Jon Voight talks about playing Jonas Hodges

Jon Voight as Jonas Hodges in 24 Redemption
Jon Voight as Jonas Hodges in 24 Redemption

Do you have any recollections of your time on 24?
The 24 group [were] a really well-oiled team, a real professional crew. And it’s fun to be on the set with these people. They all like each other, they’ve worked very hard with each other, they know how to work – you’re going into this kind of dance, and I just said, ‘Well, here’s what I’ve got to bring to it,’ and I was looking for them to show me how they do it. And when you watch the show, you see a certain style – as an actor, I’m a little bit aware after all these years about cameras and stuff like that and just how they shoot this show, to keep it so alive, and they have long sequences on this show, sometimes with a hand-held camera, and this [was] fun for me. In some ways, it’s like doing the kind of work that you do on stage or in class. You’re playing around and you’re in a dangerous circumstance. You’re not caressing it, just up to here and then to there and then cutting the scene up in little pieces, you’re having a shot at going and doing it. So anyway, it was fun for me to see how they did it and participate. This guy [Voight’s character didn’t] deserve to live [laughs], he’s as bad as it gets. He’s an evil force, this guy. Evil people really don’t know they’re evil. They have a rationalization for what they do. Protecting the country – I think he thinks he’s doing that, but he’s very far gone, this guy. But you know, it’s fun, too, because I know being on the other side, the leading man, you want to have something to go up against, you want to have a formidable force against you. If somebody comes on and doesn’t give you anything, you’re in trouble, things disappear and you have to do it on your own. But I think I provided a lot of energy for the show. I think it [24] had a wonderful run and left a tremendous impression.

You’ve primarily been a film actor for many years. 24 was your first season-long series gig in decades. Was that bracing or difficult for you?
First of all, it was a challenge. The idea of doing episodic was an interesting idea. I adapt very easily to formats. I like different formats. I really like those long television films, maybe six-hour miniseries – I like that form, it takes a certain kind of writing and a certain kind of work – and of course I like film. Sometimes I think we get a little spoiled with film, because we become so careful and stuff like that. It’s more difficult. You wait a long time, you don’t get a chance to do wonderful scenes, you’re doing pieces and you’re waiting for lighting. I love the beautiful films that they make. But [episodic television], it was coming to act in a certain way. You had to be very prepared and then you go in and before you know it, the camera’s going and you’re doing it. ‘Let’s go, let’s give it a shot.’ Not a lot of rehearsal. Sometimes that’s good.

It’s all acting. You have to know what you’re doing. And I’m so experienced – I have done so many kinds of things, so although every scene is new, it’s not like I’m in totally new territory ever, and I know what’s required of me, and I know when I’m taking a shot and making an experiment, too, and that’s good, too – “Let’s try this” or “Let’s see how this works.”

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