Kiefer Sutherland: The man in Mirrors

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Post by kane on Sun Oct 05, 2008 11:31 pm

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Kiefer Sutherland: The man in Mirrors

6:50am Saturday 4th October 2008

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UNLIKE many actors, Kiefer Sutherland doesn't like looking at himself. For one thing, he only has a single mirror in his house.

And for another, he isn't really interested in seeing himself on film. For a star who has a string of hit movies to his name and a successful stint on TV show 24, he is surprisingly down-to-earth.

"I've always thought that I look different in my head than what I see," explains Kiefer.

"I have a hard time looking at myself. I remember I saw Stand By Me for the first time and thought my career was over. I wanted that character to be emblematic of the 1950s and I wanted him to look like Jimmy Dean.

"So in my head when I'm making it, all those things are there. And then I went and saw it and it was me. And I was really disappointed with that. I've always been much happier with what I thought I'd looked like and what I thought I was doing, than looking at the physical reality. I try to avoid it."

The subject has turned to mirrors as it's the title of Kiefer's new film in which he stars as Ben Carson, an ex cop turned security guard who is sent to watch over a creepy abandoned building in New York at night after splitting from his wife and their two kids.

Things take a terrifying turn when he starts seeing scary and violent images in the ornate mirrors which adorn the building's walls.

Worse still, the spirits inside begin to take hold of he and his family's lives, with horrific consequences.

"One of the things that attracted me to this guy is that he's at an all time low," explains Kiefer.

"He's lost his job, he's lost his life, and he can't see his kids. And you see this guy pick himself up by his bootstraps and go and get the job he really doesn't want to take in order to start to try and make enough money so he can take care of his responsibilities, and try to build back up.

"It's hard to do anything right if your confidence is low or your self esteem is low," he adds.

"It's almost impossible. Those are the times are when you say and do stupid things because you're so desperate. And I can't speak for anybody else, but I've certainly been there.

"So to be able to work on something and just feel confident that you know what you're doing, has made a huge difference for me as well. Every time you walk on set, you're going to feel vulnerable because you have to take a chance."

Kiefer, who admits he gets scared 'pretty easily', was keen to work with French director Alexandre Aja and do something in the horror genre away from 24 - he is currently immersed in a gruelling filming schedule for the seventh season of the show.

He ended up filming Mirrors after completing season six of the show, finishing the shoot on weekends.

"Certain opportunities present themselves and you want to take advantage of them," he says about his mammoth workload.

"As an actor, your desire is to illicit a response from an audience. There is no better genre to do that in than this. I can physically move you in your seat.

"For me, I get very affected by films. I have a contract when I see a movie between myself and the film which is that I will surrender and give myself up, suspend my disbelief so it will take me somewhere. And that makes me very vulnerable for a film like this. So it was a lot easier to make the film than to watch it."

Movies aside, it's not been an easy year for the actor. Last winter, Kiefer served a seven-week sentence in a Los Angeles jail following convictions for DUI and violating probation - which he has called a 'dumb mistake'.

This year, he has largely concentrated on 24, admitting that there is talk of a movie version in a couple of years, although it is not clear how long he will continue to play tough counter-terrorist agent Jack Bauer.

What is clear is that 24 certainly came along at the right time. Pre-24, his film career was moving in fits and starts.

For every hit like A Few Good Men, there were flops like The Cowboy Way and Renegades. And along with providing him with a hit series and a Golden Globe, 24 has given Kiefer an education as well as a regular pay check.

"I love what I do. I love acting," he says, smiling.

"The only times I've had to stop was when I couldn't get a job.

"Creating a character is one of the most exciting things. And it was very funny with something like 24.

"I have a little black book and I start writing the pre-history of the character leading up to wherever the script starts, whether it's a play or a film. I will write where the character was born, where they went to school, who his first girlfriend was.

"That used to be my favourite part - the developing of the character, and I used to think, from that point forward - the second you step on the set, all the work is done and now you just have to physically deliver it.

"24 has been the greatest education for me as an actor because I've started to really fall in love and realise just how much I didn't know about physically putting out the work.

"The Olympics was really funny for me to watch," he adds.

"You sit there and realise those swimmers are swimming every day, those runners are running every day and the high jumpers are high jumping every day for four years just to get to this one moment.

"And for the first time in my life I've got to work for seven years straight, day in, day out. And acting is a muscle. To be able to kind of train like that with something that people are enjoying has been an unbelievable gift."

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