Kiefer Sutherland wanted to kill off “24’s” Jack Bauer, but Fox dramatically staged an intervention to keep the icon alive.
“24” co-creator and writer Howard Gordon said, “Kiefer actually wanted Jack Bauer to die, and we had many conversations about it … many of us, including his agent, tried to talk him out of it, but then there was an edict from very high up [within Fox] and Jack Bauer is still alive.”
Gordon said Sutherland’s desire to kill Bauer was inspired by the actor’s ambition to “do something different,” but also his somewhat “self-destructive personality.” But he added, “We were ready to move on. We all felt that character’s story has been told.” The last season saw Bauer hand himself over to the terrorists.
Sutherland had said last year, “’24’ is definitely over now for me … It’s one of the greatest gifts I’ve been given as an actor. But it’s moving on without me.” However, earlier this year, he softened his stance, saying, “I’ve learned enough over the last few years to not say ‘never.’”
Multiple Emmy-winning TV writer and producer Gordon spoke at a 21st Century Fox luncheon at the Cannes Lions festival hosted by executive chairmen Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch.
He discussed the spinoff “24: Legacy” that won’t star Sutherland — instead Corey Hawkins headlines as Bauer’s CTU successor — but said he hopes Jack Bauer could make a cameo. “There’s always a chance he could come back.” Fox green-lit the series in April with a 12-episode order.
Gordon, who also co-created and wrote “Homeland,” continued: “Jack Bauer has cast a very long and powerful shadow … Carrie Mathison [Claire Danes’ character in ‘Homeland’] was born out of Jack Bauer. So was Corey’s character. We are fishing in the same pond for stories … Jack Bauer is the atom.”
He added, “When ‘Homeland’ came, at the end of ’24’ … I realized there was no soldier represented on television who had come home from war, so that was the genesis of that.
“It was 10 years after 9/11 and the questions I was asking, was that we are 10 years later and well into two wars, what is the price we have paid for it, what does it mean to be afraid? Good drama is not answering the questions, but helping you pose the questions, and having the right characters to tell the story.”
Kiefer Sutherland knows better than to assume he’s done with 24. “I’ve said that twice and have been wrong, so I won’t say that again,” he tells Rolling Stone. The actor, who recently launched a country-music career, has signed on as a producer for 24: Legacy – a new show in the same universe that stars Web Therapy’s Dan Bucatinsky and Straight Outta Compton’s Corey Hawkins, among others – and has not ruled out reprising his Jack Bauer character. Shooting will begin imminently.
“It’s a phenomenal script,” he says of the new series. “I think it’s going to be incredibly liberating for the writers to not have to figure out one more bad day for Jack Bauer. They get to write for new characters. And Bauer’s still out there, so you never know what’s going to happen.”
Sutherland is currently focusing on his new TV series, Designated Survivor, which he’s filming right now for ABC. “It’s got the feeling of The West Wing, but there’s a thrilling aspect to the show as well,” he says. “I have not been as excited about doing something as I am right now, since the early days of 24.”
On the show, he plays Tom Kirkman, a low-ranking cabinet member who becomes president after an attack on the State of the Union address. It also features Natascha McElhone (Californication) as his wife, Maggie Q (Nikita) as an FBI investigator and Kal Penn (Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle) — who worked in various capacities for the Obama administration off and on since 2009 — as Kirkman’s speechwriter.
“‘Designated survivor’ refers to a member of each party during a State of the Union who is sequestered, so if the entire ascendency to the president is wiped out, you have a representative for each party from the cabinet and one of those people becomes president,” Sutherland explains. “I play a housing minister who is about to be fired and, as punishment, is made to be the designated survivor during the State of the Union.”
After a “terrible attack,” he is appointed president and faces three problems: How does his family adapt to his new role? How does he deal with political rivals and a power-hungry military? And how will he find the person or persons responsible for the attack. “The character has to face all of these fights and figure out the appropriate response,” he says. “That’s what the first season is about.”
Sutherland, who previously told Rolling Stone that he did not want people to underestimate his commitment to his music career, says another thing he likes about his show is its shooting schedule. “I’m touring in April and May and we begin shooting again in June,” he says. “The way I was able to schedule that work, I will still be able to play five, six dates a month.”
Actor Kiefer Sutherland quit hit show 24 because he wants to work on other TV projects.
The Lost Boys star has played the show’s main character, agent Jack Bauer, for more than a decade, but producers recently confirmed 2014’s mini-series 24: Live Another Day would be his last outing.
Kiefer has now declared he is glad to finally leave Bauer behind because he longs to tackle other TV roles.
“24 is definitely over now for me,” he tells the BBC. “It’s one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever been given as an actor, but it’s moving on without me, I want to do other things… I want to do more television. My experience of 24 was unbelievable… I don’t think there’s a better medium than television out there at the moment. So I think I want to do more of it and look for projects where I can repeat my experience.
“You have to take your time though to find something like it – and that means you have to work less. So I’ll be waiting for something that’s worth it, with the potential for the kind of audience access that 24 had.”
However, Kiefer admits he may still make a guest appearance in the revamped show, adding that he has not “ruled out a cameo”.
24 premiered in 2001 and became a huge international success, winning 20 Emmy Awards over the years.
It racked up eight full seasons, as well as 2008 TV movie 24: Redemption and the shortened 24: Live Another Day series.
Kiefer Sutherland will only make guest appearances in a new version of 24, according to executive producer Howard Gordon.
The producer confirmed media reports that a spinoff of 24 is in the works from franchise veterans Manny Coto and Evan Katz, with a new male hero being introduced at the center of the series.
Gordon told TV Line that the proposed spinoff will pair this agent with an older, experienced female partner for an entirely new adventure.
Sutherland is being eyed to make a few appearances as Counter Terrorist Unit operative Jack Bauer (Sutherland) during the season.
This 24 is initially planned as a one-off event like the Live Another Day miniseries, but Gordon hinted that it could grow into a long-running series.
Fox chairman and CEO Gary Newman revealed in May that his network was in the “early” stages of creating a spinoff to the main 24 program.
Earlier this year, it was suggested that 24 might return without Sutherland, as he previously admitted that he couldn’t see himself returning to the series.
Fox later clarified that Sutherland would always be welcomed back to the franchise.
The sight of Kiefer Sutherland on screen holding a gun to a man’s head is not unusual. He spent nine series as Jack Bauer in 24 doing little else. But the sight of Kiefer Sutherland holding a gun to Stephen Fry’s head while Fry is lying on top of him wearing a Santa outfit, definitely is.
“He’s a big fella,” says Sutherland, with a gravelly laugh at the recollection. “I think he stands about 6’ 4” and he’s built – he’s not wire skinny. So when he landed on me I think the two of us laughed the first time. In fact, there were a couple of moments where we had to really focus because situations made us laugh so much.”
Just as you don’t think of Kiefer Sutherland with Stephen Fry on top of him, you don’t think of him in a comedy either. But Marked is a comedy, a standalone half-hour in Sky’s Playhouse Presents strand. It sees Sutherland play a middle-aged, browbeaten, debt-laden nebbish called James. When he is offered a “hit” to take out his neighbour’s archenemy it’s money he cannot refuse, but his efforts to do the deed soon descend in to a high – and festive – farce.