Burn Notice Exclusive: Sharon Gless Talks Finale & Madeline's Ultimate Sacrifice

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Yesterday we brought you some of Sharon Gless’s memories from her time playing Madeline, mother to spy Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) on USA’s long-running Burn Notice.

But if you saw last night’s Burn Notice series finale, you know there’s much more to talk about that we couldn’t before the episode aired.

In fact, if you haven’t watched the finale yet, I’d recommend not reading ahead as we discuss in detail the big events of the shocking – yet very satisfying – final episode.

Here’s the rest of my chat with Sharon Gless ...

Sharon Gless Pic

TV Fanatic: When did Matt Nix tell you what Madeline's outcome would be in the finale? Did he tell you early on or was it when you read the finale script?

Sharon Gless: He told me early on. I understand the rest of the cast didn't know. Somebody came on the set after they finally read this last script and made a joke saying ‘Boy, Madeline's going out with a bang!’  But I knew from the very beginning of the season.

I called Matt saying ‘I'm quitting smoking.’ And Madeline was the biggest smoker on television! She's the only one who did it right. You watch those guys on Mad Men, they don't know how to smoke. Anyway, I was good. I would take it all into the lungs, holding it there, talking, blowing it out. For six years I did that.

Then I called Matt and I said, ‘Matt, this is what I’d like….’ He's like ‘oh no, she mustn't smoke anymore.’ So I said what, does she have a lobotomy? I said, ‘I want a lot of bongs all over the house. Those big water things and I want to be sucking on everything’ and he said ‘I don't want you having any bongs. You're getting a grandson. It's Nate's son. Nate {Madeline’s son/Michael’s brother) is dead.

‘Your younger son has been killed and now a year later you're fighting for custody of the boy. You can't have the bongs and all the gags going on because you're afraid you don't know when child services are going to show up. So you've got to be really clean.’

I said ‘Matt, all I'm asking is at the very end’…I don't want to be one of those holy people who succeed in quitting smoking. In the very last scene I have, I want to light up a cigarette and that's my last scene.

He said ‘let me tell you, you're getting your wish.’ I said why, have you already written that scene? He said as a matter of fact we have. Here's how it's going to go. He didn't say ‘you blow yourself up that time.’ He said ‘Sharon, we think Mattie is going to take one for the team. The last thing she does is take a hit off a cigarette.’

TVF: I thought even your last line was so great, where you said ‘this is for my boys.’ I thought that was so perfect.

SG: ‘This is for my boys.’ He wrote that but then he told me not to say it. I was just rehearsing with it, never knowing he was photographing it. He said you know let's not do it with that. I don't like that line. I just want you take a hit off the cigarette and just do it. I said okay. But then I heard that he did use the line, ‘this is for my boys.’

TVF: In the scene that is the last time Madeline and Michael see each other, I almost thought Michael was the one who was going to die.

SG: [Madeline] thinks she's saying goodbye to him. He is. He's come to say goodbye to her, when they're alone in that house with [Charlie]. She says ‘but the baby's birthday. Of course you have to be at that.’ [but] she knows she's not going see him.

She thinks at that point she believes she's saying goodbye to him, he's saying goodbye to her, and she's now manipulating him. It was very nicely written talking about the baby's birthday and eating strawberry ice cream like it's wonderful. But she knows he's saying goodbye. He walks away and she's left. Then who knows what happens.

TVF: The series ends with Michael and Fiona off together in Ireland and it seems like it’s all behind them. Hypothetically, do you think Michael is totally done with the spy business? Because I feel that's kind of who he is. But do you think he's really done?

SG: I think that is the most wonderful question. And I don't know. It sounds like, now that he has Charlie, he says ‘what will I tell him when he's older?’ I hadn't done any of my scenes yet but I wanted to honor [Gabrielle Anwar, who plays Fiona]. It was her last day on the set. So I just went and watched her shoot, that's why I know that scene. She says ‘just tell him my name's Michael Weston.’ She says it in the past, he was a spy. I love the way she says spy.

Who knows because Jeffrey has that wonderful face that never shows everything. I think that's probably their plan at that moment, but can he ever stop? Who knows? Will they ever find him? Who knows?

TVF: I have to admit I did want to see Madeline and Sam (Bruce Campbell) together one more time. Just because I feel like you two have had such a great back and forth with the whole series.

SG: I know, from the very beginning. What I wanted, we just did a thing, all of us, from different parts of the world, with headsets and  kind of talking about one of the episodes to go along with the DVDs. At the very end I said, ‘Matt, you never wrote a drunken scene between Sam and Maddie. For seven years we begged him to just do Sam and Maddie just creamed! [laughs] It would be the most fun scene because he used to live with her, in her garage!

And they wouldn’t talk about spy stuff and everything and just get really maudlin and funny and it could have nothing to do with anything. Matt promised he would do it and he never did. That's the only thing…that's my only regret.

What did you think of the Burn Notice finale? Thumbs up or down? Leave a comment below!

Jim Halterman is the West Coast Editor of TV Fanatic and the owner of JimHalterman.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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Burn Notice Season 7 Episode 13 Quotes

Fiona: What you did early, plowing into that store and then jumping on the car, almost incinerating yourself.
Michael: It was a calculated risk. I need information.
Sam: Mike don't, we've known each other too long. There is a difference between a necessary risk and a death wish and you know it.
Fiona: Michael I know you are hurting, but what is killing yourself going to prove?

Madeline: I don't want to lose another son.
Michael: Mom. I can't make any promises, sometimes sacrifices have to be made.