacking in certain things that I would like to include in the raising of my children. I had settled down into a mountainous community in California for 20 years having left England, so this is not exactly what I had planned, but I can tell you that I’m so happy to be spending my days shooting Burn Notice here.
That’s not bad then, from Middlesex to Miami!
Middlesex to Miami. I love it. It’s so true. Who would have thought? And the fact that we are not on a tropical island means there’s a wholefoods on the corner of the street where I can buy organic produce. It’s a little slice of heaven.
You were 19 when you moved to America, so what do you miss most about England?
I miss Marks & Spencer more than life itself, and the top floor of Harvey Nichols. Also English pastries, and being able to take a ride on a horse through the countryside without falling off a mountain. Here in Florida there’s really nowhere to ride unless you want to ride around in a ring. I miss people wearing Wellington boots, and a lot of things that are reminiscent of my childhood, like sticky toffee pudding. I do visit occasionally and I do miss England.
We read a quote where you said the old thespian adage of there are no good female roles still holds true. Doesn’t Fiona in Burn Notice buck the trend?
She is a fantastic character to play and I’m thrilled to bits. Unfortunately there is only one female writer on our team of writers for the show, so that right there demonstrates my sentiment behind that statement, that for every great female role there are 25 great male roles. It’s still true that there are few great roles for women. We’ve become so objectified that anything other than a superficial concept of women, in my opinion, is considered unattractive. One of the things that I love about playing Fiona is that she really does embody and embrace even the ugly side of being a woman. We have multiple facets and they are very rarely portrayed accurately in my opinion.
You’ve made movies and are now in a long-running TV show. Do you have a preference?
I like the longevity and the stability of TV. I don’t particularly enjoy the pace of our scheduling because it’s actually quite crippling creatively, and it’s exhausting for the entire crew. It’s been a long time since I was involved in a significant budget feature film, so I miss the indulgences of that for sure. You’re spoilt rotten. Who doesn’t love that? I’d be lying to say that I like to motor myself.
The luxury of time is certainly lacking on TV, particularly on Burn Notice, and I do miss that from the big budget feature days. Even with independent films your shooting schedule is very limited. The days of huge, big budgeted studio pictures are very numbered for me. Obviously they are still being made but I haven’t been invited to play! (Laughs).