BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – Kiefer Sutherland says don’t worry, Jack Bauer fans. That “24” movie will get made, sooner rather than later.
“Yeah, I don’t want to do it with a cane,” says the 45-year-old actor, who played the ruthless anti-terrorist agent Jack Bauer for eight seasons on the Fox action series.
Sutherland was at the Fox network’s Television Critics Association summer press tour party Monday night to promote his latest series, “Touch.” It premiered last winter to good reviews but middle-of-the-pack ratings.
A script for the long-delayed “24” movie just wasn’t ready in time for Sutherland to shoot it during the hiatus from “Touch.” Fox now has production penciled in for next spring.
Sutherland hopes his new series will be hard to schedule around for quite a while. He enjoyed working on the 13-episode winter and spring run. He felt the drama â€” about a father and his 11-year-old emotionally disturbed and mute son (played by David Mazouz) â€” was really hitting its creative stride by the end of that first season.
Executive producer Tim Kring (“Heroes”) says the stakes will be higher when the series returns this fall. Father and son will be on the run. A new character, played by Maria Bello (who starred last fall in the short-lived drama “Prime Suspect”), will join the cast, a move Sutherland could not be more excited about.
“She’s phenomenal,” he says. Bello will play a character with a child facing similar challenges. Conversations between the two struggling parents will help viewers understand things that were difficult to communicate and explain in season one, as Sutherland sees it.
At least one other big name is being added to the cast. Sutherland told reporters it was too early to announce just who that was, but the name being bandied about “is pretty exciting,” he says.
The actor was happy Fox was being patient with the show and pointed out that ratings for “Touch” were actually better in its first season than they were way back at the start of “24.” He feels the new series is reaching a more varied audience than “24” did, with more families as well as younger and older viewers.
The character he plays, ex-reporter Martin Bohn, starts out much meeker than the human hand grenade that was Jack Bauer, but Kring suggests a transformation is taking place.
“We go from a guy who is quintessential everyman,” he says, “to someone who literally goes to a pawn shop and buys a gun with the intention of having to use it.”
Sutherland was asked about his famous father, Donald (mom is actress/activist Shirley Douglas). A week ago, Donald Sutherland turned 77, and Kiefer and his twin sister Rachel got together with their dad to celebrate.
“He’s got an unbelievable sense of humour, one of the best letter writers I’ve ever come across in my life,” says Sutherland.
Of his dad’s films, he singled out “Ordinary People” (1980) as his favourite.
“I remember the first time I met Tim Hutton (who played Sutherland’s son in the movie), I told him that I was jealous that he got to play that scene with him on the porch. I wanted that scene in my life.”
Kiefer grew up more with mom Shirley than dad Donald (the couple were divorced in 1970), but he and his sister still remember the cool Ferrari dad used to use to drive them to nursery school.
“The reason why he sold it was there weren’t two seats for me and my sister. I felt really bad. It was a beautiful car.”
The scariest movie his dad ever made â€” the scariest movie he’s ever seen â€” is “Don’t Look Now” (1973). It wasn’t the horror scenes, however, that caused him to look away the most.
“There was this sex scene between (Sutherland’s father) and Julie Christie,” he recalls. “I remember feeling really awkward that it kind of turned me on. Trying to block my dad out, just watch her.”
When it was suggested that wasn’t hard to do, Sutherland disagreed.
“He was moving all over the place. You’d think you were safe for a second…”
Bill Brioux is a freelance TV columnist based in Brampton, Ont.