TVLINE | For starters, I wanted to congratulate you and the rest of the team on what proved to be an extremely well-received revival.
JON CASSAR | It’s great and a big surprise for me. I mean, I’ve always loved 24 and I assumed other people loved it, too. But when you come back after being gone for so long… Kiefer and I were scared the reaction would be, “Who do you guys think you are that you think you can come back after five years?” I really thought that was going to be the prevailing thought. But obviously not. Obviously, people were ready for it and they enjoyed it.
TVLINE | When did the writers decide that Audrey (played by Kim Raver) would not survive this day?
Not early, I can tell you that. I can’t tell you exactly when, but it wasn’t something that we knew right from the beginning. That’s always been the writing of 24. The boys are at least courageous enough to admit that… it’s still being written episode-by-episode. And it’s great because then you can react to the characters and the way they’re mixing with each other, if there’s any chemistry. That’s always been one of the things about 24 that I loved.
TVLINE | We always give Kiefer props for the action hero stuff, but man, he nailed that reaction to the phone call about Audrey.
It’s funny, that night we were on that boat and we had all the action of the guys going up and down the stairs and all that stuff. And even as a director, I don’t even worry about that action stuff because I know that’s just something we now have done so much that we just do it quickly. What I worry about are those [quieter] scenes, you know? Not that I don’t think Kiefer can do it, I just worry about giving him the time to get to that place. But he’s just so good. And those scenes are, again, what makes 24 different. You have these characters going through what he goes through within that last episode… I don’t think anyone does it as good as Kiefer. I really don’t.
TVLINE | Well, you talk about giving him the time to get to that place — I was going to say that’s probably one of the longer moments we’ve ever given Jack Bauer over the years to process something.
And kudos to the writers/producers for doing that. We built it that way when we shot it, but they get the final cut and the show’s long and there’s trims everywhere but they let it play out. They let it breathe. And it was important that it did. Any director will tell you that you worry about that more than the big action pieces, but it’s those other moments that are going to make or break your show.
TVLINE | Without revealing anything, do you know if the writers have any ideas for what a conceivable next season would be about?
It’s definitely the question of the moment, that’s for sure. But right now, no. Right now I think it’s safe to say there isn’t a next installment. I mean, not that there won’t be, but there isn’t anything planned. And I think what Howard [Gordon] keeps saying, which is right, is that we just finished. It was one of the latest finishes to post we’ve ever done, that’s how close the ending was. So basically what Howard keeps saying is that we need to just all move away from it just a bit. We need to just get away for a month so we can all just catch our breath again and be human beings again, because you’re just in such a heightened state when you shoot the show. And then we can start talking about if there’s going to be another 24.
TVLINE | Talking about how well it was received, I wonder if part of that is because “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”
Well, maybe, but that’s not always true. Sometimes absence breeds contempt. So I guess take whatever saying you want. If we came out with, let’s say, a substandard season, I don’t think that would have been true. I think the writers did an incredible job putting it together this year and coming up with, again, a very relevant story. And just we picked all the right actors again, which we’ve done so well for so many years. There’s still nothing like 24 on TV, after all these years. It really is quite different.
TVLINE | But if someone does get the germ of an idea for another installment, you of course have friends in new Fox network bosses Dana Walden and Gary Newman.
There’s no one that supported us more than Gary and Dana. They’ve just been our backbone through all of this. So I’m sure, first of all, if there is another one, it’s going to come from their office first before it comes from anywhere. They couldn’t have been better to us through all the years.
TVLINE | Kiefer has intimated in interviews that he’s getting too old for this “ish,” as they say, with all the running around and stuff. Could that be a concern or a deciding factor in the show’s future?
Yeah, I guess, but first of all, look, in one crazy way it’s always going to be Kiefer’s decision, because he has to need to want to play it. Here’s an actor that has done 204 hours of this character, so he has to have the drive. And I think one of the things that made it great this year was that he did have the drive. I think there was a long enough gap that he wanted to come back. And you see it in his performance.
And then, quite honestly, there’s the the writing. And one of the reasons this one came back is because Howard really thought that he had something that was different than we’d done before and he proved it. But as far as age, I think we’ll just start playing that. Kiefer and I have even talked about it. If Jack Bauer comes back, you just start playing the fact that he is getting older and he is not as fast as he was. And maybe that’s part of the new story, that he isn’t the machine that he used to be and he has to start dealing with that. Because that would be interesting, too. I mean, I would like to see that Jack Bauer.
TVLINE | Since you directed the episodes surrounding President Heller’s “death,” please clear the air: How exactly did the whole ruse play out? What did we not see on screen?
It actually started off very early in the episode, it’s just a bit invisible. It’s not one of those things where you really point to it. But if you go back, all the conversations that Jack is having with Chloe are about, “Chloe, can you get in?” and she says, “There’s three different modules” or whatever. “It’s going to be tough, but I’m going to try.” So we’re actually setting it up. It’s actually right in front of you and is so sort of beautifully hidden that you don’t really notice that she’s doing it. But if you go back, it’s all set up. It’s obvious that she finally did get in and then was able to loop the one little piece [of video] for [the Al-Harazis].