24: Live Another Day – Kiefer Sutherland on the return of Jack Bauer

After four years away, Kiefer Sutherland is back playing our favourite counter-terrorist agent in a new series. This time, he is meaner than ever, the star tells James Rampton

Four years ago, I was lucky enough to attend the premiere of the opening episode of the eighth series of 24 in New York. As the house lights came up, the audience began chanting: "We want more! We want more!" Well, now their wish has been granted. As the posters all over the country have been reminding us: Jack's back.

The un-killable Counter Terrorist Unit agent Jack Bauer, who in the interim has remained hugely popular with DVD "binge-watchers", returns after a four-year hiatus to try to foil another terrorist plot that threatens to bring about the end of Western civilisation as we know it.

Kiefer Sutherland, the star of 24, confesses that after agreeing to reprise his most celebrated role, "For the next six months I was absolutely terrified about why I'd opened this can of worms once more. But once we got on set, within two or three days, I felt right at home again."

24's groundbreaking storytelling technique – the show pioneered the "real time" format with a ticking clock constantly onscreen – makes this the most viscerally exciting, nay addictive show on TV. With its outlandish plots, outrageous cliffhangers and brilliant twists (its motto may as well be, "trust no one, especially the person you think you can trust the most"), the show has hooked fans all over the globe. One well-known aficionado, President George W Bush, once told regular 24 cast member Carlos Bernard that, "All I can do is watch that show of yours."

I meet Sutherland on the set of the ninth season, 24: Live Another Day, which starts tomorrow on Sky1 HD. It is being shot in a suitably distressed, derelict factory in west London. Sutherland, who was born in London, sums up the plot of 24: Live Another Day thus: "Jack will have a crappy day and be tested in a thousand different ways!"

Since the end of the last series in 2010, Jack has been lying low in Eastern Europe. But he resurfaces in London when he hears of a terrorist plan to wreak havoc. Yet again, he has just 24 hours to save the world.

He teams up with his long-time cohort, geeky computer genius and firm fan favourite, Chloe O'Brian (42-year-old Mary Lynn Rajskub).

The show has always attracted obsessive fans. Some of the more out-there aficionados enjoy playing the 24 drinking game, in which they have to neck an alcoholic beverage every time Jack says his celebrated catchphrase, "Dammit, Chloe!"

Sutherland is far more good-humoured than his famously tight-lipped alter ego – Jack is a man who has not knowingly cracked a smile in the past 13 years. The actor owns up that in the past he has mischievously ad-libbed the catchphrase many times per episode – with predictably messy results in sitting rooms around the world.

But for all the super fans' over-the-top behaviour, Sutherland embraces their fixation with the show. The star, who is sitting across the table from me in the sort of anonymous interview room in which Jack has conducted some of his more, er, "vigorous" interrogations, says that, "In the past when fans in the street would call out to me, 'Jack!', I didn't respond.

"But now I'm proud of it. I've spent a third of my professional life doing this show, and I love the fact that people adore it. Nobody puts on a play and doesn't care if just three people show up. This show is making up for the times in my life that that's happened to me!"

The actor, who is ridiculously fit and looks much younger than his 47 years, goes on to assess what state Jack is in at the beginning of 24: Live Another Day. "I was telling a friend the other day that this time Jack is going to be meaner than he's ever been before. My friend asked, 'Is that possible?' Oh yeah, it is!

"The reason is that is by the end of season eight, the CIA want to eradicate him, he is estranged from his daughter, he will never see his granddaughter again, he has lost his great love Renee Walker, and is on the run from the country he spent his life serving. He's spent the last four years hiding out in Eastern Europe – all of those things would piss me off!"

But as the season unfolds, "He progresses from that very hard place. Water slowly starts to trickle out of little fissures in the rock. I think it's very interesting to watch someone's difficulty as they have to confront the reality of who they are."

The character of Jack has over the years stirred up some controversy – his excessive use of torture, for instance, triggered a lot of criticism. But for all that, he remains a widely loved character.

Michael Wincott as Adrian Cross and Mary Lynn Rajskub as Chloe O’Brian Michael Wincott as Adrian Cross and Mary Lynn Rajskub as Chloe O’Brian So just why, despite everything, is Jack so enduringly popular? Perhaps it is because we can all identify with his fallibility in the face of impossibly tough decisions. Sutherland explains that the almost insoluble ethical dilemmas Jack confronts on an hourly basis are, "the root of the show. When I was 11, I did a play in Los Angeles called Throne of Straw.

"The play was set in the Lodz Ghetto during the Second World War. It was about an elderly Jewish man in charge of selecting people to be sent from Lodz to Auschwitz. He thought that if he could protect the children for bit longer, then the Nazis might not eradicate every Jew. Even at the age of 11, I had unbelievable empathy for that character. I feel the same for Jack."

Sutherland continues that, "Jack is forced to make these impossible decisions – to save 1,000 people, are these 10 people an acceptable loss? You can't win. We all feel that. We think, 'I've got a promotion and a raise. It will mean I see less of the kids, but I can put them through private school.' No one wins cleanly.

"Our lives are complicated. Jack's experiences are ridiculously out of proportion, but one of his most relatable qualities is that nothing in his life is ever clean. I think people relate to that."

So where next for Jack Bauer? Could he be smuggled into Eastern Europe to try to sort out the unrest in Ukraine? "There you go!" exclaims Rajskub. "24 has always mirrored reality. You've got the next series right there!"

'24: Live Another Day' starts on Wednesday at 9pm on Sky1 HD

Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl

First look at Oscar winner as transgender artistfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Season three of 'House of Cards' will be returning later this month

TV reviewHouse of Cards returns to Netflix
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford will play Rick Deckard once again for the Blade Runner sequel

film review
Arts and Entertainment
The modern Thunderbirds: L-R, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John in front of their home, the exotic Tracy Island

Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars ceremony 2015 will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
Oscars 2015A quiz to whet your appetite for tonight’s 87th Academy Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Sigourney Weaver, as Ripley, in Alien; critics have branded the naming of action movie network Movies4Men as “offensive” and “demographic box-ticking gone mad”.
TVNaming of action movie network Movies4Men sparks outrage
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Kristen Stewart reacts after receiving the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award for her role in 'Sils Maria' at the 40th annual Cesar awards
A lost Sherlock Holmes story has been unearthed
arts + ents Walter Elliot, an 80-year-old historian, found it in his attic,
Arts and Entertainment
Margot Robbie rose to fame starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street

Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days

Arts and Entertainment
Right note: Sam Haywood with Simon Usborne page turning
musicSimon Usborne discovers it is under threat from the accursed iPad
Arts and Entertainment
A life-size sculpture by Nick Reynolds depicting singer Pete Doherty on a crucifix hangs in St Marylebone church
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Escalating tension: Tang Wei and Chris Hemsworth in ‘Blackhat’
filmReview: Chris Hemsworth stars as a convicted hacker in Blackhat
Arts and Entertainment

Oscar voter speaks out

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars race for Best Picture will be the battle between Boyhood and Birdman

Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn (Claire Foy), Thomas Cromwell (Mark Rylance)
tvReview: Wolf Hall
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Meighan of Kasabian collects the Best Album Award
Arts and Entertainment
Best supporting stylist: the late L’Wren Scott dressed Nicole Kidman in 1997
Arts and Entertainment
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey


Arts and Entertainment
Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) and Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor)
tv occurred in the crucial final scene
Arts and Entertainment
Glasgow wanted to demolish its Red Road flats last year
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower