What a difference a day makes

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Post by kane on Sat Mar 21, 2009 1:59 pm

Source: www.herald.ie/entertainment

What a difference a day makes
It's taken Kiefer Sutherland two decades of big-screen hits and misses before 24 finally made him a household name. "I'm very aware of how lucky I've been," Hollywood's coolest grandad tells Paul Byrne

A lot can happen in 24 hours. For one, you can become an overnight sensation. Just ask Kiefer Sutherland. "I realise, every single day, that getting the role of Jack Bauer in 24 pretty much changed my life," says the 42-year-old actor.

"I'm very aware of how lucky I've been. Not that my life was bad beforehand, of course, but, 24 just threw a big bucket of glitter over everything."

Yep, Kiefer Sutherland's life has been a pretty interesting one. Then again, how could it not be, growing up the son of one of cinema's most celebrated character actors (take a bow, Donald Sutherland, star of such classics as Don't Look Now, M*A*S*H, The Dirty Dozen and Klute) and an actress verging on Canadian royalty (curtsey, Shirley Jean Douglas, actor, activist, and daughter of Tommy, a former Canadian statesman and Premier of Saskatchewan).

Inevitably, young (deep breath) Kiefer joined the family business, making a name for himself as part of the 1980s Brat Pack in such movies as The Lost Boys, Young Guns and Flatliners before enduring that long, slow fade to the VIP lounge of increasingly seedy nightclubs that most of the Brat Packers suffered.

And then, in 2001, along came 24, Kiefer's portrayal of US government agent Jack Bauer, fighting the good fight against domestic threats, and always, miraculously, finding himself with a 24-hour countdown to doom and major gloom.

Currently, the second longest-running espionage series in American television, 24 is expected to beat Mission: Impossible for highest number of episodes when it airs its 172nd hour in January 2010, and will overtake The Avengers for longevity of broadcast on March 20 of next year, too.

When I met up with Kiefer Sutherland, he was immensely charming, self-effacing and relaxed. Just as you would expect of a man who's seen and lived the good, the bad and the ugly sides of Hollywood life.

PAUL BYRNE: You made your screen debut in 1983 so you weren't exactly new to this game when fame and fortune arrived in the form of 24. Did the phenomenal success of the show nonetheless catch you by surprise?

KIEFER SUTHERLAND: Well, I've been doing it long enough to know that you certainly don't expect the kind of genie in a bottle that 24 became. Because you're aware of the fact that so many different elements have to come together, and almost all of those elements are out of your control.

Certainly by the time I started 24, my life had been tempered by so many serious slides [laughs] in my career, that when people did actually respond to it so well, I was just so unbelievably grateful for that, for that opportunity. It made me, and the rest of crew and cast, work that much harder, because we really did understand how lucky we were.

You haven't quite lost your run of serious slides, or dives, though, as one famous clip out there of you diving into a hotel lobby Christmas tree proves...

Well, I'm much more mature, and far more responsible, than I've ever been before, but, you know, I still like to have some fun.

You'll be glad to hear that the tree survived, and is now sitting peacefully on top of a hill overlooking some woods.

If I'd been in Ireland, in that state, who knows what would have happened?

Have you ever been in Ireland, in that state?

Actually, I have. It was the first trip I really took by myself. I was never a great traveller -- almost all the travelling I did was for work -- but, I was about 26 years old, and I was kind of embarrassed by that.

One place I always wanted to go was Ireland, so, I literally got a backpack, got on a plane, had no plans about where I was going, and I ended up in a restaurant that was owned by Bono's brother in Dublin. I had met Bono in the US before and he came by.

It was just one of those fantastic three-week trips; I started in Dublin, went down to Dingle, back up to Galway, and all of the towns in-between. Stayed in Limerick for three days, and everyone thinks I'm crazy, but I love that town.

Well, Limerick is a Jack Bauer kind of town. . .

It is, it is. The Olympics were on, and one of my favourite stories ever happened there. I was sitting next to a guy in a pub, and he had a tracksuit on, from the Olympics, and I said: 'That was pretty fast, that you got that; I didn't think they were selling them yet.'

And he said: 'I'm on the Olympics team'.

I said: 'No, you're not, the Olympics are in Barcelona. . .' or wherever they were at the time.

And he said: 'I am'. The bartender nodded.

So I said, 'What event?'

And he said: 'Swimming', and I looked up at the TV in the pub, and the swimming was on.

I said: 'No you're not -- they're swimming, right now'.

And he went, 'Well, I didn't do well, did I!?'.

He'd been kicked out in the first round, so he and I spent the better part of the evening together. I just had the most wonderful time there. And it started me travelling a lot more. . .

You've managed to squeeze one or two other projects in around the 24 shoot, including the upcoming 3D B-movie spoof, Monsters vs Aliens. Jeffrey Katzenberg, the head at DreamWorks Animation, tends to nab his A-list voice cast by going after big stars with little kids, but your offspring are all in their teens and beyond, so, I'm guessing that wasn't the angle with you. . ?

It wasn't. He didn't know that I have a four-year- old grandchild, so that's who I'm actually taking to the opening, and I can't wait for him to see it.

Thanks. My eldest daughter married a boy from Scotland, in Edinburgh, about five years ago, and they have a young boy named Hamish, and he's almost four years old. So, yeah...

There's talk of a 24 movie, which was slotted and then shelved last year, thanks to the writers' strike. Still in the pipeline?

I think so, but we have to finish the series before we do it. It would be too much to ask the writers to throw a movie into the mix now as well!

Season 7 of 24 is currently on a TV screen near you; Monsters vs Aliens hits Irish cinemas April 3

- Paul Byrne

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