Thanks to the writer’s strike, it’s been two years since the last 24 season premiere. Had they gone with what they could shoot after the strike, it would have only been 12. Now Jack Bauer is in D.C., answering for his previous crimes, when another crisis calls for his unusual methods.
Crave Online: Had there been any work done on Season Seven before the writer’s strike?
Kiefer Sutherland: Oh my god, yeah, we finished twelve episodes.
Crave Online: And is that what’s going to be Season Seven this year?
Kiefer Sutherland: Oh yes, absolutely. After the strike, we came back and started shooting episodes eleven and twelve, so we had done ten.
Crave Online: But there was no thought of just airing ten or the season, half?
Kiefer Sutherland: I think there might have been. I think at some point, I’m not included in those decisions, that’s really Fox’s choice, and I think ultimately, they made a very courageous choice but I think also a really correct one, in waiting. I think the whole television season was disrupted so badly, and I don’t think the people that aired half a season won, and I don’t think we won. I think television got hurt actually, probably more by the writers strike than any other medium, and ultimately I think for us, we’ve always done better when we’ve been able to air all 24 episodes, continuously, and they had to make a hard decision, and they chose to do that.
Crave Online: How does Jack work without CTU around?
Kiefer Sutherland: Freely. You know, CTU, for all intents and purposes is replaced by the F.B.I., in Season Seven.
Crave Online: Does he still have Chloe on the headset helping him?
Kiefer Sutherland: Chloe’s certainly there.
Crave Online: Can you talk a little bit about the Jack versus Tony Almeida conflict that’s coming up? It seems like he’s seen a lot of betrayals over the years but this is the one he might feel the most acutely.
Kiefer Sutherland: Well hey, I mean, it was a challenging thing for the writers to do because you’re bringing him back, literally from the dead, but the storyline is really interesting and it really plays a massive part in setting up kind of the whole season, and there is no real conflict between us. We address a larger conflict and yeah I think it’s, again, it’s one of those things I can’t really talk about very much, but I think it’s one of the most creative storylines we’ve had.
Crave Online: Jack is in a very different place this year, isn’t he?
Kiefer Sutherland: Yeah, absolutely but the prequel actually informs how he got to this place. He’s very disenfranchised with his own country. Even if you take a look at some of the things that he’s had to do. I would have to say the most egregious was killing Ryan Chappelle his boss, by order of the president of the United States. I think he feels he’s being used as a scapegoat when in fact most of the things he was doing were under order by a much higher authority than he. And he’s there to defend his point of view and it’s something that is a through line through the entire season. The one thing that really resonated to me from that very first speech which kind of carries him through, because I think you’ll see, he has huge reservations over some of the things he’s done. So this is not simply black and white where he’s saying I’m right and you’re wrong. He resents the senate investigation but I think on a much more personal and moral level, he’s taking a look at a lot of the things he’s done and does believe there is a responsible way, a legal way, a more proper way.
Crave Online: That’s what he’s done. What about what he’s going to have to do in the next 24 hours?
Kiefer Sutherland: For him, saving the 45 people on the bus, if that’s his objective and that’s what he’s been given as an objective, he will do whatever it takes to save those 45 innocent people. It’s very hard to compare it to what’s happening in the real world and in our television show world, he happens to be right in the people that he’s actually doing this with but I think he has huge reservations over the violence. I think in the end, which carries right through to episode 24 is I think where he is at now that is so different than the place before, from season one he was motivated by this unbelievable sense of ideology and what he was doing was right. I think now he’s a much older, kind of wiser man who is very dejected by the fact that the world is even like this and requires him on some level. I think he is now just fighting to kind of finish out his life and maybe do something positive with it. Circumstances keep surrounding him that prevent him from doing that.
Kiefer Sutherland: I’m not a gamer so, I loved doing it cause the voice is one of those rare opportunities to do sixteen variances on every single line, my kids ended up liking the game a lot because once they stopped playing I would get killed, so they joked around with that a lot. I’m not a real gamer so I’m the wrong person to ask.
Crave Online: Was it good to have a year off?
Kiefer Sutherland: Well, we might not have aired for a year. I haven’t had a year off. I mean, we took 15 months, almost a year and a half, to do season seven. In that we added a two hour prequel, so we’ve never taken any time off. We finished shooting December 18. What was deeply disappointing and very frustrating was the year and a half we had to stay off the air. We had to stay off the air and it was a series of things that conspired to do that, starting with the writer’s strike, but Fox’s programming as well. Fox has so many sporting events, whether it be the Super Bowl, the playoffs, World Series, playoffs again, that January is the only stretch of time where they could air our episodes, 24 of them, contiguously without being interrupted by a sporting event or we’d have to stop for some other alternative programming. We believe that’s integral to the way the show can air and be aired properly. So as difficult a decision as it was for Fox and us to make, I think it was the correct one. But at the end of the day, we felt like we let our fans down on a pretty big level. We’re very disappointed about that. It was beyond our control so the best thing we can do in that time was to really take the full year and a half and make the best season we could possibly make. I think because of the extra time, we have completed all 24 episodes. I can tell you for certain I know that all 24 work and that there’s a through line and that we did not become victims of our own production schedule. We had time to be able to fix whatever wasn’t working. Hopefully in the end it’ll be worth it but I felt genuinely disappointed about people that have been really loyal to our show who were frustrated and disappointed at not having it last year.
Crave Online: Can you also feel that people are excited to have the show back?
Kiefer Sutherland: Yes, I hope they are. Someone will tell me, I’m sure, by Tuesday how excited they were. I think one of the things for us is we have the entire season done and to be able to finally put it out there and for people to see it. We are really excited and we wanted this day for a long time. I just hope the fans forgive us the time we have been away and come see it.
Crave Online: Are you comfortable with how the season ends?
Kiefer Sutherland: Yeah. I played a large part in discussing with Howard what the outcome of this season would be. It’s much easier to be able to talk about the season in its entirety than saying, "You know, we shot eight episodes. Boy, I hope the next 16 are good." I can say with all confidence that I believe that we’ve made our best season.
Crave Online: Can you give us any spoilers?
Kiefer Sutherland: I’ve gotten better at that too. I think I blew almost everything in the first season. She’s been with me forever. You remember that first Jay Leno and I think I unraveled everything? Even Jay went, "Stop!" I think one of the great things about 24 and I know this just as an actor reading the scripts because I don’t get all 24 scripts, that’s for sure. When you get one and you see a twist or a turn, that’s what kind of gets me going. I hope that translates to an audience too because that’s one of the great aspects of the show. I really do try not to blow the storylines as well.
Crave Online: How many times will you be beaten this season?
Kiefer Sutherland: People have asked me what’s different about this season and the one thing that constantly changes through 24 are the actors in the cast. The format is pretty much, the real time format is our show. That’s not going to change. Jack is going to be in a very adverse circumstance. That’s not going to change. So take the amount of times he was stabbed, beaten and shot over the last two episodes, times it by two, divide it by one and that’s pretty much what you’re going to get.
Crave Online: How did you like being in DC this year?
Kiefer Sutherland: Fantastic. D.C. and Africa I think for an actor specifically, to be able to be in a real location that you are playing is really important. I have not spent a lot of time in Washington. One thing that kind of struck me when I was there is you could feel the power emanating from the buildings and you knew at any given lunch table or dinner table or restaurant or even in a bar, you could see which group of five people might be working on a very important piece of legislation or someone might be in charge of something. You could just feel that. It changes the way you walk and it changes the way you talk. There is a different sense of urgency in that city and so for me it was great to be there to get a sense of that and that could carry me through the stuff that we would shoot here.
Crave Online: Did making the 24:Redemption prequel get you excited about the thought of doing a theatrical film?
Kiefer Sutherland: I think if Brett Favre has taught us anything, it’s to never even enter into that. I love making the show. Season eight would have to be extraordinary, and we would have to hit a whole different way of telling the story for us to go further, but anything is possible. The African prequel did a lot. It reinforced everything, for us, that we were doing in Season Seven, to that point, which was episode 15. There was a small handful of us, only 16 of us, that went to Africa to do that, and there was something liberating about it. We were away from this machine that we were responsible for creating, for the last eight years. All of a sudden, we were free, and we all got energized by that. And, we worked 15-16 hours a day, six days a week, for the three weeks we were there. We made the equivalent of a film, in three weeks. I think it looks extraordinary. So, we saw its potential, yeah. To be able to tell a finite story in two hours, as opposed to 24, which is the equivalent of 12 films, it became a very exciting prospect. For the writing, it was the most liberating. For Howard Gordon to be able to write two hours alone, without having to worry about how it was going to connect to everything else, because he’d already had the connection shot, it just feeds into Season 7, he could close that off easy. I think he forgot how good a writer he was. He was like, “This one was really easy!”
Crave Online: Is the movie still an option?
Kiefer Sutherland: I think we’re probably going to do the film when we stop doing the series. And that, I don’t know when that’s going to be. We’re focused on the show itself right now and we’ve kind of always, well at least for the last couple of years, kind of put that on a back burner, and when the show is over we would consider that.
Crave Online: Do you think this series could become a theatrical series? To do theatrical movies with Jack Bauer in them, is that something you’re aiming to do?
Kiefer Sutherland: It’s something that if when the show is over, we feel there’s an audience for and it’s warranted, yeah. And if the writers have a great idea, yes.