SDCC 2011: Fall of Sam Axe Panel

Luke here (Mr. Nerd Bastards). After enjoying Comic-Con preview night as a fan, buying exclusives and ogling at busty nerdy girlies in costumes, it’s now Thursday and I’m in full-on bastard mode, reporting and shit. I’ve camped out in front of Ballroom 20, where a number of potent panels will take place, like ‘Psych’, ‘Game of Thrones’, and Showtime’s presentations of Dexter, Shameless and Home Land. Side note: I got here at 8 a.m., 2000 fans were already in front of me. I’ll be sitting in this ball room next to a pretty girl and a sweaty fattie until 7pm or so.

Anyway, the panel kick-off in Ballroom 20 is Burn Notice: The Rise of Sam Axe.  If you’re not familiar with ‘Burn Notice’ and this spin-off, here’s the skinny.

‘Burn Notice’ is a show about a spy of many talents, Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan), who gets burned from his agency and tries to find out why and who is responsible. With the help of an ex-girlfriend, Fiona Glenanne (Gabrielle Anwar), who is a former IRA operative, and Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell), who is a former Navy SEAL and semi-retired intelligence ops, Michael makes a living doing small freelance work to reach his goal.

The show has a good amount of action, and watching Michael pull a MacGyver to finish some spy work is entertaining and intriguing. Bruce Campbell however, is the REAL reason to watch. His natural swagger and witty chin humor brings welcomed laughter and coolness to Sam Axe. The character became an instant fan favorite. It only made sense for him to get his own TV movie. Burn Notice: The Rise of Sam Axe chronicles what turned out to be the last military mission of the former U.S Navy Seal and the expedition that took him from the jungles of Colombia to sunny Miami Beach.

The prequel movie has already aired on U.S.A Network. So then,  what the hell is this panel about? Well, show producer, writer and director Matt Nix and Bruce Fucking Campbell are here to talk about it, simply because it’s a Bruce Campbell venture and fans love it and Bruce knows it.

HIT THE JUMP to get a play-by-play of Bruce and Matt discussing  what went into the making of this show, Bruce Campbell idealism and a few funny jokes along the way. Oh, and a quick update on the Evil Dead reboot.

In a crowd of 2500+ (the hall is real fucking big), Matt Nix takes the stage. He talks about his childhood love for Bruce Campbell and the Evil Dead movies. He makes a joke about how on Burn Notice he kept thinking “How do I put a chainsaw in this man’s hands?” Matt introduces Bruce and the man of the hour takes the stage.

“Ladies and gentleman, let me bring attention to the elephant in the room. The rumors on the Internets are true. Official, here at Comic-Con…..BURN NOTICE will be back for season 6”. He followed by saying “Evil Dead WILL BE remade. Shut up about it. I may be the old guy at the end.”

Bruce then makes some jokes about Comic-Con, like how the bathroom is the highlight of the trip. Only in the restroom can you find the Joker, Chewbacca and Stormtroopers taking a piss. Thank god, Bruce makes a crack about fans with Evil Dead tattoos. He says everyone that has one is a loser and then says everyone should get one. Showers at hotels are FREE. At ComicCon you’ll see an increase of camo shorts, unpressed, black t-shirts, basketball shorts worn by people who don’t play basketball. Trips to the emergency room plummet. ComicCon fans do not die of heart disease. They are teleported to a higher plane.

“Why is Burn Notice here?…. Because its ratings are insane!”  Matt and Bruce then start asking each other questions.

M: Lets talk about about Sam Axe (Sam throws DVDs of the show into the audience). Watching some of your labor of work as a small child ( Sam looks at watch not wanting to talk about Evil Dead), writing a movie for you, thinking about characters you’ve played,  what of Bruce Campbell do we see in your characters?

S: I think every role has to be some version of you, essence of you. Ash “worst stupidest day” Sam Axe “me right now”.

M: What did you do to prep for the role? What special challenges did you encounter?

S: It’s a prequel. So..Sam Axe darker hair, less weight. I had to get tanned. Ever even been to Colombia?  Policemen in my vehicle at all times. I had to get tanned. Police officer followed me into tanning saloon. A lot of police in Bogota. NO issues. Country has made a lot of progress. Why Colombia? ‘Cause Matt wrote the damn thing.

M: I wanted something w/o Burn Notice feel.

Shooting in Colombia was the biggest thing shot there.  Shoot 3-4 pages a day. Shot record of 15 and a half pages of last day of production. Colombia crew wasn’t used to this but were enthusiastic. SFX crew couldn’t import gun powder. Had to use propane .1 guy in country made squibs.

M:  Writing a scene for you I hear your voice in my head. I’ll be thinking of my wife and it will be your voice I’m hearing .

B: Just let me sleep with your wife.

M: It’s not a Bruce Campbell movie unless its fun. Seeing you engaged w/ other characters.


S: What max Sam Axe different for Micheal Weston?.

M: Sam is a character is all about doing the write thing. When I think of Sam Axe, is the best older brother that ever was. He’s the guy that you want buy your side. Tell you when you wrong and those sorts of things, that where I go when I am writring the character. You bring that to the set, call it like it is, watch out for crew and cast mates. Very easy to write that. Micheal is always struggling with his darkside, more conflicted. Sam knows who he is, a grounding for Micheal.

S: tell me about casting, did you rely on Burn notice method.

M: I brought a lot of BN crew down. Brought people I’ve worked and trusted and familiar with.

S: How did Jeffery Donovan come to direct.

M: ‘Cause it was fun, Jeff liked the idea. Everyone secretly liked the idea.

*Bruce tells story of how JD made announcement to him. “so Bruce you”re doing your own movie movie. Yea good for you. I’m really excited for you. So who’s gonna direct?  Oh you got a list do yea. Did u enjoy working with me on that EP I directed? Well (looking at sandals) can you put me on the list? Bruce said “I dunno”. JD gave him a death stair and Bruce said “I’ll see what I can do”, even though it was already pretermined the JD would indeed. direct

S: He was a good director. Like bad news beears with explosion. Courtoom scenes, commented on how boring cinematic history, Jeff would act out how it should be. YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO, GET AT IT! We all did what he said. Didn’t have tip toe around , we’ve been together for 5 years, not unusal to be with this guy blowing trucks up in andes mountain.

S: What was it like for you?

M: JD had an idea about a mule, was worried that I was gonna say no. Wait a sec. were friends, we can just talk about this. JD and I will do that dance, and then realize they agree.

M: You wore a t-shir shirt the entire time on set when entire crew was in front of fire (fan says cause your hot).

S: Well its evil dead theory. If you stay misreable the whole whole shoot you’ll never get really miserable. All you need to do is ice fish once. I play hockey , so it was normal.

M: Crew like “eh, gringo is Macho.

M: How is your spanish?

S: Spanish is terrible. Talked about past in Mchales Nave and how he got pulled over in Guadalajara. Talked his way out of a ticket. Said “can I give u the fine and can u pay the judge”? I didn’t know rules of extortation. Got back in car and did hand swap. Guy must have called his buddy. I got pulled over again “said nada”.

Thank god for translator pro . On the set there was only so many who spoke English. “I guess I don’t need that”.

At this point, Sam an Matt present a video. The fall of Jeffery Donovan. Parody of how JD went crazy on set, with cast and crew telling mock stories of how insane he was. It was all fun.

Audience Q&A. *note “F” = Fan “S” =Sam and “M” Matt

F: Did do any research with real navy seals to prepare for roles?

S: 2 things to prepare Jack and Shit. Written at my age at that time, formal navy seal, not current.

M:  Big shout out to navy seals *crows applauses*

F: Even though you were star, were u # 1 call or #2.

B:*Gets up like he wants to fight*. This year they put security line not to keep you away from me, but me away from you!. JD was in was #1.

F:  Can you tell me a scandalous story on set?

B: JD and I spent a lot of time in charger, one time it got out of hand, or in hand.

F:  Is BN based on Bruce Campbell life story?

:B I am so disappointed in you. *Sam gives him a DVD*

HP fan comes up to mic. Bruce makes fun of him her. “sorry. Am I making fun your  most beloved character? While he’s dead now. Get over it!”

F: I have a question for Matt Nix (*audience laughs). What is your writing process and what gave you idea for BN.

M: short version, I always been into espionage. Interested as spies as people.  Who becomes a spy, what is that? Who is that? What goes into it? Writing process, I had one but now its just writing as fast as I can. Writing and directing back to back. Always a lot of turnaround. Wrote Sam Axe  script while in front of monitor shooting BD

F:  Will you have similar story for Fiona?

M: This Sam Axe was fun. It is something worth exploring, but what were getting into next story is everyones back story. Own movies are left with people with big bags of money.

F: How did you choose Bruce Campbell for Sam Axe?

M: Going through casting procress and were looking at list, talking and we down to wire. Network exec. said hey what about Bruce Campbell? Dude come on, you gotta be serious, Burn Notice needs real actors. I do not believe he will do it, hasn’t been in tv long time. Exec. said lets take a shot. Bruce said YES.

S: I liked it because it wasn’t a squeeky clean spy. Not just about a guy shooting a gun.

F: Micheal has become more lenient. Did you rub off on Micheal. Has Sam been positive influence?

S: *irratated*  I dunno. *Matt tells Bruce it’s important that he keeps a none hostile relations w/ fans.

M: On an  emotional level Micheal is learning to be a human being. Sam is a human being. Actors don’t know what their saying, there like puppets. *Sam say “I’m right here”. Matt says “I made him say that” (*audience laughs*


M: I think it’s important to say that in closing. Truly, I was directing the other day, bulding this big thing, blowing this thing up, were in 5th season, Wow this never rly gets old. Truly for me, THIS IS AWESOME.

*Sam throws more DVDS and t-shirts to audience.

S: We’re hear because of YOU

Category: Featured, TV