Kiefer Talks Torture and Getting Turned on — 24 Is Back!

Kiefer Sutherland and the rest of the cast of 24 took the stage at this morning's Fox TCA panel, and while the questions kept coming back to whether or not the show condones torture, they managed to get a few good jokes in. After this week's four-hour season premiere and last month's TV movie 24: Redemption, are you on board with the new season? The show's producers and cast seem hopeful that a little break has made the show and Jack Bauer reinvigorated and ready to excite us. Here were some highlights from Kiefer at the press presentation:

  • On Jack this season: "We felt that Jack had great contempt for the Senate investigation because many of the things he was asked to do over the previous six seasons were ordered by the government (president). He is certainly questioning many of the things he has been asked to do, either ordered or on his own. He is wrestling with his own history and whether or not he is the kind of person who should have been asked to do these sorts of things. This inner struggle is something he carries for all 24 episodes."
  • On torture: "The use of torture was a dramatic device used to show urgency, not meant to validate this kind of behavior for the real world . . . In reality less than 10 percent of information they get from situations like this are helpful, but it is a television show and we are driving a plot forward and we use it for dramatic effect. But it does raise question of right and wrong . . . From my perspective it has always been literally a dramatic device to show you the urgency of a situation. There was just no alternative. One of the most moving scenes for me was killing my boss — we’re not condoning that, it was just part of the show. It’s as simple as that."
  • On keeping in shape: “Try to work out as much as you can in the off-season because it's tricky to maintain in the on-season. You do what you can with the time you’ve got like everyone. I run, and lucky for me during the day when I have to go to work, I run a lot there too. On an emotional level, fear and panic is my workout through the entire season . . .This has been an unbelievable gift . . . There is no specific regimen I have because our schedule changes so much."
  • On his 24 romance with the new FBI agent, played by Annie Wersching: "Given the situation I guess romances do develop over 24 hours. I think born of the respect [they have for each other] there is a tension that develops. Watching Annie do her first fight sequence I went, 'You know, that kinda turned me on too,' so it wasn't hard."

To see what else Kiefer had to say about getting recognized and shooting in Africa, just read more.

  • On the show as a phenomenon: "My name is not Kiefer anymore, it's Jack, and people talk to me like that . . . this character had these unbelievable characteristics but is really human. Nothing in 24 is black and white, it lives in a gray area and people were receptive at that time to accept something like that. It’s something that I am continually trying to figure out."
  • On the show being realistic: "In regards to the not sleeping, we’ve shot 24 for 17-18 hours and can imagine staying up for 24, but in season one he does fall asleep. There are aspects and times when we can play with that, but I haven’t been that focused on it the past few years. One time I walked into a restroom, but they cut it out. It’s not for lack of trying."
  • On shooting in Africa: "I went down to South Africa with a lot of prejudgments, I was very strongly against apartheid, I was aware that even with new government an unbelievable portion of the population is living in poverty and that population is [mostly] black . . . But when I started working with these nine children I was startled by how aware they are and how much joy they have. They took us into the townships with no running water or paved roads, and it made me take a serious look at myself and some of the things I might complain about . . . How unbelievably warm and affectionate these children were was really inspiring."