Sutherland Cherished Return to '24'25 Jul, 2014 By: John Latchem
SAN DIEGO — Recounting the circumstances that led to reviving “24” for a brief run on television, star Kiefer Sutherland, who plays anti-terrorism agent Jack Bauer on the show, said there was trepidation about not being able to recapture the flavor of the show’s previous eight seasons.
“Over the course of eight seasons, I’d never say we made a perfect season, but there was enough we were proud of that when we ended it after eight seasons we were really proud of everything we did,” Sutherland said during a panel at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con International. “So the idea of opening that back up again and potentially damaging it was massive.”
The 12-part 24: Live Another Day picks up four years after the eighth season of the series, which ended in 2010. According to Jon Cassar, who directed several episodes of the franchise, it didn’t take long to rediscover the groove.
“Kiefer’s first shot as Jack Bauer, was this shot in which the camera is pushing forward and Jack has his gun out in a typical Jack Bauer pose, and as he’s flying by the camera, I just thought, ‘Yeah, we’re back.’ It was just right where we left it.” Cassar said.
Sutherland said shooting the season in London was a great experience, and that he relished the opportunity to play Bauer again.
“We left it open at the end of season eight because I think we had every intention of doing a film, but for a variety of reasons that did not happen,” Sutherland said. “We were so cognizant of trying to bring this, not necessarily to a close, but certainly to evolve the story from where we left it. I went back and watched the very first season, and most importantly the very first episode, and there was so much hope in this guy. The evolution of this guy, with everything he’s lost, he’s run out of patience. He’s not fighting for his own life anymore. He’s trying to carve out something he thinks is right.”
For Sutherland, the chance to play such a dynamic character was one of the main reasons he decided to do the show in 2001.
“This character has been the greatest gift in my career,” Sutherland said. “We were trained [that] television was the end of your career. The fear of television was playing a character over a long period of time. But you get to develop a character over X number of years. The character doesn’t stay the same; the character changes. Jack Bauer in the first episode and Jack Bauer in the last episode are two different men. It’s actually one of the most rewarding opportunities that you could imagine. And so my experience in television was extraordinary for that reason.”
The process of crafting the character over the course of nine seasons comes about not just through the imagination of the show’s writers, but also how the actors are able to adjust the material for their performance.
For example, Sutherland revealed that Live Another Day’s most memorable scene, in which Jack throws baddie Margot Al-Harazi out a window, wasn’t originally in the script, but came about because Sutherland wanted to have at least one scene to exchange dialogue with actress Michelle Fairley (best known as Catelyn Stark on “Game of Thrones”).
“As it was written I come through and I shoot her dead,” Sutherland said. “She’s an unbelievable actress. I said I have to have a scene with her. We added three lines, and it’s a great payoff. Our writers give us fantastic scripts, but every once in a while you’re presented with an opportunity, and that’s kind of been the case over the eight years.”
Finding a way to end the show again also proved difficult.
“I think it gave him some satisfaction,” Sutherland said of the show’s final moments. “We went through so many different ideas for that ending. I said maybe on the DVD we’ll just have Jack take out a hand grenade in the helicopter and blow it up. We never had that kind of freedom before. It’s an unbelievably difficult thing trying to figure out how to do that.”
Fox releases 24: Live Another Day on DVD and Blu-ray Sept. 30.