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24 Articles

Cherry Jones (President Taylor) of "24"

24 Call with Cherry Jones
February 12, 2009/11:30 a.m. CST

SPEAKERS

Josh Governale Ė Host
Cherry Jones - Speaker

PRESENTATION

Moderator Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by and welcome to the 24 Call with Cherry Jones.  Iíd now like to turn the conference over to your host, Mr. Josh Governale. Please go ahead.

J. Governale Thank you, Rochelle. Good morning, everyone and thank you for your time today. Before I turn it over to Cherry, I just wanted to remind everybody that Monday, Presidentsí Day, will be the ninth hour episode of 24ís day seven. We have about 15 or 25 minutes with Cherry, so Iíll turn it over to her for questions and answers at this time.

C. Jones Good morning, everybody. This is fun.

Moderator Okay, are you ready for the first question?

C. Jones I am.

Moderator The first question comes from the line of Joshua Maloni of Niagara Frontier. Please go ahead.

J. Maloni Madame President, thank you for your time today.

C. Jones Hey, Joshua.

J. Maloni Cherry, so many 24 Presidentís over the seasons have had serious character flaws. They usually make a lot of bad mistakes along the way, along the day. It seems so far that President Taylor is pretty unflappable and Iím wondering if sheís going to stay that way.

C. Jones Oh, Iím as flawed as the next little president. Iíve certainly got my Ėyouíll see ahead that I have plenty of flaws, both domestic and international.

J. Maloni All right. Iím wondering how intense is Kiefer? Whatís it like working with him and acting with him?

C. Jones Itís fantastic. And Iím so glad that episode has aired so I can finally talk about it. I had been told by my dear friend, Jane Atkinson, that when Kieferís on the set itís a whole other temperature, and itís part of the reason why Kieferís kept Jack Bauer so taut and intense for seven seasons. Heís completely focused and you feel the dire nature of the situation, and you donít have to work very hard, youíre just there with him. And then as soon as itís over and youíre off the stage heís the most delightful, enjoyable, generous, delicious young man around. But, on that stage heís absolutely intensity personified.

J. Maloni All right, great. Thanks, Cherry.

Moderator Okay, thank you. And the next question comes from the line of Jim Halterman of Progressivepulse.com. Please go ahead.
C. Jones Hey, Jim.

J. Halterman Hi, there. Thanks for your time today. Did you do any research for the role? And, if you did, who did you look to out in the political world?

C. Jones Well, Iíve always loved reading a biography and Iíve read a lot about Eleanor Roosevelt, Iíve always been fascinated by her, and I also thought of Golda Meir. I love the combination of those two women, neither of them particularly vain, but Eleanor Rooseveltís compassion. She was tormented, I think, by her fear that she was not a particularly good mother, which I think a lot of career women and women who are driven to do greater good for larger society, the greater society Ė Iím completely tongue-tied right now. Please forgive me. Those were the two, and I threw in a smattering of John Wayne every once in a while just to get through the scene.

J. Halterman I like that. Iím a big fan of your stage work, is there anything coming up once youíre done filming 24?

C. Jones Well, it looks like Iím Ė yes, there is, but it hasnít been announced yet. But itís going to be on stage. And Iím really looking forward to it and I just Ė that was all finalized yesterday, so Iíll wait for the theater to make the announcement.

J. Halterman Okay. Iím in New York, so Iíll keep an eye out.

C. Jones Oh, good.

J. Halterman Thanks for your time today.

C. Jones Thanks so much.

Moderator Okay, thank you. And the next question comes from the line of David Martindale at Hearst Newspaper. Please go ahead.

C. Jones Hey, David.

D. Martindale Hey, how are you?

C. Jones Good.

D. Martindale Thanks for doing the call. You kind of touched on this, I interviewed an actor who played an admiral in a TV series and he told me that when he was cast he went around to different people in the Navy, how do you play an admiral? How does an admiral act? How does he behave? And, someone finally told him, ďHell, heís an admiral, an admiral acts anyway he damn well pleases.Ē

C. Jones Thatís right.

D. Martindale And that was the insight that he needed. Iím wondering if the same principle sort of applies to being a President.

C. Jones Well, I think when you walk into that room Ė I mean, I have to say, when I first walked onto that set not knowing one crew member or knowing only Bob Gunton, was the only cast member I knew, there was a kind of deferential treatment that I felt from everyone simply because I was playing the President of the United States. Itís funny how good actors will defer to someone who has the position of power. Everyone in that cast gives me the power I need. I just move through the day trying to figure out what the hell to do next. But the way everyone else treats me gives me all the power I need. So, kudos to my fellow cast members. They make it very easy for me.

D. Martindale Are they deferential to you in the same way when the camera isnít rolling?

C. Jones Oh, absolutely not.

D. Martindale Okay.

C. Jones Iím deferential to them.

D. Martindale I got you. How familiar with the show were you before you were cast on the show?

C. Jones Iíd never seen a single episode Ė thatís not true. When I found out I had the meeting I went and rented the first season and watched the first two episodes and fell madly in love with Jack Bauer. I grew up on Man From Uncle and Mission Impossible, those were my two favorite shows as a young child, so of course I had a proclivity for espionage, apparently. And I just fell in love with Jack Bauer. And then the minute I found out I was cast, I immediately raced out and rented every single season and watched them like popcorn, one right after another and became a real 24 fan.

D. Martindale Well, thank you so much. Itís been a pleasure.

C. Jones Thank you, David.

Moderator Okay, thank you. And the next question comes from the line of Abbie Bernstein of Titan Magazine. Please go ahead.

C. Jones Hey, Abbie.

A. Bernstein Hi. Thank you so much for doing the call. Quick question, we were told at the TCAís youíd had surgery. How are you doing?

C. Jones Iím fine. Literally two days after I had that surgery, it was laparoscopic, I was doing three loads of laundry up two flights of stairs in my apartment building in New York. So, my doctor just said, ďDo what you can afterwards.Ē And I did the flight slowly, but I couldnít believe how quickly I recovered from that surgery. Itís terrific.

A. Bernstein Youíve played powerful characters before, but is there a difference between playing somebody whoís powerful within their own environment and playing the President? Or, is power power?

C. Jones Itís interesting because on stage you know the beginning, the middle and the end and you can sculpt and create the arc through to the end of the evening. And you know who you are and what youíve got to accomplish. And then when the curtain goes up you forget all that you know and just go into the moment.

On television, in 24 I donít really completely know who she is. I just have to take what Iím given in the moment and Iím carving out a character each and every episode because Iím being thrown all sorts of Ė I know Iím not really addressing your question about power, but itís because I donít really know who she is. So, I donít quite even know how to address that question.

A. Bernstein Because you donít know if there might be a revelation that sheís secretly beholden to Jon Voight or something.

C. Jones Exactly. Yes, I donít know. And so, itís amazing. I mean, Iím going in with the belief that she is someone who really has great moral authority because sheís lived politically a clean life and has been driven by her need to serve. And weíll see if thatísÖ

A. Bernstein I guess, let me rephrase then. Iím sorry for the follow-up, but is it difficult playing a character where you have to play everything slightly ambiguously so that whatever happens next will be true to how you played it?

C. Jones No. I donít worry about playing it ambiguously. I donít think I really play anything about Allison Taylor ambiguously because I donít worry about that. I let the writers worry about that. And then if they have some explaining to do, they can do that later on down the line. But I just try to go for broke. I want her to think quickly and speak quickly and decide things quickly. I wanted her to be one of those people.

Sometimes on television, I think as actors we can take an awful lot of time when the clock is ticking and I always wanted to remember when Iím in that Oval Office that the clock is ticking and this decision has to be made three minutes ago. And I just want to say about this character, I wanted her to be older than I am. I wanted her to show a life that has been difficult. And I wanted you to see the mask of grief on that face, because this is someone whoís just lost a grown child in the last six months and has had no time to mourn the passing of that child. And so she is very compromised. Sheís emotionally compromised when day seven begins. And yet, sheís the President of the United States. And I wanted to come in with all of that. And sheís not a cuddly person; sheís a tough nut whoís under a tremendous amount of emotional stress.

A. Bernstein Well, thank you very much for your time.

C. Jones Thank you so much, Abbie.

Moderator Okay, thank you. And, the next question comes from the line of Troy Rogers with The Deadbolt.com. Please go ahead.

C. Jones Hey, Troy.

T. Rogers Hi, Cherry. Thanks for taking the time.

C. Jones Thank you.
T. Rogers Allisonís a very idealistic President. I was just wondering how will that make Jackís job easier or harder in season seven?

C. Jones Well, that makes them a very odd pair. I think Allison is also incredibly pragmatic and thatís their common ground. And they both have a steely resolve which I think creates a lot of mutual respect between them.

T. Rogers Now, even though this is just a TV character, do you get a sense of the difficult job the actual President has? Especially when it comes to things like sending troops to Ö?

C. Jones Well, I canít even begin to imagine. It is my job as an actor to imagine, thatís what we get paid to do. And so when I walked into that Oval Office, it was very easy to imagine what it must be like on that first day and the bond that those men must feel for those whoíve come before them. I canít imagine Ė Iím sure itís why Barack Obama was carrying around those biographies of Abraham Lincoln almost like a security blanket. He needed that camaraderie and that wisdom and that mentoring from a former great President.

T. Rogers Okay. I can see that. Just one more quick thing, Iíve heard your character described as Hillary Clinton, if there was no Obama. How would you describe Allison Taylor?

C. Jones I think sheís not at all like Hillary Clinton. In the first place, she is very, I think sheís battling depression. I think of Hillary Clinton as a very gregarious and pragmatic person and I think Allison Taylor is a Ė I think weíve got a little bit of feedback here. I donít know if Ö

T. Rogers No, thatís okay.

C. Jones Allison is, as I said to Abbie, I think sheís in a very emotionally compromised place right now because of the loss of her child. And I donít see Hillary Clinton invading Darfur. I just donít. Itís a very bold move that these writers have made with the initial episode of this woman planning an invasion of an African country, an intervention, I should say.

T. Rogers Okay. Thatís all I had for you. Thanks forÖ

C. Jones Okay. Thank you, Troy.

Moderator Okay, thank you. And, the next question comes from the line of Sarah Jersild of Tribune Interactive. Please go ahead.

C. Jones Hey, Sarah.

S. Jersild Hi. Thank you so much for taking these calls. Did you have any reservations about playing the part of President Taylor?

C. Jones Well, I was reassured by the writers that they were going to try to fall back more into a more honorable President, more on the lines of a David Palmer than a Charles Logan or a Noah Danielsí President. And, itís not that I donít want to play an evil, wicked, bad President at some point. I would be happy to have done that too. But, it was important to me that she be written as a human being and not played with in any way because of her gender, you know what Iím trying to say.

S. Jersild Sure. Well, one of the things that has come up in the past is that thereís a theory that President Palmer sort of paved the way for Barack Obama. Are you paving the way for a woman President?

C. Jones I donít think the way needs to be paved anymore, quite honestly.
S. Jersild Okay.

C. Jones I really donít. I think the country has suddenly shifted into looking for people of merit and obviously charisma, weíre still suckers for charisma.

S. Jersild Well great. Thank you so much.

C. Jones Thank you, Sarah.

Moderator Okay, thank you. And the next question comes from the line of Ama Tamgello of Boston Herald. Please go ahead.

A. Tamgello Hi. Thanks so much for talking to us today. Obviously, youíll never be in the position of running the country or how you make these tough decisions, but how do you feel about how President Taylorís handling everything and the executive decisions sheís making?

C. Jones Well, itís interesting because I donít really know what the world of 24 is before we begin. All I know is that every single President before me has either been assassinated or resigned in disgrace, and several have been killed. Itís a very patriotic thing, I think, on 24 to run for President because you have a large target on your back.

But not knowing, as far as foreign relations exactly why sheís invading that country except that I gather that like our own country, our real country, we have lost credibility with the rest of the world and it seems crucial to Allison Taylor that that be restored. And she also is fed up with what has been going on in our fictional Sangala. I am an idealistic person and I love that sheís taking a stand. Whether itís the wisest thing to do, Iím not sure because I donít really know what else is going on in the world fictionally around 24. But I admire her for doing it. It sure has gotten us into a big mess, however.

A. Tamgello And you talked about how her grief kind of affects her as a President. But youíll also be meeting your daughter. What will we learn more about President Taylor as we see her relationship with her daughter unfold?

C. Jones That she has a very complicated relationship with her child.

A. Tamgello Anything to add or is that all you can say right now?

C. Jones Thatís about all I can say.

A. Tamgello Well, great. Well, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

C. Jones Okay. Thank you, Ama.

Moderator Okay, thank you. And the next question comes from the line of Ann Olderburg of USA Today News. Please go ahead.

C. Jones Hey, Ann.

A. Olderburg Hi, how are you?

C. Jones Good.

A. Olderburg Do you see your character as a Republican?

C. Jones They are so darn clever, arenít they, the way they never really say. Iíve been quoted as saying I certainly think my hair is Republican. Iím not sure. I think the juryís out. And I certainly was never told. And Iím not at all sure sheís a Republican.
A. Olderburg Okay.

C. Jones Who knows, maybe sheís an Independent.

A. Olderburg Right, there you go. And I know you sort of talked about all of this before, but do you watch Barack Obama and use anything that he does? I mean, heís not really like your President at all, and you said you looked towards Eleanor Roosevelt, but is there any President that youíve actually taken cues from in any way?

C. Jones Well, honestly, one thing that I did Ė sheís been in power only nine months at the top of the show and I think sheís already, because of the death of her child, I think I wanted to look very tired from the top. I mean, we all know what Barack Obama looked like by the time he finished placing his cabinet members. His face was twitching he was so tired. And after two years of campaigning for that office, they come into office exhausted. And I didnít want to look like some Hollywood person playing the President. I wanted to kind of look a little bit like Ö I wanted her to look exhausted, and I do. I get more exhaustedÖ

A. Olderburg I bet.
C. Jones Ö I mean, I think about Franklin Roosevelt in 1943 and the bags under his eyes, two years before his death. And Lyndon Johnson, Iím old enough to remember President Johnson well and showing his gallbladder scars. But yes, I wanted her to look authentic and exhausted.

A. Olderburg All right, but nobody in particular that you said, ďI really like the way Lyndon Johnson did this. Iím going to play this scene that way.Ē

C. Jones Well, the famous photograph of Johnson leaning over that member of Congress, I canít remember who it was, where heís towering over this person, and the personís leaning back on a table. I thought of that many times when Iíve been shooting things and Iíve been having trouble with Admiral Smith or with Ethan Cannen, when theyíre giving me trouble. I try not to ever retreat.

A. Olderburg Sounds good. Thanks very much.

C. Jones Thank you.

Moderator Okay, thank you. And there are no further questions in queue. Please continue.
J. Governale Okay, well thank you everyone for your time today. Again, Mondayís episode is the ninth hour of 24ís Day Seven. And, itís Presidentsí Day, so thank you Ms. President, and let me know if you have any further questions afterwards at 310-369-7455. Thanks again for your time.

Moderator  And that does conclude our conference for today.

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