Jack Bauer is coming back – Fox is rebooting the conspiracy, real-time thriller series 24 for a 12-episode TV "event," starting in May. And Kiefer Sutherland, who played the intense, sometimes sadistic counter terrorism agent Jack, says he's nervous about it.
"It was nine years I spent doing this [character]. And I'm terrified going back to it," Sutherland said here at the TV Critics Winter Press Tour. "I used to be terrified between seasons, actually. Without patting ourselves on the back, we made eight seasons of great TV. To open it up again and possibly failing to make great TV, is frightening. Don't want to disappoint a very loyal audience. I'm about as anxious and wound-up as I've been in a long time."
When we last saw Jack Bauer four years ago at the official end of 24, he was on the run, a fugitive in hiding. In the new "event" series, called 24: Live Another Day, he's still being hunted. Producer Howard Gordon, who went on from 24 to be the creative force behind Homeland, says Jack is still on the run, and the CIA want him captured. But it's a very contemporary storyline.
"This is about Jack and where he is 12 years after we first met him. [24 began airing in 2001, and was viewed as an emphatically post-9/11 thriller.] The drone issue is a backdrop. Chloe [Jack's technical wizard sidekick] has changed. She turned against the government and the CIA. She's now an Edward Snowden kind of figure. Her issue is free flow of information."
Mary Lynn Rajskub, who played Chloe O'Brian, said she was taken aback by the social media campaign to ensure she was part of the 24 revival. "It was very strange seeing this Twitter campaign and there I was waiting to hear if I was even in it. So I called Kiefer and he said, 'Mary Lynn who?' Kidding, kidding! I'm very pleased to do this. Who wouldn't be? Chloe is loved."
It was revealed that much of the action will take place in London, England. And a plot point will be a secret deal being made by the president of the United States with the prime minister of England. Sutherland says shooting in London is a huge challenge, but he likes it there.
"I was born in London. Spent huge parts of my life there. Shooting will be difficult there, we all know that. Traffic is terrible there. I'm sure we'll be hated by a large portion of the population there, interrupting their city, blowing things up."
Gordon describes the character of Jack Bauer as, "A Rorschach test. He tests people's perceptions of dealing with terrorism. He's a character who has been politicized by everybody. But, with this 24, it's clear the world is more complex than when we began in 2001."
It is, and the show's fictional Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) migh seem less authentic now than when it arrived on TV in 2001. But as the apparently nervous Sutherland asserts, "We have found a place to emotionally and physically locate Jack."