Tricia Helfer Makes Fans Melt on USA’s ‘Burn Notice’

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CHICAGOTricia Helfer would have been famous just for her sexy and stellar work on the Sci-Fi Channel’s “Battlestar Galactica” but she’s also become an essential part of the hit USA Network show “Burn Notice” as the mysterious and deadly Carla, the woman who holds the secrets to Michael’s (Jeffrey Donovan) past and future.

The gorgeous Helfer recently sat down for an informative press conference about the upcoming season finale of “Burn Notice” and series finale of “Battlestar Galactica”. She revealed information about her start on “Burn” and whether or not she’s on board for the next one. Bad news Carla fans. “I’m not on board for next season, no,” Tricia Helfer reveals. “As I like to say, I was the baddie of the second season, so yes, my last two episodes are this week and the finale, March 5th.”

Jeffrey Donovan as Michael Westen, Tricia Helfer as Carla
Jeffrey Donovan as Michael Westen, Tricia Helfer as Carla
Photo credit: Glenn Watson

Of course, let’s not jump ahead to the end. The beginning came when Tricia Helfer was offered the job. She was up in Vancouver filming “Battlestar Galactica” and was approached by her agent or her manager about the job. “I actually hadn’t seen it, the show, because being in Canada a lot, in Vancouver filming Battlestar, Burn Notice doesn’t air up there yet, unfortunately. So they sent me DVDs and I was hooked from the first episode and gladly signed on to join in for the second season.”

Tricia Helfer
Tricia Helfer
Photo credit: Glenn Watson

We noticed it as viewers, but Helfer and Donovan had instant chemistry on the show. As for the rest of the cast, “I met Gabrielle and I met Bruce and worked with him a little bit. Bruce is just such an easy going guy it’s impossible not to get along with him, and Gabrielle is really sweet. Jeffrey had actually emailed me prior to going down there the first time to welcome me and say he was excited that I was joining the show. So, I went down knowing it was going to be a great cast to work with and they didn’t let me down, they were just really wonderful to work with.”

When Helfer joined the cast of “Burn Notice,” she didn’t really know her character arc and that made the part a little difficult for the actress. “With Carla, I didn’t know who Carla worked for,” Helfer says. “I didn’t know who management was the entire time I filmed, so you’re just kind of filling in the blanks yourself, but at the same time you don’t really want to say, okay, this is who it is or make too strong of a back story yourself in case it is revealed. The hardest thing is Carla was pretty much as elusive to me as the actor as she is to the audience.”

But she’s not elusive any more. Helfer hinted at the resolution fans can expect with the last two episodes of this season of “Burn Notice,” “I think the first two episodes back from the midseason hiatus definitely showed that Carla had been taken by surprise a bit, she’s been rattled, which she’s not used to. It definitely comes to a culmination in the finale where she’s been trying to get information from Michael Westen about who tried to kill him, who tried to blow up his apartment, and it really comes to a culmination with management breathing down her back. And she’s put her neck on the line in terms of vouching for Michael Westen and Michael hasn’t really fully come up with anything to help her out, so it comes to a culmination point in the finale.”

And what will that culmination point be? Will we finally meet the management that has been pulling everyone’s strings, including Carla’s? “You’re definitely going to get a big clue, a big hint in the finale about who management is. I won’t say for sure if you’re going to find out who, what the organization is, but there will be another piece to the puzzle and you will definitely meet Carla’s higher ups, you will meet management, yes.”

Helfer seems a little concerned about typecasting after playing two tough women on two hit cable shows. As she says, “I’d rather play an ass-kicking destroyer or a super strong spy or agent than some meek, vulnerable character. But it’s definitely, I don’t want to get typecast as one thing, and that’s certainly some of the other things I’ve been doing in hiatus, doing other roles, although I have one coming up where I’m an ass-kicking spy, so I don’t know about that. I don’t know how well my not being typecast is going, but they’re great shows. I’m super happy to be part of them. I think it’s important as I go to some of my next jobs maybe are a different take, a different type of character, but they’re certainly fun characters to play. They’re smart. They’re strong. Who wouldn’t want to play a strong female character?”

Jeffrey Donovan as Michael Westen, Tricia Helfer as Carla
Jeffrey Donovan as Michael Westen, Tricia Helfer as Carla
Photo credit: Glenn Watson

Of course, unless you’ve been under a rock, you know that “Battlestar Galactica” is airing its last episode soon. Helfer called the shooting of the last episode “intense”. “Not only do emotions run really high because obviously this is the last time you’re working with a lot of these people and you become like family over five years, but it’s also very intense because last episodes tend to come in very long. I think we had a four hour script in a two hour time frame to shoot that we were maybe given a couple of extra days. So we really shot incredibly long hours and everybody was kind of like zombies at the end of it. So it’s intense, emotions are really high, but it’s also a wonderful feeling, it’s a great feeling of accomplishment and camaraderie, too.”

Tricia Helfer
Tricia Helfer
Photo credit: Glenn Watson

Helfer has worked with some great people and sees similarities between actors like Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell on “Battlestar Galactica” and Jeffrey Donovan and Gabrielle Anwar on “Burn Notice” because they all bring so much professionality to their work. “It was just an incredible experience to be able to work with them. For all of the younger cast on Battlestar it was wonderful to have these two kind of helm the show and you got to really see what two people who are so talented, how their passion to the work goes and how much work they put into it and how much dedication. It was very similar going down to Burn Notice and you have that same vibe with people that are just—they love the show they’re working on. They’re dedicated to it and they’re really hard workers. So there really wasn’t that much difference, aside from, obviously, the show itself and the type of show.”

It’s hard to believe, but Helfer even leaves a door open for a “BSG” return, saying that she had never really thought about the possiblity of a future spin-off or return of the series. “Without giving away the finale, I guess there sort of could be. It’s definitely a closing in one respect, but now that you mentioned it, there could possibly be a spin-off. I don’t expect there to be. I really don’t expect there to be and I don’t think that’s their intention, but I guess you can never say never in this business.”

With “Battlestar Galactica” ending and Helfer’s character on “Burn Notice” going away, where does Tricia Helfer go from here? “Well, I’m right in the middle of pilot season right now. It’s my first year in five years of being available because of Battlestar now being finished. I got Battlestar in my first year of acting, so definitely being on a show, it’s amazing to be on a show, you want to be on a show, but it also limits what you can do with your hiatus when you’re shooting 22 episodes a year of a show.”

“Now is really the first pilot season and I’m actually in negotiations right now with a pilot that I’m quite excited about, but it’s a little too early to stake my claim on it yet until everyone has signed on the dotted line. But yes, I’m looking, as one of the callers earlier asked about varying roles and I’m definitely looking for my next project to be something that’s a little bit different. First off, I’ll be playing a human and not a spy. But yes, I’ll be looking for something that varies the roles up.”

‘Burn Notice,’ which airs on USA, stars Jeffrey Donovan, Gabrielle Anwar, Bruce Campbell, Sharon Gless, and Tricia Helfer. The last two episodes of the season air on February 26th, 2009 and March 5th, 2009 at 9PM CST. content director Brian Tallerico

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