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24 – Kiefer Sutherland, Part Two

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24 Season 8 - Kiefer Sutherland
Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) in New York © Fox

Fox’s TV thriller 24 has been nominated for a total of 68 Emmy Awards, winning for Outstanding Drama Series. Over the seven seasons the show has aired, Kiefer Sutherland has garnered seven Emmy nominations winning the award for Outstanding Lead Actor in 2007.

For the show’s 8th season the location has changed. Set in New York City, Jack Bauer is forced back into service to stop the assassination of a Middle Eastern leader at the United Nations. At the TV Critics tour, Sutherland spoke about his new intense, exciting ‘day’. the unrealities of being in New York

There are certain unique realities to living in New York City. How are you going to deal with that during the show? I don’t think we’re going to see Jack Bauer waiting on a subway delay.

Within this 24-hour period, New York is functioning perfectly. (he laughs)  Everything is New York is working absolutely on schedule unless we wrote that it didn’t.

There’s a real energy to New York City, and obviously we didn’t get to shoot very much in New York. I got to shoot a little bit there. And it’s something that if you want New York to be a real character in the show, which I think we really did, I think it served us very well last season when we moved to Washington D.C. as well, you have to be really cognizant of the fact that there’s this energy and things are moving at a very different pace than they are here in L.A. or Washington.

We had to constantly make ourselves aware of where we were. But also, by the same token, 24 is always moving at kind of a breakneck pace, so they kind of fit together.

It seems since season one, 24 has moved somewhat along the political spectrum from one side to another.

24 Season 8 - Kiefer Sutherland and Elisha Cuthbert
Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) and Kim Bauer (Elisha Cuthbert) © Fox

I’ve heard that. I always get confused when someone says that. We had the first African-American on television playing a president. We indicted a conservative president for criminal behavior. Jack Bauer, to me, has always been the most apolitical character, very much like the Secret Service. You don’t protect a president because of your political beliefs. That’s your job, and you serve that President, regardless.

One of the things that I was always so unbelievably proud of our show is that you could have it being discussed by former President Bill Clinton and (right wing talk show host) Rush Limbaugh at the same time, both using it and citing it to justify their points-of-view. That, to me, was incredibly balanced. And I believe it’s still balanced today.

One thing we did address, which I thought was an unbelievably courageous thing, was the torture sequences. It’s a television show; we’re not telling you to try this at home. It was used for dramatic purposes, but we did take some heat for that. I would have to say that’s the only time we consciously addressed a specific political issue in the context of the show.

Both the show and Jack Bauer have becomes so engrained into the pop culture, it’s been spoofed and quoted, was there a moment when you realized it had become more than just a television show?

24 Season 8 - Kiefer Sutherland
Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) holds someone up in New York! © Fox

It’s coming in bits. But I remember our second AD, Rebecca, and I and a bunch of people from the crew of 24, we all went skiing in Mammoth, and we were coming around the back of the main lodge, and there were a series of hot tubs, and this kid came running out from a snow bank and jumped off of it into the hot tub and in midair yelled, ‘I’m going to Jack Bauer you,’ and then splashed. We started laughing at that.

Yeah, it’s really engrained itself into our culture, and I’ve always been surprised about how the show can be done in 114 different languages and still everywhere I’ve traveled had the same kind of impact. It was something that really connected with people around the world.

You do quite a bit of traveling in your own life. I’m curious whether you get any special treatment at airports, if you sail right through security.

No, honestly, I get in the same line as everybody else; go through the same search as everybody else. They probably talk to me a little more than the other passengers, but that’s about it. You know, I think people make a joke more than anything.

I’ve always been shocked that people I’m actually flying with say, ‘Oh, I feel safer on the plane now.’ (he laughs) I’m thinking, ‘You must not watch the show because everybody around me gets killed.’