It was a scene, early into the second hour of Fox’s 24: Live Another Day, when Jack truly came back for Kiefer Sutherland.
Plowing through anyone who gets in the way of his quest for intel, Jack Bauer — whom we last saw on screen nearly four years ago, at the conclusion of Season 8 — storms the secret base for an elite Wikileaks-style team of uberhackers, one Chloe O’Brian included.
“There was something about the vocal dynamic” during what then follows that best reintroduced Sutherland to his iconic TV character, the actor says. “He comes in really hot … and then kind of goes down to really kind of almost a whispering tone, and that triggered something for me. It kind of made me feel really comfortable and at ease, and then we kind of took off from there.”
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In 24: Live Another Day (which has a two-hour premiere on Monday at 8/7), Jack remains a man on the run, even all this time after the events of Season 8 made him a fugitive from his own government. As such, he has been distanced from not only his country but his daughter — quite the payback for a guy who has saved the world probably, I dunno, a half-dozen times.
The incomprehensible dis is not lost on the disgraced former CTU head.
“On an intimate, character level, Jack Bauer is angrier than he’s ever been,” Sutherland suggests. “He’s had to hide in Eastern Europe for four years, he’s been estranged from his daughter and his grandchildren, he has not been able to go back to the country that he feels he served, and that kind of isolation has made him really hard. And that is something that you’ll see very early on in the first episode, in the dramatically dynamic shift between the relationship between him and Chloe.”
Mary Lynn Rajskub‘s snarky computer specialist — now outfitted to perhaps earn the nickname Chloe With the Dragon Tattoo — is but one of the familiar faces on board for Jack’s next very bad day. William Devane is back as James Heller, now President of the United States, while Kim Raver (Grey’s Anatomy) reprises her role as his daughter Audrey aka Jack’s old flame, now wed to the White House chief of staff (played by Tate Donovan, Damages). Other new faces include Benjamin Bratt (Private Practice) and Yvonne Strahovski (Chuck) as CIA agents struggling to figure out what Bauer is up to when he pops back up on the grid in London. Though for now, they’ll of course just hunt him down like a rabid dog.
Swinging Jack back into action is his discovery of intel that an attempt will be made on President Heller’s life during his visit to London for some very delicate talks regarding (of course) drones. Jack, though — more than ever — is a man without a country and thus is laboring to save the day as some sort of “freelancer” for the free world.
“Jack Bauer usually started off every season working within the infrastructure of whatever government agency he’s a part of, or in line with the President of the United States,” Sutherland reminds. “But this season, not only is he not working within the context of that infrastructure, he’s actually working on his own — and the people he’s trying to help are trying to either kill him or arrest him. So that’s a really interesting dynamic.”
Who is behind this possible assassination attempt, which Jack posits would trigger no less than World War III? All signs point to the stone-cold widow of a notorious terrorist, played by Game of Thrones‘ Michelle Fairley. But this is 24, folks — things are oft not as they seem, and allegiances can change in a heartbeat. “This year, all I can tell you is [the villain] will surprise you, I think, and it’s multi-layered,” Sutherland teases. “It’s more than one person.”
That Live Another Day will unspool its 24 hours (over the course of 12 episodes) in London is, in the series lead’s mind, most fitting. Reflecting on when the clock first started ticking for 24, back in November 2001, Sutherland notes, “It was a hit out of the box in London,” making England’s capital city “instrumental in the longevity of the show.”
“Picking a show up for a second season is a monumental investment by a network… and 24‘s success in other places in Europe, and ultimately in Japan as well” made the decision easy for Fox. “So, when I heard that we were going to shoot it in London, there was part of me that felt that that was very fitting…. It made me smile. I mean, if there was a place that I thought deserved our attention, I thought London was it.”
As for the prospects of another Another Day — meaning, an installment of the series beyond this one — Sutherland is taking a wait-and-see approach, watching for the critical and audience reaction while perhaps forever ready to bark out another “Dammit!” as needed.
“I feel very, very strong about the first eight episodes that we have completed” through late April, Sutherland shares. “Now, we just need to really bring it home, and then we’ll see where we’re at.”