Interview with Kiefer Sutherland of "24: Live Another Day" on FOX - Primetime TV Show Articles From The TV MegaSite

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By Suzanne

Kiefer Sutherland

Interview with Kiefer Sutherland of "24: Live Another Day" on FOX 5/1/14

This is the second time I was invited to a conference call to speak with Kiefer Sutherland. Last time it was for his show "Touch".  Neither time have I gotten to actually ask him a question! That's a big bummer for me, but at least I did enjoy hearing him on both calls. He's a very kind, humble-sounding man on the calls, and says very intelligent things about the show. The problem is that he is so popular, and they invite too many people on the call, and there's not enough time. Maybe the third time will be the charm! LOL! Enjoy the transcript of the call anyway.

Final Transcript
FBC PUBLICITY: 24: Live Another Day with Kiefer Sutherland
May 1, 2014/11:00 a.m. PDT

Todd Adair Ė Host
Kiefer Sutherland Ė 24: Live Another Day


Moderator Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by and welcome to the 24: Live Another Day with Kiefer Sutherland interview. You may queue up for your questions by pressing *1 on your telephone keypad. We ask that you please limit yourself to one question due to the large volume of callers. You may then re-queue, and additional questions will be taken as time permits. (Operator instructions) As a reminder, this conference is being recorded.

Iíll now turn the conference over to Todd Adair for opening remarks. Please go ahead.

T. Adair Good morning or good afternoon, everyone. Thanks for re-joining us on this conference call for 24: Live Another Day with Kiefer Sutherland. We couldnít be more excited and have a better property to launch the networkís inaugural event series. 24: Live Another Day will have a two hour series premiere on Monday, May 5th from 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET/PT before settling into its regular time period on Monday, May 12th at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT.

We have a lot of callers on the line today, so weíll get started immediately with Kiefer. Thanks for joining us.

K. Sutherland Thanks so much for having me, and thanks for your patience from yesterday.

Moderator Our first question will come from Cindy Pearlman with the New York Times Syndicate. Go ahead, please.

C. Pearlman Hey, Kiefer, how are you?

K. Sutherland Good, thank you. How are you?

C. Pearlman Great. Can you talk a little bit about over the years how many times fans asked you anywhere when is 24 coming back? Were you ever in some odd places where you couldnít believe it was just all about Jack Bauer? And what kind of response to it have you had coming back?

K. Sutherland Well, I get it a lot. And it wasnít just a question of whether or not 24 was coming back, I think it was more specific towards when is it, because I think people were anticipating a movie. And then with regards to where, thatís always amazed me. Even in the context of the promotion of another television show I did called Touch where I would be in Russia, you know, I had gone to a lot of different places, been to South Africa, I was always amazed how successful the show was and that it somehow managed to transcend culture, language, politics, religion, etc. Iíve never had another project that Iíve been a part of that has had that kind of international success, where arguably through Europe, Asia, and even parts of Africa, that was equally successful as it was in America, which I think is a really rare thing for an American television show. So, Iíve always been surprised by that. Itís also something Iím quite proud of.

And then with regards to people kind of coming up, it was either one of two things. They would either say, oh, man, I really miss 24. And if they were going to say when is it coming back it was usually directed towards that of a film, meaning that the last thing I thought we were going to do is kind of another season. And I think fans were kind of surprised by that as well, and I hope in a good way.

C. Pearlman And just to follow up really quick, what is it about this character do you think that thrills people so much?

K. Sutherland I think heís hugely relatable. Obviously, the circumstances are massively exaggerated, but I think all of us on some level feel a connection to a character like Jack Bauer because this is a guy whoís facing insurmountable odds and yet he goes into the fight regardless. And I think life kind of makes us feel like that too. Life is tricky.

And I think the fact that he doesnít always win. In the context of the first season, he managed to save the president, he managed to get his daughter back, but he lost his wife. A guy goes and gets a promotion at work and heís very happy for a few minutes, but then realizes he doesnít have time to take his son to football practice anymore. And I think thereís a kind of reality in that not winning that makes Jack Bauer incredibly relatable.
And this is also a character that isóIím so sorryóafter 9-11 I think there was a real feeling of helplessness, and I think Jack Bauer, as a character, was kind of dogmatic and regardless of the circumstances was going to push forward. And I certainly found that comforting, and I certainly felt very helpless after 9-11 and there was kind of a great refuge for me in that character.

C. Pearlman Thank you. I canít wait.

K. Sutherland Sure, I hope you enjoy it.

Moderator Thank you. Next we have Joy Tipping with the Dallas Morning News. Please go ahead.

J. Tipping Hi, Kiefer, itís really great to talk to you.

K. Sutherland Thank you.

J. Tipping I have to tell you really quickly, yesterday when the problems were happening with the phone and I told people here at work the almost general reaction was, ďWe only have five minutes. Damn it, Chloe, fix this technology problem.Ē So, we were waiting for Chloe to come in and save the day.

K. Sutherland Well, the thing that I always get is how my cell phone never seems to fail.

J. Tipping Yes, exactly. My husband calls it the ďmagic cell phone.Ē

K. Sutherland Yes. Well, trust me, my own cell phone, Kiefer Sutherlandís cell phone, didnít work yesterday at all.

J. Tipping Okay. Well, my question is, if this is popular, and I expect it to be, I mean, people are so hugely excited about it coming back even in a limited way like this, and these 12 to 15 episode seasons are becoming more and more popular, is this something you would consider doing again? Would you consider having a second 12 episode season?

K. Sutherland I would never say no, because itís just too easy for something to happen. But it is not something that Iím thinking about and itís not something that I think Howard or anybody else is thinking about. I think once we realized we were going to do this and we actually started the process of obviously the writers with the scripts, Jon Cassar and myself doing our pre-production, we became so focused on trying to make these the best 12 episodes of 24, period, and we have four episodes left to do. I feel very, very strong about the first eight episodes that we have completed. Now, we just need to really bring it home. And then weíll see where weíre at. I would never want to say, ďNo, I absolutely will not do that,Ē because I donít know.

J. Tipping Okay.

K. Sutherland This decision I made this time was really because of Howardís conviction that he had a great story to tell. So, there are so many other factors involved, I guess, is my point.

J. Tipping Right. Okay, well thank you so much, great to talk to you. And I canít wait.

K. Sutherland Thank you. I hope you like it.

J. Tipping Thanks.

Moderator Thank you. Our next question is from Breeanna Hare with Go ahead, please.

K. Sutherland Hello.

B. Hare Hey, Kiefer, so nice to talk to you today.

K. Sutherland Hi, thank you.

B. Hare My first question is in regards to the movie plans that didnít pan out. Can you walk us through again what was going on with that conversation and where it ended up? And then how closely related is the event series to what the movie possibly could have been?

K. Sutherland Theyíre very different. The relation to where the script was for the film to what weíre doing for these 12 episodes is night and day. Having said that, I spent my whole career with 24 dealing with 20th Century Fox television production company, which is a very separate entity than the film company, and I dealt with the network, so, there wasnít a lot of conversation with regards to the film, other than we had expressed a real desire to make one. And I think that they were interested on some level, and for whatever reason, and I have no idea whether it was our story, whether it was what they had already in stock and ready to go out, I couldnít exactly tell you why it didnít happen. I just know that it didnít.

And then Howard obviously came to me with this idea for this one last season. But I couldnít exactly tell you why. You know, 20th Century Fox is a very big company and there are a lot of different divisions, and Iíve only worked with a few of them, and it wasnít something that ever got so far down the line that I could point to one specific reason as to why that didnít happen. I just know it didnít.

B. Hare Okay. Well, we thankfully have this event series to look forward to.

K. Sutherland Thank you.

B. Hare So, that worked out pretty well, right?

K. Sutherland Yes.

B. Hare And then my second question for you, though, is just how the Jack Bauer we meet in 24: Live Another Day has changed from the guy that we knew in 24 and how is he the same?

K. Sutherland Well, I think thereís a very strong moral compass with Jack Bauer. Whether he is right or wrong he is going to do what he thinks is the right thing, and heís going to do everything to the risk of his own life, that heís going to do that to try and prevent whatever situation the day brings from happening.

Having said that, there are two things that are very different structurally from this season to any other, and one of them is that Jack Bauer usually started off every season working within the infrastructure of whatever government agency heís a part of, or in line with the president of the United States. And then that might shift, but he certainly always starts there. This season not only is he not working within the context of that infrastructure, that heís actually working on his own, but the people that heís trying to help are actually hunting him and theyíre trying to either kill him or arrest him. And so thatís a really interesting dynamic.

On a much more kind of intimate character level, Jack Bauer is just, heís harder and I think angrier than heís ever been. Heís had to hide in Eastern Europe for four years, heís been estranged from his daughter and his grandchildren, he has not been able to go back to the country that he feels he served, and that kind of isolation has made him really hard. And that is something that youíll see very early on in the first episode in the dramatically dynamic shift between the relationship between he and Chloe, and thatís explained very early on.

B. Hare Excellent, thank you so much.

K. Sutherland Thank you.

Moderator Thank you. And just a brief reminder, please limit yourself to one question. We do have the next question from Joshua Maloni with Niagara Frontier Publications. Go ahead, please.

J. Maloni Kiefer, based on what you just said and what we know about what Jack has been through, what is his motivation? Why does he still try and protect these people?

K. Sutherland Because, and Iím going to use a line and Iím going to ask you to just kind of use it judiciously in your interview, but itís the only way I know how to explain it. The opening threat is he has uncovered a plot to kill and assassinate the president of the United States on British soil. And the fear of doing that, even if itís an ally, but the fear of doing that on foreign soil could be tantamount to a world war. And he thinks that the ramifications, or the outcome of this event, if it were in fact to take place, would be global. He has a daughter and he has grandchildren who are alive, and those are some of the reasons that make him come out of hiding.

He also has a profound respect for President Heller, and obviously Audrey, his daughter, is kind of the great love of his life. And those things all become addressed in the first two, if not four episodes. But, again, he believes that the threat that heís uncovered is so egregious that it could start a world conflict, and that is his initial desire to become involved.

J. Maloni Great. Thanks, Kiefer.

K. Sutherland Thank you.

Moderator Thank you. Weíll go next to Merrill Barr with Go ahead, please.

M. Barr How are you doing, Kiefer?

K. Sutherland Good, how are you?

M. Barr Good. Culturally, you kind of touched on this, how the idea of Jack Bauer came in after 9-11 and society kind of needed him. Now, years later, weíre kind of on the other side of that coin a little bit, and also weíre living in a world where we have television shows like Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones, those are about very bad people. So, where does Jack fit in culturally to the conversation now?

K. Sutherland You know, I donít know. That remains to be seen. I think youíre going to have to wait for that kind of reaction, because in all fairness we had shot five months of 24 before the terrible events of 9-11 and after that terrible day. We personally thought that the show was over and we shouldnít do it, because it was too close to something that had really happened. And we were very surprised to see the audience reaction, and critic reaction to the show early on, and somehow there was something that made Jack Bauerís character quite cathartic and actually a positive for once, and it was not what we were expecting. So, in all fairness, itís going to be much easier to answer that question in the next few weeks.

One of the things that Iíve always admired about Howard and Evan and Manny with their writing is that they do manage to have quite a very current political discussion within the context of the show. And even though it doesnít necessarily permeate my storylines, but weíre dealing with Edward Snowden, weíre still obviously dealing with torture, weíre dealing with drones, and those conversations are being represented by all sides, so, I think that thatís a really interesting part of the show, and it will be interesting to see how an audience processes that. I personally have to wait to kind of weigh in on that until that in fact happens, and thatís going to start Monday.

M. Barr Thanks a lot.

K. Sutherland Okay, thank you.

Moderator Thank you. We have a question from Michael Moore with Please go ahead.
M. Moore Hi, Kiefer. Thank you for joining us today.

K. Sutherland Thank you very much for having me.

M. Moore I was wondering if you could talk about the process of trying to jump back into the skin of Jack Bauer after being away from the character for four years, as an actor if thereís anything that you actually maybe forget, maybe any little type of nuances about the character that maybe you have to re-learn, or if itís just something that kind of just always lives with you.

K. Sutherland Well, my first instinct is to tell you that itís really innate in me now at this time. But it wasnít true. I think one of the things that I had to fight the most was that when you put something away, like we had 24 and the eight seasons of 24, and we put it away and we were done with it and kind of benchmarked it, and this now has become a part of our life, itís not living anymore, you get very precious with it. And I think the most difficult thing for me in the six months leading up to shooting was kind of dealing with my nerves and realizing weíre opening this up again and trying not to be scared of it and actually view this as a real opportunity to try and make the best 12 episodes.

But I will be very honest with you, I was quite nervous leading up to it, and I was very fortunate to have Jon Cassar, our director, because I must have annoyed the life out of him. For the first three days I kept walking up to him going, ďDoes that feel right to you? Does that look right to you? Does it sound right?Ē You know, all of this. And he was like, ďKiefer, itís perfect. Itís great.Ē I wouldnít have moved on otherwise. Clearly, I didnít believe him. So, he had to endure that for a few days.

And then there were a couple of scenes that really, one of which I think theyíre showing a clip, where I burst into this IT tech room and I have this scene with Chloe OíBrian and Michael Wincottís character, and there was something about the vocal dynamic, he comes in really hot in that scene and then kind of goes down to really kind of almost a whispering tone, and that was something that triggered something for me that just kind of made me feel really comfortable and at ease. And then we kind of took off from there.

M. Moore Great, thank you.

K. Sutherland Okay, thank you.

Moderator Thank you. Weíll go next to Sammi Turano with TVGrapevine. Please go ahead.

S. Turano Hi, itís such an honor to speak with you today.

K. Sutherland Thank you so much for having me.

S. Turano No problem. My question for you is, in 20 years what do you want the legacy of 24 to be?

K. Sutherland In 20 years I would like it to still be watchable. I would like to have it, at least from a technical perspective, not be dated. In 20 years I would also like it to go back to what it was originally designed to do, which was be a piece of entertainment, as opposed to something that was reflective of something terrible that had happened. So, in 20 years I hope that we as a planet are back to that place.

And then I hope from a technical level and from a creative level that weíve done it in a way that it is something youíll still want to watch. When I take a look at a movie like To Kill a Mockingbird, I can watch that movie, it being black and white doesnít throw me, its performances are outstanding, the story is really important and special, and it has not dated itself at all to me. I would like 24 to kind of be the same thing. And please know that Iím not comparing 24 to To Kill a Mockingbird. Iím just saying in the sense of it not dating itself I would like that very much.

S. Turano Beautiful. Well, thank you so much. Iím so proud of you for this.

K. Sutherland Oh, bless your heart. Thank you very much.

Moderator Thank you. And next we have Preston Barta with the North Texas Daily. Please go ahead.

P. Barta Hello, Kiefer. I really enjoyed the first episode of the season.

K. Sutherland Thank you very much.

P. Barta No problem. Thereís all this pressure on Jack to kind of get in and get Chloe out, so Iím curious as to what is the most pressure that you felt in your career working in this business?

K. Sutherland I would have to say it centers around 24. I think 24 came out in its first season, and certainly by the end of the second season, and this happens very rarely, where you kind of captured lightning in a bottle, and I think there was a responsibility to its initial success to try and constantly push to make it better. I know that Howard has felt that way. I know that Jon Cassar has felt that way. And the pressure generally always kind of comes from within. Itís never something that someone else necessarily makes you feel. Itís a sense of obligation that you have to something thatís giving you something. 24 has given me huge opportunities, itís been the great kind of education Iíve had as an actor, and so I think the greatest pressure that Iíve experienced is pressure that I put on myself to try and make the show as good as we can possibly make it.

That singularly is the thing that kind of stands out the most. I know that when we finished the eighth season, I think my shoulders dropped three inches because I knew that in three weeks instead of starting another season I was not going to have to confront that again. And there was a relief in that, I have to tell you.

P. Barta Great, thank you so much, sir. I appreciate it.

K. Sutherland Thank you.

Moderator Thank you. We have a question from Troy Foreman with TV Wise. Go ahead, please.

T. Foreman Hey, Kiefer, itís so great to talk to you. Thank you for taking the time to do this.

K. Sutherland Thank you so much for having me.

T. Foreman Youíve said several times over the years that the early success of 24 in the U.K. was key to the longevity to the series. Was that at all on your mind when it was announced that Live Another Day would be shot in the U.K.?

K. Sutherland It made me smile. I mean, if there was a place that I thought deserved our attention, I thought London was it. And when I say it was instrumental in the longevity of the show, it was a hit out of the box in London. It was a huge success. And as you guys all know, picking a show up for a second season is a monumental investment by a network, not just financially but literally in every aspect. And I think 24 was on the fence, and its success kind of, in other places in Europe and ultimately in Japan as well, were instrumental in that decision to pick it up for a second season, which we were really grateful for. So, when I heard that we were going to shoot it in London, there was part of me that felt that that was very fitting.

T. Foreman Well, thank you, and itís great to have you back.

K. Sutherland Thanks very much, man. Thank you.

Moderator Thank you. Weíll go next to Christina Avina with On Request Magazine. Go ahead, please.

C. Avina Hi, Kiefer, how are you doing today?

K. Sutherland Good, thanks. How are you?

C. Avina Iím really good. Itís great to talk to you.

K. Sutherland Thank you.

C. Avina I had a question for you on your main adversary in this season, because every season of 24 there always seems to be someone thatís working supposedly on the same side as Jack, but yet heís constantly throwing roadblocks in his way and coming up against him in every way possible and makes himself a character that we just love to hate. Can you tell us who thatís going to be this time around?

K. Sutherland Well, no, I canít tell you who thatís going to be because that would just ruin the whole thing. But whatís interesting again this year is itís multi-layered. It usually used to be one person. And this year all I can tell you is it will surprise you, I think, and itís multi-layered. Itís more than one person.

C. Avina Oh, thank you. And thanks for always being so wonderful with the press. Youíre great to talk to.

K. Sutherland Thank you guys so much for having me.

C. Avina Great, thanks.

Moderator Thank you. Our next question is from Camilla Wallace with Premier Guide Media. Please go ahead.

C. Wallace Hello, Kiefer. How are you today?

K. Sutherland Great, thank you. How are you?

C. Wallace Iím doing well. My question to you is, if you were as skilled as your character, Jack, in real life and you had a similar event take place where you were fighting a terrorist, would you fight or take flight?

K. Sutherland Well, you know, Iíve thought about that in trying to understand and develop the character, and because Iíll be the first person to tell you, I am not Jack Bauer, by any stretch of the imagination. But one of the things that I had to try and figure out, to kind of help form the character, was what would I do if someone threatened or endangered my family, and more specifically my children. And that reaction is instinctual, itís guttural, and I would fight to the death for that.

And so that was a real framework for me in developing the character, in that he feels this incredible sense of responsibility, that he does have a skill set that will allow him to do a lot of things and conquer a lot of things. And when lives are at stake, and particularly in the context of our show sometimes thousands of peopleís lives, he is very willing to die for that. Thatís something I admire in the character. For me, the easiest way to kind of access that thought was to just imagine something happening, you know, a threat to my children. And in that context in the fight or flight, it would definitely be fight.

C. Wallace Okay, thank you.

K. Sutherland Cheers.

Moderator Thank you. And weíll take our final question from Karen Moul with SciFi Vision. Go ahead, please.

K. Moul Hi, thanks so much for being with us today.

K. Sutherland Hello, thank you.

K. Moul I know that we all really appreciate it. This is the third incarnation of the series, and earlier you told us that youíd definitely always be willing to hear about another 24. What is it about the character or the production that makes you so willing to keep coming back for more?

K. Sutherland Well, I love the character and I love the idea of the show. I think I said in many interviews when we started that the real star of the show is the time signature. Because in the context of a thriller, which is the genre that this show falls in for me, that ticking clock, it really does matter, it makes you quite nervous, inherently it just does, because you know time is running out. So, for all of those reasons I found it fascinating. I also think Jon Cassar as a director shoots this in a way that is just intoxicating.

And thrillers as a genre, and as a genre of movies that I like the most watching, I liked them growing up, take a look at films like the Bourne Identityís, those are films that I like watching now. This fits right into that category. So itís not only something that I think there is a great opportunity to do something really special, but itís also what I personally like. I find the dynamic of this kind of a show to be fascinating and interesting and something I feel I understand, and so for all of those reasons 24 is a really attractive thing for me to do.

K. Moul Thank you for giving us so many years of great entertainment.

K. Sutherland Oh, well thank you so much for your patience and time, and thank you for today. Did we take care of everything? Is everybody good?
T. Adair I think so. Thanks, Kiefer, so much. We realize how much youíre doing this week in New York for us.

K. Sutherland I really appreciate it. Thank you guys for this, and weíll talk to you all soon.

T. Adair Great. Thanksó

K. Sutherland Thank you, everybody. Thank you. Bye-bye.

T. Adair As a reminder, 24: Live Another Day is a 12-part event miniseries premiering this Monday, May 5th with a special two hour premiere, from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. ET/PT, before falling into its regular time period on Monday, May 12th from 9:00 to 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.

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