HIS ‘ 24’ HOURS AND MORE

Los Angeles Times - - THE ENVELOPE - THE CON­TENDERS By Greg Brax­ton greg. brax­ton@ latimes. com

For eight sea­sons, view­ers were cap­ti­vated by the Fox drama “24,” which tracked the ex­ploits of su­per- coun­tert­er­ror­ism agent Jack Bauer. When the show ended in 2010, the ap­petite for “24” didn’t dis­si­pate. Last year, fans were de­lighted with the show’s re­turn in a lim­ited form with “24: Live Another Day,” with Kiefer Suther­land again in the Bauer role. Suther­land stopped by The En­ve­lope to chat about the se­ries and its pos­si­ble fu­ture. Here are ex­cerpts.

Why do you think “24” con­tin­ues to spark in­ter­est?

You know, one of the nicest com­ments that I got about the show over the first eight sea­sons were from par­ents. A lot of par­ents came to me and said, look, my kid’s 15. We don’t spend as much time to­gether as I would like. But the one thing that we got to do to­gether was we would watch “24.” That meant a lot to me as an ac­tor and as a per­son, as a par­ent. The show also came about at a very tragic and unique time in Amer­i­can history. I think some peo­ple watched it be­cause there was this fic­tional char­ac­ter who would not take no for an an­swer. And I think that gave com­fort to a lot of peo­ple that felt that kind of anger about what was hap­pen­ing in our coun­try at that time. And it’s phe­nom­e­nal writ­ing.

How were you feel­ing about Jack Bauer by the end of the eighth sea­son?

The last thing you want to do is have a fan­tas­tic seven years and ruin it with an eighth year. Or an eighth year and ruin it with a ninth year. The cir­cum­stance of the show is not go­ing to change. It’s not go­ing to turn into a mu­si­cal, and Jack Bauer is not go­ing to have a great day, you know? So, there are cer­tain in­her­ent el­e­ments of the show that are go­ing to be repet­i­tive, and how long will an au­di­ence be able to ac­cept that? And for me it felt like it was time to move on and try other things. But then when Howard Gor­don, the lead pro­ducer, talked to me about do­ing 12 episodes in­stead of 24 for this past ninth sea­son, I was thrilled. As an ac­tor, I feel the char­ac­ter changes so many times in such small ways from sea­son to sea­son that it was al­ways in­ter-

es­t­ing for me to play.

Were you hap­pier that it be­came that rather than the movie that had been dis­cussed?

No, I think the movie would’ve been in­ter­est­ing. What I thought would’ve been re­ally in­ter­est­ing is that if you had the se­ries run­ning and in the break you would’ve had a film. I thought it was a unique op­por­tu­nity to use the movie to set up the story of the sea­son or use the sea­son to set up the fi­nal­ity of a film. That, of course, didn’t hap­pen. I do see it hap­pen­ing soon. But that’s re­ally what ex­cited me about mak­ing the film.

Jack was a very tor­tured man. What was that like, get­ting into his skin?

I used to go to a res­tau­rant on Fair­fax called Tom Ber­gin’s. It was a bar and a res­tau­rant. And a lot of po­lice­men used to hang out there, and I had be­come friendly with a cou­ple of the de­tec­tives. And ev­ery time I saw [ one of the de­tec­tives], he looked like he had been car­ry­ing the weight of the world on his shoul­ders. And this is some­one who is deal­ing with hor­rific homi­cides ev­ery day, who is deal­ing with do­mes­tic dis­tur­bances that were heart­break­ing. Jack Bauer is one of those men. He was deal­ing with cir­cum­stances that we would not wish upon any­body. And yet, lucky for all of us, peo­ple in our so­ci­ety take on those re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. But he was never go­ing to win. The cir­cum­stances that he was put up against were just in­sur­mount­able. And I think one of the rea­sons why I love the char­ac­ter is it didn’t stop him from try­ing.

It was also one of the first se­ries I re­mem­ber in which a ma­jor char­ac­ter was killed.

Well, there’s a very funny story about that. That idea came from Joel Surnow, who was one of the cre­ators of “24” in the first year or half­way through. And I thought they had made the worst mis­take of all time. And I called Gail Ber­man, who was the head of Fox Tele­vi­sion at the time and who is a dear friend. And I said, “Gail, I just want to go on record as say­ing I think that’s the worst de­ci­sion ever and I don’t think you can ex­pect an au­di­ence to watch 24 hours of tele­vi­sion only to have him fail.” And she said, “OK, thank you.” And I went, “Well, thank you what?” And she said, “Thank you for go­ing on the record for that, but we’re go­ing with it.” And I was wrong. I was ab­so­lutely wrong.

How phys­i­cally chal­leng­ing was it?

Not as much when I started as it was when I fin­ished. [ Laughs.]

There’s talk all around again about bring­ing “24” back.

Well, I think they will. And again, you have to un­der­stand, and I’ve said it from the very be­gin­ning, I think the idea is ex­tra­or­di­nary. I think utiliz­ing time in the con­text of a thriller as one of the in­sti­ga­tors of that thrilling ex­pe­ri­ence, so that as the clock’s tick­ing down, you just in­her­ently panic be­cause you know some­thing’s go­ing to hap­pen. I think for the idea to sur­vive, you would have to re­cast it and cre­ate a new set of char­ac­ters that’ll have a new set of cir­cum­stances, and that will be fresh for an au­di­ence. And I think they are, in fact, the in­fa­mous “they.” I think they are talk­ing about do­ing that, and I wish them the best of luck with it.

Ri­cardo DeAratanha Los An­ge­les Times

“THE CHAR­AC­TER is a re­ally good friend of mine, you know? It was a hard thing to let go,” Kiefer Suther­land said of his role as “24’ s” Jack Bauer.

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