24 remains one of the most popular shows
on television, and there's no sign of a slump as it enters year/day six.
Kiefer Sutherland has kept Jack Bauer a vital force on television, though
it's not an easy task.
Interrogating Kiefer Sutherland on 24
"A small example is the whole reintroduction of Audrey as a character
and myself as a character that is alive," Sutherland explained of his
process. "Every scene that I had with her, I wanted three beats or
three lines to really play how much he loved her and how much he wanted
to be with her, and the fourth beat would always be 'I can’t. The
second this is over, I have to disappear.' And then the next beat, the new
measure would be I love her, I love her, I love her, I can’t. I love
her… I know it sounds really simplistic but it’s not an easy
thing to keep that meter in your head. Or maybe it is for others. It’s
not for me. It takes me a minute to get into that groove, but I remember
when it worked, John Cassar turned around and went, 'What was that?' It
was just a complexity of playing two things at the same time which is not
something normally as an actor, I’m a huge fan of not the obvious
but sometimes things are obvious for a reason and I see some people avoiding
it at such a cost that they miss the whole point of the characters. This
has taught me to kind of try and find a blend of both. Or at least to try."
The writers have kept the real time hook going every year, but Sutherland
thinks it's not any gimmick that keeps viewers hooked. "I don't think
people like the show because it’s serialized. I think people like
the show because the characters are working and the writers do a fantastic
job creating a world that they’ve found entertaining. Again, I can’t
tell you how lucky that is. I’ve been doing this for 20 years. I’ve
never had an experience like this in my life. I certainly know I could have
worked for another 20 and never had it. Law and Order is a fantastic
show and it was absolutely serialized in a perfect package episode to episode
to episode. This is not and I think they work in different milieus for their
own different reasons. Again, I think it comes down to creating a situation
that is interesting for an audience and ultimately creating characters that
you care about that are in that situation."
Perhaps it is also the political undertones of Jack Bauers unorthodox approach
to fighting terrorism that attracts people in today's world. "I think
escapism is a very broad word. I think all entertainment on some level is
and I think it can also be informative and I think it can be a variety of
things. But absolutely. It was uncanny the timing of us coming out with
our show and the terrible events of 9/11. It certainly awakened a ear in
this country regarding terrorism that I don't think was as pervasive before.
So yeah. Absolutely. I think the world has changed incredibly since that
terrible day and our show certainly deals with aspects of that. Again, in
the context of a television show, not reality."
Sutherland is happy to keep talking about the show, because he thanks people
like us for keeping it alive. "We wouldn’t have been even picked
up had it not been for this [interview] event five years ago. It was the
energy that was kind of created out of the screening of the new pilot and
by you guys that got Fox, because we were on the fence and we were teetering
off it in the wrong direction. I’ll never forget that. This has been
one of the most amazing experience of my life and certainly I think the
most amazing of my career to date. I’m really grateful for it."