Are you enjoying your time in Vegas?
I am enjoying my time in Vegas. Went to a great show last night, and went out to a few club spots. You know, tore it up a little bit, but it was good.
Now obviously you have 24 Season Six coming, and I’m assuming you can’t say too much…
You know that!
Well, we’ve seen the previews, so we have some ideas. Can you give a little bit of a hint at what might be going on?
There’s gonna be a lot of explosions. They’ll be some people getting killed. They’ll be a lot of gunfire. And yeah! No, Curtis will break out a little bit. You’ll see him do something a little out of character. But it’s hot. It’s good.
What was it like for you to join the show in its fourth season?
You know, it was interesting. It was great. I liked the show personally, before they called me about reading for it. And season four was almost like a fresh start. They brought in basically a whole new cast at that point. We were all new. So we just came in and we had this great camaraderie, instantly. Myself, Louis [Lombardi], Alberta [Watson], Lana [Parrilla], we all just kind of got along right off. And it felt great. We knew we were doing something that was good. We didn’t know that it would take off like it did, because it had always been a cult hit, but it had never gone to that mainstream popularity until season four. And all of the sudden, in the middle of that, it started going up, and it was like, “Whoa!” And then the end of season four, people got the DVD finally, and they said, “Oh my god!” And season five, as you know, just took us to over the top.
Yeah, I was gonna say that with season five especially, it seemed like the show got more critical acclaim than ever, and it won the Emmy.
It won, yeah!
What do you think it was that sort of clicked in that season?
I think the show almost got credit a year later. Because a lot of people say they can’t watch it during the year, and they’ll buy the DVD and watch the entire season through. So some people don’t really get to appreciate it until later. And we don’t premiere until January, so a lot of people don’t really give it credit until the end of that season. And so I think once people had a chance to see it, and once your friends tell you, “Oh, you should check this show. It’s pretty hot!” Once they see it, in general, you’re hooked, is the consensus I hear out there. I think it’s just the quality of the writing and the performances on top of it all just came together, man. It’s nice.
Your show is of course infamous for killing characters…
Last season especially, it seemed like every week someone died.
At a certain point, it became, “Whew, Curtis made it through another mission!”
[Laughs] Curtis lived!
Are you the same way with the scripts as the viewers are with the show; nervous to see if you’re dying or not?
Honestly, no. I said from day one… People would mention that; “Oh, you could get killed on the show.” I said, “Yeah, but you know what, this is what we do as actors.” We finish a gig, then we move on to the next one. So 24 will end, and I’ll move on to another show, and I’ll do something else, and it’ll be all good. I’ve had two great years on it, and this is my third year. Shoot, it’s all good!
You seem like a fun guy, but your character on the show is very serious.
[in mock-serious voice] Yeah, he’s a serious, serious man. Too dang serious! Gotta get that guy a little action. We’ve got to take him to Vegas. That would be fun! Curtis Manning in Vegas!
Maybe one season of 24 can just be the Curtis and the guys hanging out for a day in Vegas.
Can you imagine him? His eyes darting everywhere, because he’s picking up on everything, watching out. Some guy makes the wrong movie and wham, he’s breaking their neck or something. That would be funny. That would be a good sketch! Curtis in Vegas. He’s going crazy. A few drinks, and “Woooo!” That would be hilarious. That would be classic.
On the show you have to deal with a lot of technical issues and tons of continuity, but are you able to keep a loose and fun mood on the set sometimes?
We do. We do our best to keep it fun, and sometimes they go, “You guys are disrupting too much!” And then we’re like, “Ehh, we’re having fun!” Because the show is so intense, that we gotta let loose. Particularly when Louis was there. Louis is a great friend of mine. We used to have our PSPs and we’re playing each other, and we’d be like yelling across at each other. We might have been sent to the principal’s office before, but you know, we had a good time.
How is it working with Kiefer? You guys have had some cool out in the field stuff together.
It’s great. He’s a very talented man. He shows up prepared. He’s very intense at work though. He’s very intense at work, because he wants it done. He’s a perfectionist, so he wants it done. Just very intense. And when he parties and lets loose, he parties and lets loose. So… [Laughs]
It seems like it must be just a great little kid action fantasy to get to run around with the gun.
Oh, definitely. Sometimes I’ll go, “Okay, how many more explosions can they do?” There’s this great scene, I think in episode three [of season six], so it’s gonna be part of the two-night premiere, where this explosion goes off and actually catches part of Kiefer’s leg in it. As we were diving out of the way, it was like “Boom” and there’s this great shot our DP caught of the flame actually catching his pant leg, and it actually singed it. It was great. I go, “Well, you wanted it close!” “Not that close!” It was crazy.
Because of the nature of the show, it’s unlikely we’ll see Curtis’s home life. Do you imagine what his backstory is at all, or anything like that?
I’m not that obsessed, dude! Backstory was done. [Laughs] I mean, one thing, when you go in to read for that show, they really wont go into too much detail on the character description. Some shows will say this character is this, he’s that, he’s the other. This show, they’ll give you a scenario and what the character does, and you bring you too it, and you bring what you want to the table. They really like that, because as well written as it is, they do count on the actors when we get there to make the material work. And we will rewrite stuff right there. Some of the best stuff that happened last season wasn’t written initially, but came on because, particularly, of Kiefer saying, “Let’s try this,” and, “That’s not working for me.” And we’ll make it work. We have that freedom. Particularly with Jon Cassar and Brad Turner, our in-house directors and producers, we have that freedom to rewrite things and rework things to make it really the best it could be. So it’s not just what’s on the paper. If we’re doing it and it’s not working, let’s change it. And we will change it.
The show is so complex, with so many twists and turns. When you’re filming halfway through a season, do you sometimes have to work to not be lost and keep up with all the plot points?
You have to. It’s one day, so you do have to keep it [in mind]. You shoot out of sequence, so that’s the toughest thing to remember. “Oh, this came after this” or “This came before that.” Because sometimes, if you’re shooting several units at the same time, you might be doing one hour here, and the next hour over here, out of sequence. That’s when you count on the continuity people to help you out as well. You know what you’re doing in your script, but sometimes you get lost in it and they help you out with that.
Most of the time, you have to wear the same clothes all the time too.
I went to a Q&A with the cast of season three once, and I remember someone talking about making the mistake of wearing a t-shirt at the beginning of filming the season, when it was summer, and then it gets really cold when you’re out in the desert, shooting at night in the winter.
Exactly! I remember putting on the flak vest at the beginning of season five. I’m like, you know, I think I’ve learned it’s all right. We’re gonna be a little hot in the beginning, when I’m out in the field and stuff like that. But come December, January and February, I’ll be happy to have this flak vest and jacket on! So it’s true, and you don’t think of those things initially, but you find out in the middle of it and go, “Yeah… I should have taken that parka.”
Curtis has a little involvement with Aisha [Tyler]’s character, but she turned out to be a traitor.
I know! She stabbed me in the heart!
Do you think you might get another love interest at some point?
I’m asking! They’re just not doing it. I don’t know what’s up! [Laughs] They’re like, “You had enough!” I’m like, “Alright… Fine…”
The way the show works, jumping a year and a half ahead or so every season, I was thinking; I like Bill Buchanan, but wouldn’t it be cool if we came back and Curtis was in charge of CTU?
Ooooooh. Who knows, right? Who knows what they’ll do. I think they like me in the field now. They’re like, “You’re the field guy. We don’t like you in the office anymore.” I think that’s the general consensus.
Do you have a lot of people begging you to tell them what’s going to happen on the show?
It’s very funny, because people are like, “Oh, can you tell me what’s gonna happen?” And then they go, “Okay, I don’t want to know! No, no, no, I don’t wanna know!” So people want to know, but they don’t want to know, because it will ruin it for them. And the real fans of the show they don’t want to get it ruined for them. They like that anxiety and that angst and that moment to moment build. You don’t want to ruin it just by telling people. That’s no fun.