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'Burn' star happy to share limelight

It's a little difficult to tell the good guys from the bad guys on USA's Burn Notice, and that's one of the things that make the character-driven thriller unique.

It's a little difficult to tell the good guys from the bad guys on USA's

Burn Notice

, and that's one of the things that make the character-driven thriller unique.

When star Jeffrey Donovan was cast as the spy who is driven in from the cold, he knew a lot about Bruce Campbell, who was to play his unkempt cohort, Sam.

"I actually had heard about him through a friend of mine who knew him," says Donovan. "So I knew just of him, but that's not to say that I wasn't a fan of his because I don't actually know many actors - because I don't go to the movies and I don't watch television. But now that I've gotten to know him, I couldn't ask for a better costar. And I'm sure actors say that all the time, but they're lying. I know all of them. They're lying. And this is the truth. You can't ask for a better actor coming from his huge career; to come and grace us on this show has been just a blessing for us."

Campbell, the veteran actor from shows like

The Adventures of Briscoe County Jr

. and

Jack of All Trades

, says he knew nothing about Donovan. In the case of

Burn Notice

, which returns to USA with new episodes on Thursday, it was a case of choosing the right man for the right job.

"The role was offered and I just did some research of who was involved and what their deal was, because in television, you're kind of trapped in an airless box, working very closely together with these people. And if the dynamics aren't right, it can be a very trying situation," says Campbell.

"And so I just did enough research, to find out a little bit about this Donovan guy. My research, I think, was successful in that it led me to the right direction and the right decision, because I chose this show because of its unique nature. And what I also like about it, there's a retro feel to this show. There's a weird 'classic' feel to it. It's a little bit iconic. I like this show. I'm a fan of this show because I like the nature of it. It's not bitter. It's not jaded."

Campbell should know. He's been around the block more times than a school bus from as far back as his days with director-pal Sam Raimi and the

Evil Dead

movies. Campbell directed many episodes of

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys

in which he played the role of a villain, a character he repeated in

Xena: Warrior Princess


He thinks episodic television hasn't changed much since his

Briscoe County

days 15 years ago.

"They usually pick seven or eight days that you get to make your movie. You either get a support crew to shoot stunts and carnage and mayhem, or you don't. Generally speaking, you're shooting between six and nine pages a day, which is really fast, really aggressive. And so those aspects really haven't changed. Somebody came across these genius amounts of days to make a TV show and everyone has stuck with that," he says.

Campbell has become a cult favorite among fans and filmmakers alike. He is a known scene-stealer, but his proclivity for snatching the limelight doesn't rattle Donovan. "Let me set the record straight," says Donovan. "You


Bruce Campbell stealing scenes on your show. I mean, you want that. ... I'm the straight man, and you need someone like Bruce Campbell because he never does it so far that it detracts from the show or the scene, or the characters."