Sarah Clarke interview from 24: The Official Companion Seasons 3 & 4

by Tara DiLullo

Nina Myers returned like a bad penny to torture Jack Bauer in season three, this time as a hired gun working for the highest bidder.

A 24 veteran, Sarah Clarke says by the third season it was time to shake up the look of Nina Myers. “In season three, I really wanted something dramatically different to show the passage of time,” the actress explains. “We went through some discussion about my hair. At first, we thought it might have some dramatic blonde streak. I was almost thinking it could be gray from the stress. We tried these two big blonde streaks on either side of my temples. I remember Kiefer walked into the trailer and said, ‘Oh, Josie and the Pussycats.‘ It looked a little punk,” she laughs. “My hair was still pretty short, it was chin length and it just felt too similar still. When we came up with the idea of the extensions, I was thrilled. I was hoping the producers would okay it, because it was time-consuming and costly. I was really excited that they agreed and went with it. Of course, once I did it – it was such a pain! I literally had two hundred little weaves and you have to get them tightened every month. It was so much pain to sleep on them! I slept on my face! But as much pain as it was, I am so appreciative of Susan Kelber, the hair stylist, and her dealing with the complexity of it. I felt it said so much, in the first moment of seeing her again, about the more mature nature of Nina without the government restrictions on her.”

Sarah Clarke says she got to make personal selections for Nina’s new look this season. “I got to pick a jacket from a designer I know that makes fabulous coats. My friend is a jewelry designer and she designed a necklace for me.”

Every time Nina shows up, it always means trouble for Jack Bauer. In season three, Nina and Jack reunite with a shocking kiss. Sarah Clarke remembers, “The third season presented some interesting quandaries at first because they wanted to go for the ultimate shock. I still stand by the fact that if you have good characters, that is really what people are following. The adrenaline of the show is fantastic but if you over shock people they become a little numb. The original concept for the scene in the church when we got together was much more extreme. Let’s put it this way, it wasn’t just going to be a kiss,” she laughs. “They wanted us to really be going at it, having sex, and I just put up my hand and said, ‘Look guys, we have to think of reality here. Yes, I am a superpower and I can get out of a lot of things, but that situation puts me in a position of vulnerability, when I know these drug guys could be coming back and I know what Jack is capable of. So it doesn’t make me powerful, it makes her weaker.’ They just wanted it to be explosive but when we discussed it we decided the kiss was all it needed to be.

“I also really appreciated that Kiefer allowed weakness in his character, which added to mine,” Clarke continues. “He was really generous that way. In the church, it was his idea that he had a gun on me and he turns away and the minute he does, I whack him with the suitcase. It was all him and I was like, ‘Thank you.’ It shows that we are both highly thinking animals again that really have to watch each other every second. I am just as scared of him as he is of me and I don’t feel confident that I can get away from him and neither does he.”

All good villains on 24 eventually have to die and season three was the third strike for Nina Myers. Sarah Clarke says she was very pleased with her arc and that she didn’t overstay her welcome. “I know on this show, particularly, to be a man is very powerful. So the fact that they sort of made me like a man means I got to do a lot of great things. Of course, I was exhausted bu the end of it. As much fun as it is to to play a villain, when you are bringing a modicum of reality to it, it can be quite draining, so it was the perfect amount of time.”

Reflecting on her final scenes, Clarke smiles, “The ultimate powerful thing would be if Nina was like, ‘You will not get anything from me,’ but then I love that I go into surgery and kill everyone but the woman.”

As it often happens on the series, the final confrontation between Jack, Kim and Nina was initially very different; in fact, in the script, Kim was supposed to kill her. Clarke admits she is happy Jack was the one who did her in. “I think I would have been really horrified if Kim killed me. As much as I love Elisha Cuthbert, she is a wonderful actress, just integrity wise, but Nina is the much stronger woman. At that point she did feel like a caged animal and it made the most sense that it was Jack killing her. I was sad of course – they did talk about me getting away, but Kiefer was like, ‘Come on! I am the worst Federal Agent there is if I let her get away again!’”