The actor, who recently appeared in the film ‘Changeling,’ leaves his theater gig to whip himself into Speedo-shape for his USA Network series “Burn Notice.
By Choire Sicha for The LA Times
Jeffrey Donovan has been living in the cozy Wrigleyville district of Chicago, doing the sex farce “Don’t Dress for Dinner.” Soon he’s headed to prep for filming on Season 3 of USA’s “Burn Notice” — which returns to air more of Season 2 on Thursday. He also recently appeared in “Changeling.”
Your theatrical show is closing — well, you’re moving on.
It’s a hit! They extended through March. And I was always intending on leaving — I need a little break. For “Burn Notice,” I train six days a week to get in almost-athlete shape so that I can survive six months of grueling shooting and not get sick.
What is this magical regimen?
I train Monday, Wednesday, Friday. So I get up at 6 in the morning and I eat for two hours.
Not exaggerating! A typical person burns around 2,000 calories a day. But on the show, I burn about 5,000 calories a day. Then Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday I do martial arts, mixed martial arts, jujitsu, grappling. Then on Sunday, like God, I rest. Then during the show, you break down — you lose all that muscle mass. And that’s my life.
Hey, man. In these dire times, as you know, I am blessed that I have a job.
I feel like perhaps I’m not going the extra mile like you are.
I barely read. I hardly watch TV. And I’m not in tune with the pop culture. My training is to look like I’m an ex-operative for the CIA.
And yet you rarely appear shirtless after all this work.
Well, I can count, in the first season, two shirtless times. And the second season, I would say at least two in the first half — but this opening, that starts off the second half [of the] season, I’m in the least amount of clothing I’ve ever been. I’m in a little Speedo. I was shaking right before the take.
Now you know how the ladies feel.
Oh, my God. I don’t know how they do it, in these little thongs and little bikinis?
Besides your trainer, who advises you the most?
I would say it’s a team effort. Obviously I have my agent who I’ve been with — I’ve never had another agent! — going on 14 years now. Sarah Fargo in New York and Brad Schenck in Los Angeles. And I trust them. They get me. They know that I’m in this for the material. You don’t see me at L.A. parties. You don’t see me at premieres for movies I’m not in.
Your theory is that burning too fast is burning out.
If it took 20 years since I’ve gotten out of school to get to a place where I’m in an Oscar-contending movie, then hopefully I’ve got 20 years to come down from that — and I’ll be in my 60s before I’m unemployable.
Are you putting something away for that?
Yes, I’m saving a lot. Of course it’s all gone now that the market took it away.
You should have spent it on cars and drugs.
The latter wouldn’t help me too much in life, and the car — I drive a Camry hybrid. I’ve had that for three years. I remember I was doing a movie about 10 years ago. I was in a hotel lobby and this very pretty young man walked in and he had this really brand-new, tricked-out $60,000 car. And I saw him and said, “Who is that?” And someone said, “The lead of the new TV series — they got a six-episode order.” And all I thought was, “Oh, you’ll be selling that in a year.” The show didn’t even air.
I grew up really poor. We grew up on welfare — a single mom with three boys. We didn’t have anything. Christmas would come around, she’d rewrap gifts she’d given us before. We moved about 10 times in my childhood. When you come home from school and the lights don’t go on, you think: We’re moving! You can’t pay electric bills on welfare. We became very frugal. You realize even if you have something expensive, you have to make it last. So when I got “Burn Notice” 2 1/2 years ago, I thought: I’ve got my Camry, I’ll stick with that.
When you grow up without money, you either end up crazy and overspending or you end up very sensible.
I’m not a miser. I’m generous with my friends and I’m generous with travel. I love to travel. I don’t own a watch — but I own my home. That’s important to me. And I own land. That’s important. That will last. They can’t take that away from me.