Kiefer Sutherland: You Ask The Questions

Would you cut it as a government agent? And what would you do in your dream 24 hours?
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The Independent Online

Kiefer Sutherland was born in London in 1966, the son of veteran actor Donald Sutherland. He cultivated a bad boy image throughout the 1980s, playing a gang leader in Stand By Me and a vampire rebel in The Lost Boys. After learning to ride in The Three Musketeers, he took time out of Hollywood during the 1990s to work on a 900-acre ranch in Montana. He returned to acting in 2001, playing tough counter-terrorism agent Jack Bauer in the real-time television drama 24, a role for which he won a Golden Globe. Twice divorced, he has one daughter and lives in Los Angeles.

Kiefer Sutherland was born in London in 1966, the son of veteran actor Donald Sutherland. He cultivated a bad boy image throughout the 1980s, playing a gang leader in Stand By Me and a vampire rebel in The Lost Boys. After learning to ride in The Three Musketeers, he took time out of Hollywood during the 1990s to work on a 900-acre ranch in Montana. He returned to acting in 2001, playing tough counter-terrorism agent Jack Bauer in the real-time television drama 24, a role for which he won a Golden Globe. Twice divorced, he has one daughter and lives in Los Angeles.

Describe your dream 24 hours.
JACK CUNNINGHAM, OXFORD

A dream 24 hours? I've spent so long focusing on what the worst possible 24 hours would be, I don't think I've even thought of this as a question. There are a lot of things I really enjoy. Maybe I'd sleep because I don't get much of that with the show taking as long to shoot as it does. One of the things that I've missed more than anything since I started the show is having the time to get together with friends, and have a great dinner with lots of drinks. So I guess an ideal 24 hours would centre around a big dinner like that. And I'd probably fall in love in those 24 hours. I am looking for someone really special, I think on some level we all are, aren't we? I'd combine the two things, by taking the lucky lady for a special dinner and making her meet all my friends.

Would you cut it as a real government agent?
MATTHEW BROWN, BY EMAIL

Personally? No. I wouldn't like to be able to - I like what I get to do now. I've spent 20-odd years working as an actor and that's what I want to do.

Kiefer William Frederick Dempsey George Rufus Sutherland, is there any reason why you named your daughter just Sarah?
ZOE LEIGH, CAMBRIDGE

Her name is Sarah Jude (Jude after my best friend, Jude Ironside) because that was what we thought fit when we saw her. I was named after friends and family and I think it's pretty funny that I have such a long name, it doesn't really fit on the Green card. I think the only documents my full name fits on are my British passport and birth certificate.

What's 24 hours on the set of 24 like?
ASHWIN FAROOQI, BY EMAIL

We work anything from 13 to 15 of those 24 hours. I have to tell you, so much of what we do on the show is incredibly exciting for me. You get your scripts and then we work on different ways of interpreting the material. It's always been a very creative process, because we get to work with such wonderful other actors, and our director John Cassar, does such a fantastic job. Because of how much we require in order to stay on schedule to shoot every day, the energy on set in many ways replicates the energy of the show. It's kind of drastic, but out of that comes incredible energy and excitement. Everybody's got their own style of working and one of the really fortunate things for us is that when we all come together we complement each other. In any 24 hours we have all that, and then usually go home and get ready for the next day. We do this every day for 10 months straight.

Aside from acting and film-making, which one of your interests gives you greatest pleasure?
LINDA STACEY, BY EMAIL

My record label, Ironworks, which I started with a friend of mine, Jude Cole. We sign rock'n'roll bands and have managed to help out a few bands, help them find their way on to larger tours and sign with record labels. It's been incredibly rewarding. One of the bands, Lighthouse, have done very well in the States, and they actually played England a couple of weeks ago.

Have you ever changed the plot of 24?
SALLY WINTERS, SOUTHAMPTON

Out of the hundred or so suggestions I've made, maybe two or three have ever stuck. Most of my ideas reflect what we're doing at the time but the writers are working on episodes far ahead of what we're shooting and, besides, they have a clear idea of where they want to go with it. I don't get sick of it, though. When I started 24 I worried about how doing my first television show and playing the same character for years at a time, and how it would compare with my experience in film. But I have never found it boring. There's an incredible challenge in trying to create very subtle changes in character over a long period of time and it's been a great experience for me as an actor.

Do you think the format of 24 is staying fresh a few series down the line?
JACQUES GILBERT, DOVER

That's a question you'd have to ask the people who watch it! I know that it's doing incredibly well, every year it does better. We're doing everything we can creatively to maintain the concept and inject it with new storylines that are exciting and make the show new and fresh even within the confines of the real-time concept - this series, we even changed the entire cast halfway through the season. The circumstances are to some extent always going to be the same, you're going to have a character dealing with an aspect of counter-terrorism, who deals with extraordinary situations every day. It's very much like James Bond, he is always the same character but events revolve around that same character in a different way in each film, and he interacts with characters you are not familiar with and that itself creates change. I am certainly not likening Jack Bauer to James Bond, but structurally their situations are similar.

Who's the most interesting person you've met while researching a role?
ANDY HEATH, WOKING

I've talked with a few CIA people and they were fantastic. Obviously our TV show is a TV show and the reality of 24 and the reality of their work are completely different, night and day. But they could describe why they chose to do what they're doing and that helped me as an actor understand why my character makes his choices. It gives you a foundation on which to develop a character and that's incredibly helpful.

You took a few years out to join the rodeo circuit. How does working as an actor compare with working as a cowboy?
PHILIP WARD, NORTHUMBERLAND

They're just oranges and apples. In the rodeo, events are physical. It was much more of an athletic event and while athletics and, certainly, body movement play a huge part in the work of an actor, there are components of acting that are not a reality in rodeo. Rodeo is not about showmanship, it's about how you handle a horse. It's about being effective, about actually being able to accomplish a result in a very short amount of time. The only way that I can compare acting and riding is that when I'm doing anything like that, right beforehand my adrenaline will go up. In the sense that I always have a competitive desire to do what I'm doing to the best of my ability, there's a similarity.

What advice do you give your teenage daughter? Do you think she listens?
IMOGEN FISHER, BY EMAIL

I give my daughter advice daily but I find it hard to explain what exactly I tell her. What kind of advice do you give a child? You try and help them find their way, each child is different and each child has different requirements. There are going to be social aspects of being a teenager that we've all lived through, and so you try to help them find their way through that. I'm very fortunate in that my daughter's an incredibly responsible young person and she's done very well in school, certainly much better than I did when I was her age. She's one of those rare people who gets homework out of the way before she enjoys herself.

I must have seen Stand By Me a hundred times. How many times have you seen it and are you surprised by its enduring popularity?
JOE MOLONEY, LIVERPOOL

I've only seen the film a couple of times. Once when it opened, and once when I watched it with my daughter when she was 11 or 12, and I think she enjoyed it. There's a timeless quality to being that age just before you become a teenager. There's a dynamic in the friendships you have between the ages of 10 and 13 or 14 that is simply different from friendships at any other time in your life. That film beautifully articulates that. Rob Reiner did a beautiful job telling that story and Stephen King did a beautiful job writing it. And for all of those reasons, it's endured.

You were born in Britain, do you feel a tug at your heartstrings when you're visiting, and how often do you come over?
LAURA ALLSOP, BY EMAIL

I absolutely get a tugging at my heartstrings, and I'd like to be able to get there more. Most of my family now lives in Canada, but I have some phenomenal, wonderful friends in the UK and I have a fantastic time when I'm there. What I like about Britain, particularly London, is a combination of the protocol and the history it's based on. It is hard to describe unless you've lived in comparatively young countries such as the United States or Canada for a long time, but there's a kind of a style about London that I've always felt. It's just so different from anywhere else ever. It's nice to go there and put on a suit and have a proper dinner and all of those things.

Series 3 of 24 is on Sky One at 9pm on Sundays

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