Bruce Campbell gets 'action hands' in 'Burn Notice: Fall of Sam Axe'
Bruce Campbell stars in "Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe" Sunday on USA Network.
"You just fear that you're going to get crippled," he says, "that's all, that you'll get hamstrung by something. "I did blow my hamstring when I was fighting a stunt guy on 'Burn Notice' a couple of years ago. I didn't want a repeat of that. So I stayed healthy for the entire shoot. No major injuries -- just my hands. I got 'action hands.' "
The shoot that Campbell, 52, is referring to is the one in and around Bogota, Colombia, for "Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe," a prequel movie to the USA Network series premiering Sunday, April 17, also on USA.
Directed by "Burn Notice" lead actor Jeffrey Donovan -- who plays former CIA operative Michael Westen -- and written by series creator Matt Nix, it takes Campbell's character, womanizing former Navy SEAL and semiretired covert operative Sam Axe, five years back in time, when he was still Lieutenant Commander Axe.
Also starring are Alex Fernandez, Brendan O'Malley, Chandra West, Pedro Pascal, Kiele Sanchez, Ilza Rosario and RonReaco Lee.
"It'll be tantalizing," Campbell says. "It'll give the fans something totally new to watch, because this is a five-year prequel.
"So we'll see if people are interested in watching different stories with these characters. We're hoping yes."
As the movie opens, Axe has run afoul of an admiral (John Diehl) -- unsurprisingly, there's a woman involved -- and he gets sent on a mission to Colombia to advise a local military platoon. Before long, Axe realizes that he may be on the wrong side in the dispute and that a group of terrorists may be something else altogether.
Before long, Axe is hip-deep in action. That includes escape and evasion, explosives, and firing guns, hence the "action hands."
"I had Winchester finger one day," Campbell says. "When you think about it, if you fire a Winchester, you have to put your hand in the section that cocks the gun. And your middle finger -- I'm a lefty -- tends to do a lot of the work.
"So I realized why Chuck Connors, in the TV show 'The Rifleman,' wears gloves. The rifle will tear your little fingers apart. So my scabs have just started falling off both hands."
At the same time he was dealing with the ravages of "action hands," Campbell also had to take direction from his co-star.
As for whether it was hard to have Donovan bossing him around, Campbell says, "No, he bossed me around in a previous episode. Last season, he directed one episode. We thought he did a good job, the whole crew, so when this opportunity came up to make this movie, he had expressed an interest in it. I supported it and ran it up the flagpole and got him elected.
"He's great with getting a performance, because he knows if you're dogging it. He knows if you're fumbling through something. He'll make you work until you get it. He's got multiple techniques to do that, because he's an actor. He knows all their little tricks."
Regarding tension on the set, Campbell says, "Between me and Mr. Donovan? I always call him Mr. Donovan during the show, when I'm acting with him, because he's No. 1 on the call sheet, and I'm No. 2 on the call sheet. So I call him Mr. Donovan just to put him on the spot, and I call him Mr. Director or Mr. Donovan when we're filming.
"I treat him like he's my boss, and it actually worked out pretty good. Technically, he was not my boss for the Sam Axe movie. So I could have been much more difficult, but I actually wanted him to be there, because I needed somebody to cover my back as an actor, and I knew he had that."
And there was the weather, which wasn't much like the show's usual filming conditions in Miami.
"We were at 8,600 feet elevation," Campbell says. "Daytime there was about 65, and the nighttime was about 48, so it was a little chillier. We had locations that were up at 11,000 feet, so we froze our butt off several times."
Sam also got to mentor the de facto leader of a rebel group -- a teenage girl named Beatriz (Rosario). Since Axe usually prefers the company of older women, it was a bit of a switch.
"He can be the father figure that way," Campbell says. "The girl has no father. She was orphaned and taken in by a group of farmers who were angry at a neomilitary group. They get branded as terrorists, so there's all kinds of trouble that comes in.
"So on top of everything else, Sam is sort of tutoring a 15-year-old girl."