Kiefer Sutherland Bids Jack Bauer Goodbye
It's been a tough eight days for Jack Bauer. He's been shot, beaten, stabbed, tortured; he has lost his wife, lost his girlfriend, had his daughter kidnapped and been declared a traitor to his country.
But Bauer is finally getting a day off. On Monday, Fox TV will broadcast the final episode of its long-running hit program 24.
Each season of the series was composed of 24 episodes, a real-time progression through a single day. Looking back, Kiefer Sutherland, who plays Bauer, says he missed the time gimmick when he first read the script.
"The very first page said, 'All events take place in real time.' And I didn't get that. I was like, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah, what's my part?’” Sutherland tells NPR's Scott Simon. "So I can actually say that the characters matter to me the most."
"It mattered a great deal to me, the interaction between he and his wife and the fact that that was a failed marriage, and the fact that he couldn't take care of his daughter."
The show debuted less than two months after Sept. 11, 2001, a coincidence that irrevocably linked fictional events in the story with the very real debates over issues of terrorism, torture and the American character.
"One of the things that I've tried to explain for years is that this was all written two years prior to 9/11," Sutherland says. "We had shot half of our season prior to 9/11. This was in the fantasy of two writers."
He'd like the legacy of the show to be that fantasy, not the reflection of the conflicts the real world faced at the time.
"For those of us who are making this show, we certainly never correlated what we were doing — which was a television show — to anything that anybody was going through in real life," Sutherland says. "It was only later that people made those kind of parallels — and for us, always kind of embarrassingly so."
Bauer's actions in the series sealed his reputation as a hero who got the job done by any means necessary. This led to criticism that 24 encouraged torture.
"I think that's ludicrous," Sutherland says. "It's a television show, I mean, give me a break."
But he acknowledges the world has changed. "America is not in the same place as it certainly was when we started the show," he says. "But the reality is, this country has a very sound and strong Constitution and that should be followed, and I subscribe to that."