Kiefer Sutherland provides a voice for the new animated film Monsters Vs. Aliens. He’s the general in charge of America’s secret monster facility, when they are called upon to defeat the alien threat. It’s also perfect timing to get an update on 24 as the show approaches its season finale.
Crave Online: What do you think Jack Bauer would have done when the aliens came down to threaten the Earth?
Kiefer Sutherland: I think Jack Bauer would have been the first person that the aliens took out. I’m sure he’ll be in the sequel, somehow. He would have been certainly been unconscious through this film.
Crave Online: Did you look at any of the military generals that your dad played in some of his films?
Kiefer Sutherland: You know, gosh, I wish I had because that would have gone over well during our Sunday night dinner. But I hadn’t.
Crave Online: What was the decision to do a character voice and not sound like Kiefer Sutherland?
Kiefer Sutherland: Certainly, all of the animated stuff that I had done before, like The Wild or The Land Before Time and things like that, they had always wanted my voice to kind of sound like my voice, so that it would be recognizable. So, when I came in to do this, I told Conrad [Vernon], "I have this idea for a character, is that going to be all right?" They said, "Not only is that all right, but that’s what we wanted you to do." For the military aspect of the character, I love the voice of the sergeant in Full Metal Jacket, he was so abrasive and loud and kind of southern. I knew Reese [Witherspoon] was going a southern thing going on. So, I thought that would fit. Then, to kind of temper that for some humor, my favorite character is Yosemite Sam. In the Bugs Bunny cartoons that he was in, Yosemite Sam was always sitting in some kind of Western salon, and he would start off with a line like, "Bring on the heap of rabbits," and he would go on like that. So, I did that voice and the producers laughed and we started to kind of joke around with melding the two together and we came up with the voice of the general, which is actually not very different from what I just did. We kind of went from there.
Crave Online: Since you play someone as dramatic as Jack Bauer, many people forget that you can do comedy. Do you just not look at doing live action comedies?
Kiefer Sutherland: I really don’t look at doing it. I mean, all of us can be funny at a dinner but the gift of timing and the training of the great comedians of our time or of any given time is not light. It’s a real talent. I don’t have that kind of gift. I think to my own detriment, I get quite self-conscious very quickly, which a comedian can not have. I’ve also been drawn to drama. That is the aspect of storytelling and the human dynamic that I’m most interested in. It would make perfect sense that in an effort to be funny in a movie, it would be an animated film, because I could leave all the other stuff behind.
Crave Online: How will you top a shootout at the White House?
Kiefer Sutherland: You know, it’s really funny, we actually, the end of 24, this season, and the most I can tell you about it is that it’s not going to end because someone cuts two wires and the clock on a bomb stops. It is going to end because a few of the characters are going through a very difficult emotional dilemma and it is going to end on a much more dramatic level than it is going to be a physical or action-oriented sequence. I also, in saying that, believe that it’s the most powerful important ending we’ve ever had.
Crave Online: We’re still reeling from the death of Bill Buchanon. How did you come to that decision?
Kiefer Sutherland: I think one of the most difficult things about 24 has been developing the relationship with actors and the trust with actors, this family that we have created and losing them from Leslie Hope in the first season, right down the line, Dennis Haysbert, Carlos Bernard twice. It’s really hard and as much as I know it services the story and it’s exciting for fans and dramatic for fans to do it, it’s been very difficult for as an actor to get into a rhythm with someone and let them go. So, it certainly wasn’t my choice, I think that it was very powerful. But certainly for all of us, for James himself, it was a sad day when that happened.
Crave Online: How much longer do you think you can do 24?
Kiefer Sutherland: Well, I’d love to do it until I’m 60, but I don’t think anybody would accept it. The harder question is really to the writers, and the greatest burden of the creativity is really to them. You know, they are looking tired, it’s been a haul, we’re a really competitive group, though, and we took a bit of a beating in season six and what I loved about our group is that I believe they rallied instead of kind giving up. I think all of us believe and understand that our whole experience with 24 has just been this giant learning curve, because no one has really done a show in real time. We really do believe that the idea is so special. We also believe that we capable of making a perfect season, and I don’t think that any of us have felt that we have done that. Every year we’ve learned something and go, "Oh God, I wish I could go back and fix that or do that better." Certainly, going into our eighth season, there were a couple of things, even from the second season, which we are immensely proud of, that we feel we can make better. So, we will continue to work until people say stop or until we believe that we’ve made that perfect season.
Crave Online: So you’re up for it?
Kiefer Sutherland: Physically, I feel fine doing it, and the character, if you look at Jack Bauer from season one to season seven it is a very different guy, so the character continually evolves. It’s a serialized show, so unlike something like Law and Order, where there is a beginning, middle and end, this guy continually grows. So, from season one, when he loses his wife and then his daughter, that effects the character through season two. And then when he loses Kim Raver and finds hope and love, that affects him through season three, and then when he loses her in season five it affects him, and right down the line. So, the character continually grows, so he is very different, not very different, but there are things that are vastly interesting for me to play from season to season. So, with regards to that, creatively it’s continually growing.
Crave Online: Will Jack ever find love again?
Kiefer Sutherland: Oh, will be find love again? Well, I think he’s kind of in the process of it now in his own kinda speedy way.
Crave Online: During the presidential election there was a lot of talk that 24 make people think that a black president could be possible. Do you think movies and TV shows can have a big impact on the general public’s way of thinking?
Kiefer Sutherland: Well, I’ll give you my answer to that. First off, Barack Obama is completely responsible for Barack Obama. Contrary to anything anybody has said, none of us are taking not even the slightest iota of credit for what that man has accomplished. But by saying that, I don’t want to undermine the power of television, film and all of it. I can go back to All in the Family, and you take a look at a character like Archie Bunker, and through humor and this older, bigoted, racist character, we completely, as a society, in the early 70s, changed our perspective and behavior on what was acceptable in regards to integration, race, love, hugging, homosexuality, I think they changed the social landscape through that television show. I also believe if you show on television or in films, for instance, as we did, an African-American president, ten years ago people would have said it will never happen. If you start to show people it’s a potential reality then people will start accept to accept that. I could say the same thing about season seven, we have a female president and I guarantee you that’s going to happen. It’s just a question of time. So, absolutely, I think Chekov wrote in the opening of The Seagull in an opening monologue, describing actors, "I watch these high priests of a scared art depict the way that we will eat, drink, walk, make love wearing our clothes," basically telling us that these actors were teaching people how to live. I believe that. So, I think there is a huge responsibility in that. Certainly I know that in my lifetime, I believe I’ve been a part of projects that have lived up to that responsibility and have been a part of projects that have taken advantage of that responsibility.
Crave Online: Do you have a hiatus coming up?
Kiefer Sutherland: No, this is kind of it. We start up in May, so we are quick back to work this time. But this is the choice I want, this is what I choose to do and I’m going to finish it out, and then, hopefully, I will have time for that.
Crave Online: Do you think there is any way Bill Buchanan survived the explosion?
Kiefer Sutherland: I will pass that along to the writers and I will certainly call James and let him know that you were this concerned.
Crave Online: Will we ever see a 24 movie?
Kiefer Sutherland: Again, we thought it would be cruel and unusual punished to ask these writers to write the equivalent of twelve films a year and say, "By the way, in your off time come up with an unbelievable idea that is so superb that we can justify making a feature film out of it." We all kind of collectively decided that when the show is finished that we would then take on making, if anyone still wanted to see it, the idea of making a film.