Kiefer Sutherland's last chance to save the world

24 is drawing to a close, after eight series. It's time for Jack to kick back, Kiefer Sutherland tells James Rampton

Since he burst on to our screens just two months after 9/11, Jack Bauer has lived through nuclear blasts, numerous torture sessions, years of abuse in a Chinese jail, heroin addiction, infection with a weapons-grade virus, countless bullet wounds and even, on one occasion, death, to rescue the planet from oblivion several times over. But now his ordeal is drawing to an end. There will be no more series. Fortunately for those billions of us hooked, the eighth series will be released on DVD on Monday and Jack will soon be battling to prevent nuclear annihilation on the big screen.

So why has 24 held viewers in a vice-like grip over the last decade? "One of the predominant issues that defines where we're at was the attack on the sovereignty of the US on 9/11," says Kiefer Sutherland when I meet him in a hotel in New York's Meatpacking district. "There had never been an attack on continental US before. That was a game-changer. It affected everyone because whatever happens to the US affects everyone.

"One of the reasons 24 is shown in 100 countries, is the number one show in Brazil and Japan and has crossed cultural barriers is because it deals with terrorism. Terrorism is like the school bully – it's the one thing everyone is afraid of and no one can do anything about. There's a sense of helplessness but Jack is doing something about it. However helpless we may feel individually, at least this guy is taking care of business."

The 43-year old Canadian actor is equally cogent on the most controversial aspect of 24, the alacrity with which Jack reaches for the instruments of torture. In Torture Team, Philippe Sands' 2008 book about Guantánamo Bay, Lieutenant Colonel Diane Beaver, a military lawyer from the camp, declared that Jack's attitude, "gave people a lot of ideas". In recognition of the changed mood, in season eight Jack is portrayed as a dinosaur whose brutally coercive approach to interrogation is no longer tolerated. "Howard Gordon [the show's executive producer] said, 'OK, if we're going to be dragged into this debate, let's make it an issue in the show.' So instead of running away from the things being lobbed at us, we caught them and threw them back!"

"My own opinion is that you have to behave the way you'd expect to be treated", says Sutherland. "Within the show, torture is a fantastic device to create drama, but I do not subscribe to it. We have a constitution. I believe in the due process of law and the idea that people are innocent till proven guilty and all the tenets that this country stands for. Am I naive enough to believe that this stuff doesn't go on? Of course it does. Do I agree with it? Absolutely not."

At the same time, Sutherland adds, critics should try to keep things in proportion. "We're working within the context of a fantasy TV show. We get pulled into the news, but 24 is not reality. When Jack jumps out of a building and falls underneath a garbage truck going at 45 miles an hour, we're not telling you to try this at home."

Sutherland admits that it feels "bittersweet" to be bringing the TV series to a close. "But even in the second series, people were saying, 'How many bad days can this guy have?' So, creatively, the series had to end for us to go on and make the film."

So how should things conclude for Jack in the movie? "Do I think he should go off to the countryside and have a perfect life? No!" Rather, the actor envisages his alter ego completing a final mission where he once more defeats the bad guys and averts a nuclear cataclysm. Then on his way home, Sutherland says, "Jack is walking across the street and he gets hit by a car!

"Wouldn't that be a great ending?"

Season 8 of '24' is released on DVD and Blu-ray on 8 November. Season 1 to 8 of '24' plus 'Redemption' is out on DVD on the same day

Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year


Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
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.

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk