Kiefer Sutherland has revealed that the new series of 24 is likely to be the last time audiences see Jack Bauer bruised, bloodied and beaten in his efforts to thwart international terrorism.
Speaking at the London launch of 24: Live Another Day last night, Sutherland said head writer Howard Gordon had brought the show back after a four-year hiatus to provide a sense of closure.
Addressing the long-running rumour of a film adaptation, he said that condensing the 24-hour format into two-hours for the big screen was also unlikely to happen.
“In season eight, when [Jack] looks up into that camera he’s given a 15-minute window to ‘go dark’ and disappear, that was the setup for a potential movie,” Sutherland commented.
“I think one of the reasons why Howard wanted to do these 12 episodes and where the idea came for him to write was to end it and bring a sense of closure to the show. So I don’t see a film shaping itself around what we’re doing right now.”
As it turns out, Sutherland had thought season eight would be his last outing as Bauer. When Gordon told him that he was considering bringing television’s most battle-hardened hero back one more time, it came out of the blue.
“We had put this to bed for a reason: Howard was tired. He had written 196 episodes – almost the equivalent of 100 films – in an eight-year period,” Sutherland revealed.
“I actually called to congratulate him on his Golden Globe win for Homeland, and he told me he was glad I’d done so as he wanted to talk to me about something. So it was a surprise.
Live Another Day sees the hit show halve its formula of 24 one-hour episodes, although each installment is still presented in real time and the iconic digital clock remains an ever-present.
Not only was the streamlined series necessary, Sutherland said, it had also made for what he thought was the best 24 ever.
He explained: “In season two, Jack Bauer is stuck on a plane coming back from Central America to the US, and the flight was two hours. It was the most boring two hours of 24 that we’ve had, because I’m eating peanuts on a plane and we’re stuck in real time.
“The answer to fix that was to crash the plane in the middle of the flight, because it wasn’t working. If I need to get somewhere at the end of an episode, this [12-show format] allows the writers to speed time up.”
The first episode of the new season sees Bauer captured and stripped for interrogation, revealing not just his many scars but also his rather buff physique.
This was not born of narcissism, Sutherland countered, but out of necessity: “The show is really physical. So the better shape you’re in, the chance you have a getting through a season without running into real trouble.
“My experience with 24 is that it’s not a question of if you get injured, it’s a question of when and how severely.”
24: Live Another Day is on Sky 1, Wednesdays at 9pm
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