In its first season, the Fox-TV hit 24 was so Canadian the cast probably figured, "Hey, two-four, a series about beer!" upon spying the script's title page. The storyline in 2001-02: The wife and daughter of L.A. Counter Terrorist Unit operative Jack Bauer are kidnapped by bad guys plotting to kill a U.S. presidential candidate. For nationalists keeping score, the three leads, Kiefer Sutherland, Leslie Hope and Elisha Cuthbert, were all native daughters and sons -- as Canadian as complaining.
Not only that, the most intriguing femme fatale, Mandy, was Toronto-born Mia Kirshner, who -- talk about serving your country -- had appeared in an Atom Egoyan film ( Exotica) and Road to Avonlea. Director Jon Cassar was also a Torontonian, and cinematographer Rodney Charters got his TV start on the late-1980s Global series, Adderly.
Since Jack Bauer's first day on the job, many other Canadian actors have appeared in the real-time drama. The most unlikely bit of maple-syrup flavouring: Sault Ste. Marie bar band Memory Bank beat out Coldplay and the Flaming Lips to provide a song ( Sirens) to kick-start the 2002-03 season.
Before season six of 24 begins (tomorrow and Monday), let's look back at how a whole bunch of Canadian actors have figured in one of the most popular serials on TV.
Born: 1966, London. Moved to Toronto at age 9. Grandson of former NDP leader Tommy Douglas; son of Donald Sutherland and Shirley Douglas.
Pre-24: Nominated for a Genie for the 1984 film, The Bay Boy. Played tough kid Ace Merrill in Stand by Me. Engaged briefly to Julia Roberts.
24 role: Bauer has lost a wife to terrorists, and his sanity to heroin addiction; halted both a presidential assassination and nuclear war. Moving as carefully as a gunslinger at high noon, Sutherland gives 24 a gravity that keeps the melodrama from spinning into lunacy.
Canuck moment: Contributed two assists on Phil Esposito goals in a celebrity exhibition game a few years ago in Hollywood.
Born: 1965, Halifax
Pre-24: Appeared in Paul Almond film Ups & Downs in 1981; in 1985 had a role in the breathless U.S. evening soap, Knots Landing.
24 role: Jack Bauer's sympathetic first-season wife, Teri Bauer. In the last reel of the first season, CTU double agent Nina Myers guns Teri down. As Stephen King commented recently, " 24 remains fresh because it is regularly watered by the blood of supporting characters . . ."
Canuck moment: Hope says she enjoyed instant rapport with Sutherland, Cuthbert and Kirshner, "because . . . we could swap the same stories and smoke the same cigarettes and talk about the same beer."
Born: 1982, Calgary; grew up in Montreal.
Pre-24: At 15, she co-hosted the YTV series Popular Mechanics for Kids. Impressed Hillary Clinton, who invited Cuthbert to the White House. Moved to L.A. in 2000, giving herself six months to make it; snared role of Kim Bauer her last week in town.
24 role: Jack's danger-prone daughter. Her character was kidnapped, and Elisha clawed by a cougar, in the first season. A purported catfight with Cameron Diaz over Justin Timberlake contributed greatly to her sexpot persona. Last seen on 24 in season five, when dad ordered her boyfriend, Barry, to get Kim out of L.A. for her own good.
Canuck moment: Contributed a blog to NHL.com in 2005. A candid admission of the L.A. Kings fan: "I boo, and I'm not going to lie about it."
Born: 1975, Toronto
Pre-24: Studied Russian literature at McGill before playing a dominatrix in Denys Arcand's Love & Human Remains (1993). Starred as an exotic dancer in Exotica (1994). Later appeared in a Marilyn Manson video remake of Tainted Love.
24 role: Bisexual double agent Mandy in season one. Attempted to assassinate President David Palmer in the last episode of season two. Showed up looking for trouble again late in season four.
Canuck moment: Her father, Sheldon Kirshner, is a correspondent with the Canadian Jewish News.
Born: 1966, Toronto
Pre-24: Earned Genie nominations for performances in Kissed (1996) and Marine Life (2000).
24 role: Played henchman of businessman bad guy Peter Kingsley in season two. Appeared to enjoy seeing Jack tortured, which may explain why he didn't last long.
Canuck moments: Played Jim Coutts, adviser to the prime minister, in the 2002 miniseries Trudeau. Curled in Men with Brooms.
Born: 1969, Woodstock, N.Y. Stepson of Stuart Margolin, a co-star on The Rockford Files.
Pre-24: Appeared in 13 episodes of Da Vinci's Inquest.
24 role: CTU agent Steve Goodrich in season two. Agent Steve wasn't much of a role; he's way better in David Mamet's recent series, The Unit.
Canuck moment: Attended the same private school in Victoria (St. Michaels University School) as basketball superstar Steve Nash and 24 alum Leslie Hope.
Born: 1955, Toronto
Pre-24 apprenticeship: Brilliant as the bedridden mom in 1994's Spanking the Monkey, but it was her turn as an anti-terror strategist in TV's La Femme Nikita that earned her an invitation to Fox's hit drama. Nikita execs Joel Surnow and Robert Cochran later created 24, taking much of the Nikita talent with them.
24-role: CTU L.A. field commander Erin Driscoll in season four. Fires Jack Bauer's ass over his heroin habit (Jack was using in order to infiltrate the narco-terrorist Salazar brothers). Driscoll and Jack share a few Ali-Frazier prefight stare-downs. Driscoll flinches first, collapsing and leaving the series when her daughter dies.
Canuck moment: In the late seventies, Watson went from straddling Tom Berenger in the X-rated Canadian movie, In Praise of Older Women, to kibitzing with Al Waxman in the CBC sitcom King of Kensington.
Pre-24: Charter member of the migration from La Femme Nikita to 24.
24 role: Mysterious Brit Morris O'Brian, formerly a Beverly Hills footwear clerk, comes aboard in season five to help ex-wife Chloe and Jack sort out a mess involving President Charles Logan. Attractive in a creepy sort of way. Presumed to be returning.
Canuck moments: Hosted the CBC / Food Network series The Great Canadian Food Show, where he once did a segment on Ukrainian prairie perogies. Stars in CBC's Little Mosque on the Prairie.
Roger R. Cross
Born: 1966, Christiana, Jamaica; moved to Burnaby, B.C., with family at age 11.
Pre-24: Graduated with aviation degree from Trinity Western University in Langley, B.C. Got involved in TV stunt work while a student.
24 role: Curtis Manning, stolid CTU operator, took three bullets for the team in seasons four and five. Returning for season six, hopefully with a flak jacket.
Canuck moment: Appeared in most every shot-in-B.C. TV drama in the nineties: Neon Rider, The X Files, Sliders, Highlander, Relic Hunter, First Wave.
Born: 1956, Hamilton; grew up in Winnipeg.
Pre-24: Has won several Genie Awards for work from Due South to The Many Trials of One Jane Doe.
24 role: Played Anne Packard, the very personal physician of President Palmer. (Crewson has a thing for presidents, having played Harrison Ford's first lady in the 1997 thriller Air Force One, and the girlfriend of a presidential hopeful in the Robert Altman miniseries, Tanner '88.)
Canuck moment: Won the Lorne Greene acting award at Queen's University.
Born: 1967, Winnipeg
Pre-24: Played Joe, the brooding, hotheaded quarterback on Beverly Hills, 90210.
24 role: Helped Jack out of a few jams in season four, playing SWAT Sgt. Lee Castle, sometimes under the direction of Vancouver's Brad Turner.
Canuck moments: Guest-starred in a 1988 episode of The Beachcombers. Recently hosted CBC's Hockeyville, working with Don Cherry and Ron MacLean.
Born: 1968, Wabush, Nfld.
Pre-24: Appeared in Due South and The Eleventh Hour.
24 role: Was CTU head of field ops, Ronnie Lobell, at start of season four; had a nice, offhand rapport with Jack. Then Doyle advised producers he had role on HBO's Big Love, and Ronnie went out in a burst of gunfire.
Canuck moment: Played a Sudbury carpenter in Ruba Nadda's comedy, Sabah, with Arsinée Khanjian.
Geraint Wyn Davies
Born: 1957, Swansea, Wales; grew up in Ontario.
Pre-24: A regular at Shaw and Stratford, Davies also appeared in countless TV series, including Airwolf and The Littlest Hobo.
24 role: Former CIA agent James Nathanson. Snuffed at the end of season five.
Canuck moment: Played Toronto vampire detective, Nick Knight, in the nineties TV series, Forever Knight.