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Burn Notice

From Battlestar to Burn Notice with Tricia Helfer

Although it's hard to imagine a TV world without Battlestar Galactica, all good things will soon come to end when the most popular SCI FI series of all time closes its doors in 2009. Since everyone has had time to prepare for the void, even the cast is looking beyond the Galactica universe to take their acting careers to new heights.

Actress Tricia Helfer, one of the sexiest smokin' hot space hotties of all time, pulls double-duty on TV as she winds down her role as Number 6 on the Galactica in Vancouver while also stepping into her new role as the mysterious, smoky voiced Carla on Burn Notice in Miami, the only link Jeffrey Donovan's Michael Weston has to getting burned.

Leading up to the return of Burn Notice on July 10 at 10pm on USA Network, The Deadbolt tracked down Tricia Helfer on conference call to learn more about her upcoming character and arc on Burn Notice and what it's like to experience her first end of a series while beginning anew.

THE DEADBOLT: Your character on Burn Notice, Carla, is described as a mix of evil and sexy, which Bruce Campbell likes to call "evexy". How would you describe her?

TRICIA HELFER: [laughs] Yes, I read about that. Well, I don’t necessarily see her as evil, but then you can’t really see the character you’re playing as evil or you fall into the "I’m playing an evil character" cliché. Carla thinks that what’s she’s doing is right, so I don’t see her as evil. I see her as just incredibly powerful and focused, so I think that’s what I want to try and get across. She’s somebody that you have to take very seriously. You wouldn’t sleep too well if you’re on her bad side.

THE DEADBOLT: How will it feel when you officially wrap Battlestar and leave Vancouver?

HELFER: You know, it’s going to feel odd. It’s funny because this was my first series, so I haven’t ever had a series ending before. And it’s all new to me compared to some of the cast members who’ve been on other series before. But I was talking to Mary McDonnell about it the other day, she goes, "The last episodes are always...," because we’re incredibly busy right now and the days are incredibly long and the crew is exhausted. And it’s funny because I’m like, "Wow, I thought the last episode everybody would be laughing and chilling out."

Instead we’re walking zombies because we’re so tired and she goes, "Yeah, it’s always that way with series endings because the last script, you’re trying to fit so much in there that there’s so much to do. But yet you’re really still trying to fit it into a normal script schedule." So while we’re in it, we’re just sort of so encapsulated with it that I think it will be really walking off of the lot the last and then it will really sink in or flying home to L.A. after the wrap - "Oh, okay. I’m really done." That, I think, will hit me more. But right now we’re so in the throes of it that it’s like, "Okay, I need some sleep."

Other Conference Call Highlights:

Tricia Helfer on the number of episodes she’ll be appearing in and the back story of her character:

"Well, I’m going to be in I think seven episodes of the sixteen being done. I’m in the first two and then the sort of season finale, and then I’ll be in 2009’s episodes as well. To be completely honest, I really don’t know much of Carla’s back story. Just as she’s mysterious to Michael, she’s also mysterious to the audience, and I think we’ll learn more about her as Michael does and the audience does. At this point I’ve only filmed the first two episodes, so I have yet to discover a lot about Carla myself. I do know that she was a spy and that she is now the public face of the organization that burned Michael. So she’s definitely in a leadership position and, at this point, pretty much ordering Michael around."

Helfer on finding new projects after being associated with Battlestar Galactica:

"I think one of the biggest things for me coming off of a show that is a very specific genre show, that tends to be more of what you get offered and the direction people think of you. For me it was really important to try and go against that and broaden my range or people’s perceptions of what I can do. So, Burn Notice was perfect for that because it has nothing to do with outer space. But I find it on par with the level of writing and the level of acting that’s involved. Battlestar - You know, I’ve been very lucky, it’s an exceptionally well written show and as well as Burn Notice. That’s one of the first [things I] noticed about it, I really liked the script. And then sitting down and watching the episodes, I thought it was a really well done show. And like Battlestar, how I feel it has kind of a unique take on the sci-fi genre, much more of a drama, grittier, getting away from the soap opera kind of norm for science fiction. I feel Burn Notice has that with the spy-espionage genre. It’s got a different unique take and I find it fresh and fun and exciting. You have absolutely no qualms that Michael can do what he does and you would completely trust yourself in Michael’s hands. But at the same time there’s a humor and a tone to the show that’s just really fun and fresh. So for me it was important to try and find a project that broadens my range and people’s perception of me."

On the difference between working in Miami and Vancouver:

"Yes, there’s a difference with the weather. Vancouver has been incredibly rainy this spring. I think we had our first nice hot day on Friday when I was on set. The umbrella takes on a whole different meaning. In Vancouver you’re being shielded from the rain and in Miami you’re being shielded from the sun. So your body takes a little bit of getting used to going back and forth and kind of adjusting, and the humidity really gets you in Miami. But they’re both oceanside towns and they've both got this vibe of fun and outdoors. So in that respect they’re kind of similar, but obviously drastically different temperatures and climates."

On how she landed the role of Carla:

"It was one of the very rare circumstances where I actually got offered the part and I didn’t have to audition, and that’s a wonderful thing for an actor. But yeah, I’m not quite sure exactly how it came about. But someone in the writing room when they were discussing - I think I read that Matt [Nix] said that one of the writers came in and they saw a press release in Hollywood Reporter that I had just signed a holding deal with Fox network and they approached me. It was a little bit of work on everybody’s part because I had a holding deal with Fox and I was currently shooting Battlestar Galactica, so there were a lot of roadblocks to get over. It was one of those circumstance where everything seemed to kind of work out. I had just finished a pretty heavy episode for my character on Battlestar where I was in every single day and then the next episode was quite light and I only had one scene. So they shot me out in the beginning and Fox let me out to do Burn Notice. And Burn Notice was great by consolidating all of the stuff from my first two episodes in two days. I literally flew down, shot out two episodes, and then flew back up to Battlestar. So this conveniently worked out and I pick back up on Burn Notice mid-July, two days after we wrap on Battlestar. Then it turns out that the Fox show that I’ve signed on to called Inseparable is going to shoot in the two week period I’m off between Burn Notice episodes. I couldn’t have asked for a more convenient and lucky situation."

Helfer on what she would like to see from this character:

"I would definitely like to get into showing some of her skills. So far it’s basically been the public face and the connection of the organization to Michael. But I’d certainly enjoy getting into a little bit of showing her skills and showing she’s on par with Michael, just as experienced and dangerous as he is. I’m a bit of a tomboy so I like the stunts idea. Although I know Jeffrey now says he’s not allowed to do his own stunts, so I doubt they’d probably let me do mine. But I do all of my own stunts on Battlestar and I get a kick out of it, so hopefully I get to do a few."

Tricia Helfer on whether she’s been retained to appear in the three Battlestar Galactica films:

"None of the actors really know yet. We obviously know about them, but we haven’t been in discussions or anything yet. I think they’re kind of waiting for them to be written and to see what the storylines are going to be. But we’ve heard rumblings around set and so forth, and I imagine most of us will be a part of them or at least one of them or something. But at this point, I’m not signed onto anything, no."

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