Jeffrey Donovan Shares His Favorite ‘Burn Notice’ Villain

Celebrity Q&A
December 24, 2012

Actor says ‘mega intelligent’ villains make his character smarter

Burn Notice
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I really enjoy “Burn Notice.” They always have such great bad guys. Who is Jeffrey Donovan’s favorite villain?
—Danielle Gregory, San Antonio, Texas

Donovan, 44, who plays burned CIA agent Michael Westen, agrees that there have been several great villains, including Jay Karnes as Tyler Brennen, Jere Burns as Anson Fullerton, Ben Shenkman as Tom Strickler and John C. McGinley as Tom Card, but if forced to choose just one, he would pick Karnes.

“One of the things that I always say to [executive producer] Matt Nix and all of the writers is ‘Never dumb down the villain.’ I think the 007 series always works because the villains were always mega intelligent. When you dumb down a villain, then you dumb down Michael. Always make the villains smarter than Michael, but then let Michael figure out their one Achilles heel.”

While the Amesbury, Mass.-born actor/producer says he appreciates that Michael’s foes are one step ahead of him, it also has its down side.

“Ben Shenkman in season two, who was my CIA agent, was just an amazing actor, and we killed him,” Donovan says. “I don’t know why we kill all the great actors. Maybe because they don’t want to show up me.”

While Karnes as Brennen may be his favorite, Donovan also has kind words for the others. “Jere is a phenomenal actor. He has such a presence when you work with him. Nothing, nothing affects him. A piece of equipment could fall on him and he’d still be right on target.”

And as for McGinley, he says, “You should just win an award for going toe-to-toe with John C. McGinley. The guy is such a powerhouse, it’s hard to keep up.”

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