[IMG:L]24 star Kiefer Sutherland is already bracing himself for another bad day. Day Seven will bring significant changes to Jack Bauer's world: There will be a female president, CTU will be disbanded, and the Jack may be headed to the Dark Continent. That alone is a lot of information to get about a secretive show six months before its January premiere, but the perennially Emmy-nominated Sutherland declassified just a little bit more for Hollywood.com
Hollywood.com: Jack got along really well with the Palmer presidents. What is his relationship going to be like with the female president?
Kiefer Sutherland: Well, at the start she's not on his radar at all. Jack is starting from a very, very different place in the season. At the very end of season six, he was abandoning this as a life. We kick off and see not so much that it keeps drawing him back in a context that he wants to pursue anti-terrorist work, but that certain things that he has done over the years start to come back to get him. So that's really where he starts the season off. He would like to let it all go, but he can't. And then how the president and Jack Bauer will cross paths I honestly couldn't tell you. It's not that I don't want to, but I couldn't.
HW: Will Jack have to answer for things he did in last season?
KS: Yeah. We were just talking about that. [Writer] Howard [Gordon] had a great idea of how to do that and to inform, during the show, everything that he had done from the end of season six to the beginning of season seven. It's actually really, really simple and really smart. Sometimes you go the long way around to find something like the wheel.
HW: If you're revisiting a period of Jack's past, will people from his past also be visiting?
KS: There's a certainly a potential for that.
HW: Can you give us some names?
KS: I can't yet, no.
HW: How many years later is this season and in what time of day does the show start?
KS: I think that it's in the morning again--and that's as much a production issue as anything else. We shoot in the summer when it's daytime so that we get longer days and we shoot night scenes in the winter when we have longer nights.
HW: The initial plan was to shoot in Africa. How does that change the storyline of the show this season?
KS: I think on a couple of levels it was very, very difficult to shoot a television show on two, potentially three, continents. I think it wasn't a "real time" thing because they had figured that out, which I thought was really, really kind of cool. But they found a better way to tell the story from a perspective here. There certainly are still things happening in Africa and through the story, but it was better for their ability to write all 24 episodes. They knew very quickly that it was going to be much better for them to be able to tell it from this country's perspective than from that one.
[IMG:R]HW: Did you ever shoot anything over in Africa?
KS: We didn't shoot anything, but some of the stuff that they had written will absolutely filter through. The first four episodes that they write inform the rest of that day. They're also very aware that they're seen in two nights, back to back, and so these four episodes almost have a different context than the rest of the 20. They have to really write and cater to those for that reason. It also will either open up everything that you get to do for the next 20 episodes or it will shut you down--and we have learned that. I say we, but they have learned that over this last six years and every year is an effort to make fewer mistakes. Every year has gotten them and we run into bumps all the time. I think that's the cost of trying to do something different or new and each year we start the season off a little slower trying to avoid as many bumps as we can before we start.
HW: After some public criticism, there was talk that the writers were going to consciously avoid stories about terrorists and the use of torture by the protagonists. But those subjects still appeared by season’s end.
KS: That's our show. If you don't like it, turn it off. I'm sorry. That's what we do. I've read and seen a lot of silly stuff. That's our show. If you don't like it, don't watch it. It's a television show. Yes, I believe in the Constitution of the United States. I believe in due process. I do not believe in torture. In the context of our show, these are unbelievably extreme events that within matters of hours the entire place will be gone. It's a fantasy about that, and those are the vices that we use in the fantasy. Again, for anyone who's got a problem with it, there's 500 channels on the telly. Use one of the others.
HW: How would you grade last season?
KS: Watch it the whole way through. I felt it was no different than really any other season. Every season we had our strengths and every season we've confronted some bumps and some hiccups, starting with the cougar, these various things. Last year, the first four episodes were probably the best four episodes we've ever done. We certainly closed the show really, really well and we hit some rough roads around episodes 13 and 14, as I recall. It's a very difficult show to write so we're just accustomed to running into things that either we all don't agree with or agree on, but by virtue of the schedule and everything else, we plow ahead. I was very, very proud of last season.
[IMG:L]HW: Are you amused that people are so involved in all the plot twists in the show?
KS: Not at all. I'm kind of grateful and all of us are flattered by that. We feel like we've got this huge responsibility. If people are going to care that much about the show and get as involved as they have, we have an incredible responsibility to make it as good as we possibly can--and that's what we try to do. So no, it's incredibly flattering. Trust me, I've had long moments in my career where I was making much smaller independent films, films that I would be proud of that only three people would see, which is not why I became an actor. I wanted people to see the work I was doing, and this has been an unbelievable experience. I can't express to you how exciting that feels, but it also adds an incredible amount of pressure, certainly not just for me, but for the writers and everyone else involved in the show.
HW: Does that take any of the fun out of it for you?
KS: No, it doesn't take the fun out of it, but sure, I've lost some sleep at times.
HW: Is there still going to be a 24 movie?
KS: We are so focused on the show right now that I couldn't even imagine that any of the writers have even thought about that. I think that we've collectively agreed that'll be the first thing we'll do when we finish the show.