24 hour party survivor

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Post by kane on Sun Sep 14, 2008 10:50 pm

Here is a story about Kiefer. http://www.sundayherald.com/arts/arts/display.var.2446075.0.0.php

24 hour party survivor

You'd think that Keifer Sutherland would have turned his back on drink after it almost destroyed his career. You'd be wrong. Will Lawrence meets the star saved by Jack Bauer and 24
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ACCORDING TO Kiefer Sutherland's mum, actress Shirley Douglas, her son's school reports revealed much about her famous child. "It's been many years since we had a boy who showed so much leadership," wrote one bemused tutor. "It's just a shame that it's leading him in the wrong directions."

That observation, his often exasperated mother declared, would prove remarkably prescient. Her son's unswerving tenacity and keen intelligence saw his star rise quickly - as a teenager, his first leading role, in 1984's The Bay Boy, earned universal praise - and yet his rebellious, highly individual nature seemed destined to lead him astray.

Despite emerging as arguably the leading light among a group of Hollywood actors dubbed the Brat Pack (a group that included Rob Lowe, Charlie Sheen and Sheen's brother Emilio Estevez), by the early 1990s Sutherland was making headlines courtesy of his personal life rather than his professional. Newspaper attention switched to his chequered love life: two short-lived marriages dissolved (the first to Camelia Kath, the second to Kelly Winn) as did an engagement to pretty woman Julia Roberts, which she called off just a few days before the wedding. Upon losing his runaway bride, Sutherland sank into extended bouts of boozing and brawling and even contemplated quitting acting altogether, riding off into the distance and joining the rowdy, testosterone-fuelled crew on America's rodeo circuit.

"I remember taking that break in the 1990s," he tells me, "but I couldn't stay away - I'm really happy when I'm acting. And what a rude awakening I got when I went back.

"I remember going to see loads of casting agents after the rodeo thing, bowling in there, saying Hey, I'm Kiefer Sutherland', and they were like, So what?' Honestly, it was really hard at the time. Thank God for my saving grace. Thank God for Jack Bauer."

Indeed. Just as the character of Jack Bauer has evolved into an icon of modern storytelling, the television show in which he features, the gritty crime drama 24, has done much to establish the medium as the modern home of Hollywood drama. With major studios making fewer films than 10 years ago (and pouring the majority of their funding into big special-effects computers rather than well-crafted scripts), television has plugged the drama gap. And 24 led the way.

"Honestly, around the time before I was approached for 24, I wasn't even getting close to the theatrical roles I wanted," he concedes. "And I think I really would have stopped working had that carried on, because there are some films I've done over my career which I am really proud of.

"There are some other films that I did, just to try and make a living, that I wasn't so proud of, yet I thought, You've got to stop this because it will ultimately ruin all the good things that you did'."

In truth, while many will decry the likes of action fare such as Freeway or Desert Saints, his early work is studded with iconic characters, including his scene-stealing, matchstick-chewing bully in 1986's Stand By Me and the mixed up, spiky-haired antagonist and vampire leader David in The Lost Boys, which he shot the year after.

His move into big-budget filmmaking towards the end of the 1980s, meanwhile, saw him go on to star in hits like Flatliners and A Few Good Men. More recently, he shone in 1996's A Time To Kill and again in 1998's stylish sci-fi Dark City.

"Dark City of course I'm proud of, but there wasn't a lot of stuff coming my way back then," continues Sutherland. "Then 24 came along and, while I did the pilot, I never thought anyone would pick it up because it was really that different, with the real-time aspect and all these different kinds of qualities. For me it was such a blessing from the work perspective, although, in fairness, it took off in the UK before it took off anywhere else.

"It's funny, I remember at the time reading an article that was headlined Kiefer Sutherland back from the dead' or something similar. I thought, Okay, I knew I was in trouble, but I didn't think it was that bad ...'"

How many Hollywood kingpins regarded him as a dead man walking prior to 24 is difficult to call, but his television role has certainly introduced Sutherland, now 41 years old, to a whole new audience. The actor wears his gratitude on his sleeve.

As we banter away in a LA hotel suite, he comes across as honest, modest and thoroughly likeable. He apologises for arriving all of two minutes late, and again for having to leave all of three minutes early. When it comes to his life and career, however, he remains entirely unapologetic.

"Do I regret the wild times?" he asks. "Of course not." He flashes a quick smile. "Not that they are dead now, of course. For me, you've got one shot at it, you've got one life and you should do everything you can to make the most of it.

"Really, despite what people think, I'm a happy guy. I've got angry, punched walls and people, but that's a part of being human," says Sutherland.

"The way I see it, a very dear friend of mine passed away a couple of years ago and on his tombstone is one of the funniest epitaphs I've ever seen. Here lies so and so,' it says. Didn't miss much.' Ok, I thought, I understand that - I'd like mine to say something similar at the end of it all."

As avid readers of the gossip sheets will know, Sutherland still enjoys a drink and at the tail-end of last year, he was arrested and sentenced to 48 days detention for drink-driving. According to his guards at Glendale City Jail, he was a model prisoner.

Given his penchant for honesty, how does he feel when he looks back at his stint inside? "Are you talking about my hiccup?" he smiles. "Well, that's just something you have to go through and kind of ride out. I made a stupid mistake and just wanted to get through it." So he didn't find the experience traumatic in any way? "No," he insists. "I had a lot of stuff I wanted to think through anyway."

Born in London back in 1966, Kiefer Sutherland arrived seven minutes before his twin sister Rachel. Indeed, he was far from conventional even from the outset, with one eye coloured blue and the other coloured green. He was, by all accounts, a striking baby. He and his sister were born to a family of high achievers. Their mother and father (the latter being Donald Sutherland) were both accomplished actors, while their maternal grandfather founded Canada's national health system. "I hold a Canadian passport and I'm very proud of my heritage," he smiles.

His acting heritage, however, is something with which he has struggled at times. He insists that when he was growing up - his parents divorced in 1971 - he was never fully aware of his father's job. "We used to go to baseball games and people would ask for his autograph, so I knew he was famous," says Sutherland, "but I never really knew why. I hadn't seen his movies - I was too young to go to see them at the theatre and this was long before DVD and video. I'd pretend that I was really embarrassed by it all, but really I thought it was pretty cool.

"Eventually, I saw my dad's work and I really remember seeing Ordinary People (debut director Robert Redford's affecting 1980 Best Picture Oscar-winner) when I was a little older. I was incredibly moved. To see my father portraying such sensitivity and hurt was inspiring to me. There's that scene when he and his son are talking on the porch and I thought it was so beautiful. I remember thinking I'd like that conversation with dad.' Really, that film broke my heart; I think to some degree, that character, I've always wished that was me."

Indeed, once Sutherland discovered his father's oeuvre, he suffered something of an overdose as he woke up to the depth of his progenitor's talent. The two have "become close" over the years, but, says the younger Sutherland, "I think I was intimidated at first, although as I got older and came to realise that I have talent, I saw no reasons to think that I couldn't be just as good as my dad."

Deciding that acting was to be his chosen path, the young Sutherland bailed out of theatre school and eschewed his parents' help as he tried to make his own mark. "Everyone presumes that having parents in the industry opened a lot of doors for me. That's bollocks. It didn't help. Some producers would think it was too gimmicky, casting someone with a famous last name. Then there was the fact that I looked like my dad, and that would intrude. In some ways being a Sutherland was a curse."

Actually, his mother secretly helped her son acquire his first agent, while his father used his influence to secure his son's screen debut in Max Dugan Returns (1983), but the rest he did for himself. "I found theatre school very self-indulgent," he smiles. "They say that the way to become a really good actor is to tell them everything about yourself, all your fears and insecurities. For me, that kind of evil theatre crap is really offensive."

Striking out on his own, Sutherland landed his first lead role at the age of 16, starring in The Bay Boy. The film's director, Daniel Petrie, spoke of Sutherland possessing a surprising maturity, a comment that has been repeated often over the years. His director on teen hits The Lost Boys and Flatliners, Joel Schumacher, claimed he had an "old soul". Meg Ryan said the same. As did Julia Roberts.

Old soul or not, he has certainly brought a great deal of maturity, and no little talent, to many of his roles. This month he returns to the big screen in the horror movie Mirrors, a film adapted by Switchblade Romance director Alexandre Aja from a South Korean chiller, Into The Mirror. Sutherland plays a security guard forced into solving a mystery by a strange force that resides within the mirrors at the burned-out department store where he works.

"It was a lot easier for me to make it than it was for me to watch it," he laughs, "because horror films I have to take in doses. I really enjoy them but they stay with me for a long time. I remember there was a film when I was about 12 years old called The Car, and I watched it recently and I couldn't believe that this film actually scared me. But when I was 12, I lived in a flat on the 14th floor and I still thought that this car would come and run me over in my room."

Sutherland shot Mirrors after he'd finished the sixth season of 24 - "I literally left set and got on the plane" - and is now back working on the show, with season seven due for release early next year. Each show is a 10-month gig, leaving its star precious little time for film-making. "Hey, I'd love to say that film-makers were knocking my door down to get me during those two months," he laughs, "but movies generally take longer, so it's not been easy. I guess we'll stop on 24 when we do the perfect season. So far that's not happened.

"When I do have spare time, my daughter and my family keep me busy. I have my daughter Sarah, from his second marriage and I have a grandson now, named Hamish, courtesy of stepdaughter Michelle from his first marriage who is very funny. Also, I have a small record label that I'm quite involved in. I'm a huge music fan and that's something which is of real interest to me."

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