Coby Bell on ‘Burn Notice’ and ‘The Game’
Coby Bell may be one of the hardest working actors on television, with a busy production schedule that keeps him busy throughout almost the entire year.
As Jesse Porter on "Burn Notice" and Jason Pitts on "The Game," Bell currently appears on two of the biggest cable hits for USA and BET respectively. With the fifth season of "Burn Notice" winding down, Bell recently spoke to Crave Online about what he wants for Jesse in the next season and he also shared his thoughts on his role through the end of this season before telling us some interesting details about what's happening next season on "The Game."
Photo Credit: Jeff Berlin.
Crave Online: For anyone new to "Burn Notice," can you give us the rundown on your character, Jesse Porter?
Coby Bell: Last season was my first season on the show. And it turned out that my character, Jesse was accidentally burned by Michael (Westen) and when Jesse found out he was pissed. At first he was brooding and pretty upset that his life was [destroyed] and when he found out it was Michael [who burned him] he was even more pissed off. So he spent a lot of last season pretty pissed off. This season, Jesse found that he really likes it in Miami, he likes his new life, working with his new friends and cutting out the middle man and going straight to solving the problem. So I think he was a lot happier, a lot lighter. You got to know who Jesse really is this season and I'm having a lot of fun with it.
Crave Online: This season, Jesse was working for a private security firm and sometimes he took down his own crooked clients. Do you think anyone at the firm will ever say to Jesse, "why do so many of your clients mysteriously end up in jail?"
Coby Bell: (laughs) I don't know! We'll have to see. I guess my boss is pretty inept. Not only that, Jesse's never at work! He's always like "I'm gonna go off the grid and take out some bad guys with Michael, Fiona and Sam." It's a good way of getting information and tech for the team and a nice little tool for the writers.
Crave Online: How would you sum up your experience this year on "Burn Notice"?
Coby Bell: [The writers] gave me a little bit of everything this season. Which is a lot of fun. The action, the drama, but then [they also] gave me a lot of comedy this season too. Jesse gets to go into these other characters to trick the bad guys and I had a blast with that.
Crave Online: Do you think that the writers will ever give Jesse another shot with Fiona if she falls out with Michael?
Coby Bell: (laughs) No, no, no. I don't think so. Last year, they kind of dabbled with it, but I think we all kind of quickly realized that Michael is Batman. So you can't have Robin come in and try to steal Vicky Vale. It doesn't work.
Crave Online: I would absolutely buy a comic where Robin steals Vicky Vale from Batman. Well, the Tim Drake Robin, anyway…
Coby Bell: (laughs) That would be a good one.
Crave Online: Do you think that Jesse will ever get a "Burn Notice" prequel film like "The Fall of Sam Axe"?
Coby Bell: I don't know. Jesse is the new guy, he hasn't earned that status yet. [Sam Axe] is Bruce Campbell. You've got to give him his own thing. That's one of the coolest dudes I've ever met. I loved watching the Sam Axe movie. I guess you'll have to talk to me in five years and see if my character has earned it.
Crave Online: How did you end up on "Burn Notice"?
Coby Bell: I was close to getting one of the main roles on Matt Nix's other show last year…
Crave Online: "The Good Guys." I remember that.
Coby Bell: It came down to me and Colin Hanks and Colin Hanks got it. But Matt said that he really wanted to work with me. I said "Cool, man. Great." People say that all the time. But then he got me in for "Burn Notice" and everything went well, so here I am.
Crave Online: I'd say you came out ahead in that deal.
Coby Bell: I think so.
Crave Online: You're in a unique situation of a appearing on two of the biggest cable hits simultaneously between "Burn Notice" and "The Game."
Coby Bell: Yeah, it's pretty crazy. It was all just kind of luck. I was on "The Game" and we did three seasons and then it got canceled. Then I hopped on to "Burn Notice" and "The Game" came back! I didn't think that they would let me do both, but luckily they did.
Crave Online: What's your favorite Jesse moment to date on "Burn Notice"?
Coby Bell: I actually had a lot of fun when I had this scene where Jesse had to pretend to be high on heroin or something…
Crave Online: Was that the episode where Jesse approached the drug lord as if he was trying to sell him information?
Coby Bell: Yeah, that's the one. That was a lot of fun. Those are my favorite moments, when I just get to cut loose and go into a different character and be silly. That's what I love doing.
Crave Online: What can you tell us about the last two episodes of the season?
Coby Bell: I know that in episode 17, the penultimate episode I had the "A" storyline. They gave Jesse what would ordinarily be the Michael Westen storyline. I wasn't expecting that but I guess they're doing that every now and again.
Gregg Henry was the main guest star in (episode 17). He's an amazing actor and that episode was written by Ben Watkins. And there is a really good twist in that one. I probably shouldn't even say that because people are going to be looking for the twist. But it's a really well written episode.
I don't think I can share anything more than that, but I had a lot of fun working on those episodes.
Crave Online: Where would you like to see Jesse go in the next season of "Burn Notice"?
Coby Bell: I think if we stay on the course that we're on right now, I'm going to be really happy. I liked how they've lightened him up and he really settled into his life in Miami. I think he digs what he does.
Crave Online: Are you filming "The Game" season five right now?
Coby Bell: Yeah, I've been in Atlanta for however long its been since "Burn Notice" ended. We wrap up around the end of December or the beginning of January. I'm having a real good time. You know the singer, Brandy Norwood. She's my love interest for this season and she's awesome.
Crave Online: The next season of "The Game" is coming in January, right?
Coby Bell: Yeah, it airs January 10.
Crave Online: Are you in every episode this year?
Coby Bell: No, but I'm in a bunch of them.
Crave Online: Can you tell us what's in store for your character, Jason Pitts this season?
Coby Bell: It sounds weird when I say it, but they actually did it well and in a really clever way. Jason is forced to explore his own racial issues. Like almost his own racism against his own kind… kind of thing. And he kind of grows as a guy in that way.
Crave Online: When do you start with "Burn Notice" season six?
Coby Bell: "The Game" will be done at the end of December. And then I'll have January, February and half of March to hang out and be a dad. And then I'll be back in Miami in mid-March.
Crave Online: You know, I would like to see you return as Conway Stern on "Archer."
Coby Bell: Me too, man! Me too! That was the most fun… the coolest thing… and they left it open. The character isn't dead so maybe they will bring that guy back. I would love to go back and do that. I'm a big fan of the show and just a big fan of cartoons all of my life. So yeah, I would love to be Conway Stern again.
Crave Online: He lost a hand at the end of his episode, right?
Coby Bell: Yeah, so he should come back as a one-handed bad guy. That would be awesome. Adam Reed [the creator of "Archer"] is a really funny dude and I was honored to be a part of it.
Crave Online: Do you have time for any projects outside of "Burn Notice" and "The Game"? It seems like you're pretty busy.
Coby Bell: Yeah, I work in Miami but my wife and my kids are in LA. So I fly home every weekend to be with my wife and kids. All I really do is work and fly and raise children. That's pretty much what I'm doing right now. I was actually offered a [film] that I couldn't do because I was doing both of these shows. But you know, I can't complain. It's a good problem to have.