Kiefer Sutherland stopped playing Jack Bauer “out of respect to the character”

Kiefer Sutherland at MIPCOM 2016
Kiefer Sutherland at MIPCOM 2016

Kiefer Sutherland recently appeared on Chris Jericho’s “Talk Is Jericho” podcast to discuss his career longevity, new series Designated Survivor, his debut solo album, and more. We’ve transcribed the parts where he talks about 24.

On career struggles:
“From 20 years old to 30 years old everything was going swimmingly. At 30 it just dried up and stopped for a while, 4-5 years. Then I got very lucky with 24. And you need that moment where it dries up and stops, because that’s what allows you to look back and go “Oh my gosh, how lucky was I?”

And I will never take that for granted again. When I did 24, I didn’t – it was one of the great times of my life. I hope the same with this experience of Designated Survivor and with my album.”

Why 24 took off:
“I think it was a variety of things. And one of them, if I could take back, If I had the power to take that back, I would. We had shot about four months of 24 before the terrible events of 9/11. And I remember there was a moment, especially because the opening episode of 24 had to deal with a hijacked jet and all this other stuff. And it was just completely a fluke, no one in their wildest dreams thought any of this stuff could ever happen. And tragically it did.

I think FOX as a network questioned whether or not they should even put it out. They tested it with people and their reaction to it was really positive. I think the reason why their reaction was really positive. I certainly remember feeling incredibly helpless, incredibly angry after 9/11, and heartbroken too. I remember feeling really helpless, there was nothing you could do about it. It wasn’t like someone had picked on your sister at school and you went and found the guy and did something about it, I felt really helpless.

And then all of a sudden this show had this character Jack Bauer that was fighting these insurmountable odds and doing all that kind of stuff. I think certainly in the beginning year or two, people really appreciated that there were people out there doing this. The reality is there are people who are really doing that.”

Why the 24 movie never happened:
“It was talked about, talked about, talked about a lot. I never understood why it wasn’t made, especially in the earlier days. But there’s so many reasons why something doesn’t work and very few reasons why something does. It’s complicated. Companies have movie divisions and television divisions, they might not all get along.”

Having fun playing Jack Bauer:
“I have to say, I have been incredibly fortunate as I look back. Jack Bauer as a character just because of the amount of time that I got to spend with that character. I admired his moral compass, I thought he was a very righteous character and I wish I was half that.

But he was also so much fun to play. I remember, this is so embarrassing… I’m 5’10” on a good day, if I’m standing really straight. And they’d send in some guy who was 6’4″ and 240 pounds. And I’d look at him and go “Well, it says I’m gonna kick your ass, so I guess I’m gonna kick your ass!” (laughs) In real life, it would take two seconds and he’d hit me with his finger and I’d be down. But because Jack Bauer had these great moves or whatever, the way it was written, it would work out. So all that kind of stuff was a lot of fun.”

On why Kiefer stopped doing 24:
“When people ask me why didn’t you keep doing the show… I would’ve loved to have done the show until the day I died. I loved that character, I loved the people I was working with, and the audience that enjoyed the show has been incredibly gracious to me.

But let’s be honest, how many bad days can one guy have? We did nine seasons. At one point, probably around season 6, I said “Okay, this is getting a little long in the tooth.” So I kinda decided to not do the show almost out of respect to the character and what the show meant to me. And I had always said the idea of the show was the real star.”

On possibly returning to 24 at some point:
“I’ve learned to never say never with that one, because when I finished Season 8 I said I was never going to do it again. And they came up with what I thought was a really cool idea in England.

And the truth is, I did it because I missed the people that I was working with – Jon Cassar the director and Howard Gordon. And I happened to still have a really good relationship at 20th Century Fox. That was a decade of my life. I remember looking at a picture of my daughter from Season 1, she looked like such a cute little girl with her pigtails and I think was still carrying around a doll. By the end of it she was graduating at NYU, so that put a perspective on how much time that was.”

Source Talk is Jericho


Comments Closed
All due respect to Sutherland, I don’t buy it that excuse at all. Something goings on (pay dispute from the notoriously cheap Fox, annoyance at movie never progressing?). And Legacy proved that the real time format is not the star of the show.

Sutherland was born to play Bauer in 24! I watch Designated Survivor and the best moments are when he channels his inner Jack. When he’s all playing it nice and twee, it’s horrible.

I think we deserve a better ending for Jack than Live Another Day.

What would be a better ending?

Jack tied up the loose ends with Audrey, Heller, and Cheng.

Jack relived the past he was running from, faced it totally, and accepted it.

Unintelligent people are just pissed it wasn’t a dopey sappy happy ending.

Where do you want it to go now?
What else is there to do that hasn’t already been done twice?

What’s wrong with a “dopey sappy happy ending”? Seriously, what is so wrong with that? People talk about this like it’s this “evil” and “forbidden” thing and I’ve never understood it. What’s so wrong with the titular character having a happy ending? Everyone frowns upon that nowadays for some reason that mystifies me.

In a show where nearly every major character has had a tragic ending, why is it “so wrong” to give one a happy ending? This show isn’t real life–it’s fiction. Having said that, happy endings DO occur in real life as well.

This constant pessimism people have toward happy endings mystifies and even worries me a bit. Are people that bitter in life that they can’t accept a bit of happiness for a character’s conclusion?

What’s wrong with a realistic and honest ending? Seriously, what is so wrong with that? People talk about ambivalent endings like they are this “evil” and “forbidden” thing and I’ve never understood it. What’s so wrong with the titular character having a dark ending?
Everyone gets upset about that nowadays for some reason and that mystifies me.

In a show where nearly every major character realistically dies, why is it “so wrong” to give the lead character a realistic exit? This show isn’t real life – its fiction, so why do most people act like there must be a happy ending in order to be considered good? Having said that, no one in real life gets out of it alive.

This constant pessimism people have towards realism and mystery… mystifies me and worries me a lot. Are people that bitter in life that they can’t handle truth in storytelling? Are people so angry about reality that they have to always have a made-up happy ending?

Having a happy sappy super duper happy ending for Jack (and we know that would involve him going home to Kim alive) would betray what the character and story is about.
And its pessimistic to not view Live Another Day as a happy ending.
Live Another Day ended well for Jack.
But bad/angry people won’t accept that ending and want a false/cliched ending where everything’s alright and nothing bad ever happens to anyone anymore because magic fairy dust made the world all better.

To stay true to the story, themes, and character of Jack Bauer, if Jack is to go home to Kim alive and well, he must betray his country (become the villain). Maybe work for Russia now. Perhaps end the show with him as an insurgent, vowing to bring America to its knees and serve it up to Russia.
Jack comes home, smiles, and we see Kim happy and hug him, but we know that he is basically a covert assassin that has betrayed America and everything he used to fight for.
Sacrifice is essential to 24.

The show will have to use a HOLOGRAM of Jack because Kiefer is not coming back!!!

That was well said! Really appreciate your view of the ending to the show and Jack’s Hero’s Journey.

The perfect ending would be a reverse of Season 1. Jack and Tony reunite to fight the terrorists and covert Russian or Chinese conspirators by saving Kim and Terry, this time Jack saves Terry’s life, juts she is not here his wife but his granddaughter. And both, jack and Tony epically die to end the show in this storyline. Would’nt it be great Season 10 as mirror of Season 1, as story begins that it ends.

I agree. The fans and Jack deserve a better ending. That character sacrificed everything for his country. He was given a presidential pardon and then he’s whisked away in a Russian helicopter to prison? Kiefer, if you see these comments, come back. This time as the director of CTU or he’s an idea how about as the President?

AHAHAHAHAHAAHAHA sorry to reply to my own post but you’ll never guess who I found shitting up the above tweet!

What have you got against Justin? he is a sound guy, I have him as friends on my Facebook. Leave the guy alone, he is not harming anyone!

Nobody wishes the guy bodily harm, but he’s a troll and an utter pestilence in his online demeanor… you think this site outright banned him just for kicks? C’mon dude…

Oh my God. His twitter feed is insane. He seems to be pestering so many people for 24 legacy news.
I wish he was that vocal about getting the writers kicked off the show.

The ratings for 24 have been dwindling since season 6. LAD ratings were not great, even with heavy Super Bowl promotion and the ratings I don’t think reached even the season 6 levels, even with the LAD pilot. The show will never again reach it’s zenith from season 4-5. I believe Kiefer’s comments are genuine and heartfelt and reflect what a lot of people think. I think he took a look at the Legacy script and said, “have fun boys!”

Sadly, I have observed a few things over since Kiefer has left 24. The show “Touch” which was the complete opposite of 24 which was a strange story about a kid with a mother who died in a terrorist attack who thinks in numbers and doesn’t talk. It is almost like Kiefer said, I want to have a show and call it “Opposite Day” of 24 and the writers took it to the extreme with this goofy #’s thing. Seriously.

Honestly, I think Kiefer is suffering from an identity crisis. He is touring as the lead singer of a country/rock band for $20 a ticket in extremely small venues. (You can’t even pay for the motorcoach gas / security salary for band with that) I came 2 hours early to one of his concerts in PDX and he was rushed in/out the concert with his security details pleading that “Kiefer is in a zone when it is time to perform, no autographs or pictures… please, please, please… he just needs to focus right now”. I saw him in an interview the other day and it looks like the guy has lost 30 pounds. The years of boozing and smoking have taken their toll, the crows feet.

Hopefully he is just in a place where money is not important, he wants to enjoy playing in a small band, perhaps wants to meet a love interest. Who knows. Something isn’t quite right.

So you were not able to acquire his autograph ? Damn it … I have to say I listened to some of his songs and I cannot say that I liked them but I bought the tickets for his concert in Vienna next month hoping that I will be able to get his autograph… I am gonna have to find the “celebrity entrance” and wait there till he gets out of the car I guess

He has a large motorhome/bus (with purple neon/led lights under it) and parked it immediately in front of the venue. I waited almost 2 hours. The door to the motorhome was directly across from the back entrance. There were a couple of autograph seekers there and myself (everyone else was in the show audience) and the security guy popped out, gave his “Kiefer in a zone” speel, out popped Kiefer, ran across a sidewalk, waved, went inside. 4 steps total outside.

The pro autograph seekers were nice. They told me that Kiefer did sign autographs and took photos with the crowd that was there 3.5 hours before show start. His whole security detail smokes and steps outside the motorcoach, however, no Kiefer. Must either sneaks smokes in the coach, vapes, or has a big time nic fit as I know he smokes like a chimney. (allegedly)

I forgot to add… There was a pre-autographed CD available to purchase which had 4 tracks including “Not Enough Whiskey” for sale for $15. There was also a pre-autographed 10 x 14 simple monochrome poster available with Kiefer sitting holding a guitar for $15. The concert is about an 90 mins long. Don’t leave at the end of the concert as some people did. He comes out about 4 min later and sings another 3 songs. Some of the songs are oldies such as a Gordon Lightfoot song… 70’s country, Eddie Rabbitt, etc…

I sort of see the light at the end of the tunnel with Jack … remember AMC’s the killing series? It was produced by fox for AMC … and it never had great ratings I mean from s1 … but there was almost 50% drop in ratings during the season 2 and it got canceled after it… amc was not thinking about the renewal, but fox wanted to keep the show alive, so they made the offer to Netflix … as amc found out, they decided to renew for 3rd season but the ratings were not any better and the show got definitely canceled by amc … there was no hope of renewal for almost 2 years and miracle happened Netflix took over and renewed series for one final season to give it a proper conclusion… this might happen to Jack and 24 right? :D

“””But let’s be honest, how many bad days can one guy have?”””

Who fucking cares, it’s a TV Show… Keifer… it’s entertainment. Theres Zombies on The Walking Dead and White Walkers and Dragons on Game of Thrones and that’s not realistic..

“”” And I had always said the idea of the show was the real star.””

as Trump would say…. WRONG

Justin is a giant loser.

Jericho should have been on the show instead of Tony. Eric Carter, YOU JUST MADE THE LIST!!!!!!!!

I greatly respect the integrity Kiefer is demonstrating with these comments. I certainly think that the story of Jack Bauer is over. It has reached its natural conclusion as of the end of season nine. I am perfectly happy if we never see him again. Let him rest in peace.

Perfect conclusion at the end of season 9? Umm the whole complaint about the LAD ending was that it WASN’T an ending it left things open.

I beg to differ. Indeed, I’ll do just that when I eventually post my season nine analysis on this site.

Looking forward btw! I didn’t know thats you great first article I really enjoyed it. I was disappointed in the season 9 finale I just wanted some closure. I guess I’ll see your opinion when the article’s posted.

If he really respects the character, then he shouldn’t left his fate as the way he was at the end of season 9.

Firstly, that decision was not up to Kiefer. Secondly, the producers seem intent on leaving the door open for future stories, so the character is unlikely to ever receive a cathartic ending either way.

Despite popular assertion, LAD ended his story as conclusively as was possible. Unfortunately, most viewers lack the intellectual ability to accept any ending that doesn’t involve him being killed or living happily ever after (both of which would fail miserably and betray the essence of the show).

The producers did intent on leaving the door open, but he was hugely involved in the decision not to give Jack a happy ending, therefore I think it’s perfectly reasonable for a viewer with intellectual ability to blame him for that. And frankly I don’t think the producers liked to leave Jack’s fate hanging like that, it was mostly Kiefer’s decision so that one day he might return for a 24 movie. Now he says he stopped playing Jack Bauer “out of respect to the character”, well, where is his respect for the fans then?

What are you basing these conclusions off? Where is your evidence?

You’re kidding right? That’s all? Have you actually checked the official writing credits for those episodes?

In fact, there was an hour long interview with Kiefer last year when, in response to a question about their lack of closure, Kiefer said:

“It wasn’t conclusive like we promised. And that’s not my fault. I promise you it’s not”.

It’s been well publicized that the final episode of LAD, written by Manny and Evan, was in a constant process of we-writing up until the final days of shooting.

That’s not all, but that’s part of it. What you said is also part of his word, and IMO a cheap excuse after its failure to satisfy viewers, but before LAD finale premiered, it was well publicized that Kiefer was largely involved in the way it ended, only I have no time to check them back one by one.

But at least he admitted it wasn’t a conclusive ending, but he says I promise it’s not his fault, well, you should know what ‘I promise’ means when Jack Bauer says it.

So how could you say most viewers lack the intellectual ability to understand it was conclusive if Kiefer himself said that it wasn’t?

I’m saying I personally believe a sense of conclusiveness can be gleaned from the LAD finale retrospectively. I have no illusion that the writers/producers intended for it to be conclusive.

Also I think your theory is very interesting. If a show failed to satisfy the viewers, then just blame them for lack the intellectual ability, to me that’s an easy and cheap excuse to cover your incompetence.

Penelope Sandwiches
May 10, 2017 at 9:06 pm
The fans need … NEED … for Jack to finally have a happy ending. We’ve all suffered right along with Jack. Been there with Jack. Worried about Jack between seasons. So, we need this. We do. Please.

No. Happy endings are false.

It’s fiction. Anything can be true if the writers write it to be.

We get reality every day in real life. Entertainment is escapism for many people and many people want their entertainment to make them happy. I wanted 24 to end with Jack going back to his family.

I am not crazy about the end of Jack and his storyline being: him dragged off to a Russian prison for the rest of his life.

But to be honest, Jack dying OR Jack having a happy ending aren’t exactly the right ways to end his story either in my opinion.

I am not sure what the “right” ending for Jack would be at this point in the shows almost 17 year, 10 season existence.

But I would have loved to have the series go full circle and have Jack become the Director of CTU LA again at the very end.

A more realistic ending for me would have him finally accept that no matter how hard he tries to get away from it, CTU is where is belongs.

They already had the perfect ending with Season 4 imo.

First there was shock with Jack dying, then relief upon learning his death was faked. Sadness seeing his girlfriend break down in tears and more sadness knowing he’d never be able to contact his daughter again. Some closure with Tony’s handshake and Palmer’s phone call followed by really iconic imagery of Jack walking off into the sunrise. The viewer could make up their own storyline(s) from there.

I thought that was the perfect way to “kill” Jack Bauer. He was dead to all but four people and you the viewer. Not too happy, not too sad, just the right mix. Too bad they didn’t hold onto that idea for the true series finale.

As for LAD’s ending, I still have mixed feelings about it. I’ve come to accept the idea of Jack being stuck in a Russian prison, I just wish it felt more definitive. The way that scene was structured with both Chloe and Belcheck being there and witnessing everything going down practically screams out for a “rescue Jack” story. It should’ve been reworked a bit to feel more like a series finale.

Yeah, you know, it’s funny. Season 5 was the zenith of the show’s success, but it more or less ruined any opportunity the show had to offer an emotionally satisfying ending. Plus, killing all those great characters and being forced to create new substitutes as their replacement.

I’ve grown to like LAD’s ending for its (intentional or unintentional) thematic closure, but there’s absolutely no emotional catharsis whatsoever. I think that’s what people struggle with. I know I did for a long time after it aired.

I think the ending of LAD is a huge pause button, with the interpretations others have described on this forum. It allowed the season/series to end with some sort of solution explaining Jack’s absence if the series was to continue without him (on Jack’s terms), while leaving the door open for Jack to return.

I think it is interesting that LAD’s ending was similar to S5, while “Legacy” was a rehash of most of S6. Perhaps the writers really thought that S6 was really a good study, but just needed to be told without Curtis dying, the wacky Bauer family, etc… Legacy II will likely be a rehash of S7 with Tony being good/bad or who the phuck knows.

I think the ending of Live Another Day is much more similar to that of Redemption… Jack finally stops running from the inevitable and surrenders himself for the greater good; in the case of the former, primarily for Chloe but also to himself (finally accepting that his NYC rampage was wrong and natural justice needed to be served), in the case of the latter, for the sake of Benton’s kids rather than leave them in the disintegrating Sangala.

I’m not sure how to end Jack’s story in a definitive way, to be honest… maybe it shouldn’t.

He’s no longer in that dark place any more that he was in after Renee’s murder, he’s accepted the futility of and taken responsibility for his bloody rampage four years previously, Audrey is dead but Kim is safe, Chloe is undoubtedly messed up but can go back home (although to what?), and the Russians will imprison but not torture him… and it’s ironically in this incarceration that he can finally achieve a modicum of peace; no longer to be dragged back into ‘the game’, no more knocks at the door or subpoenas or phone calls pleading for him to “do the right thing” one more time, leading to yet another bad day, and yet more death, destruction, loss, and pain.

The ending of Live Another Day may just be the ‘happy ending’ Jack deserves…

I could be happy with that

With Legacy a total farce, I hope they improve the writing ten-fold to make it a spin-off worthy of 24 without Jack Bauer.

I see Gotham just got renewed so surely Legacy is renewed too.

Bad things happen to good characters and good people. Look at Otto Warmbier who is stuck in a N. Korean prison. 24 is a show that is about life in real time. Life sometimes sucks.

Christine Brahney Aria MD
May 11, 2017 at 3:23 pm
Height and/or age is irrelevant. Never will understand why the writers left Jack in a Russian Jail. Attempt at saving him should have been the center theme of the latest venture.
One thing I always liked about 24 was it’s understanding of current events. Bad Russians are center now. That is what the most recent 24 should have been about.

Dear Christine Brahney Aria MD,

Viewing LAD twice, LAD achieved two major things from a screenwriter’s standpoint:

1) In LAD E7 Jack was pardoned by President Heller which gave the writers the gift of to the writers to write new episodes with Jack as an agent or private citizen (unwilling agent) possible. Personally, I believe that this is the only reason why they had the Heller/Wembley Stadium sub-plot, to bring Jack’s ability to be in future shows to a head and address it. In my opinion, having the Wembley Stadium scenes serve no other purpose and is a play on James Heller’s near death experiences in S4 & S5.

2) In LAD E12, Jack was hauled off to prison which essentially wrote Jack out of the show and gave licence to the writers to have a “new hero” or resuscitate the character Jack as they did in the beginning of S6 if sometime down the road the writers/Kiefer chose to do so. Since imprisonment was Jack’s choice, it is highly unlikely that we will see a “break out” story unless Jack’s family was in danger.

The 2 above points, makes LAD an elaborate 12 hour long arc which allowed the show to go on without Jack, but if Jack was to return to the show, he could do so at full capacity.

Howard Gordon has made ‘Homeland’ a success because of how relevant each season’s plots are to real life situations in the world. I see no reason why the ’24’ writers couldn’t do a better reboot with stronger casting and fresher stories from the world now.

Kiefer Sutherland’s DESIGNATED SURVIVOR was just renewed for Season 2.

I love the show.

Me too – and it’s for the same reason the original ’24’ was great: Kiefer had a good supporting cast of characters around him with solid acting performances. The mini-stories within the show away from Kiefer are appealing and blend well with the scenes he has.

I just wish they gave a little more screen time and things to do for the ultra gorgeous Natascha McElhone!

Imho I wish they would put the ideas they for the movie let’s say into a season 11 I mean jack was a fugitive for like half the season & then working with the CIA for the second half which kinda killed the suspense. So I agree with some of these posts I think kiefer is just dishing out excuses not to return it’s really a disservice frankly to the fans…… they really didn’t close season 9 they left it open ended for nothing.

….”Kiefer is just dishing out excuses not to return”…

Did Fox give a shit about Kiefer when THEY cancelled the original 24 series after season 8?

Did Fox give a shit about Kiefer when THEY refused to do a 24 movie that Kiefer really wanted to do for his fans?

And now you are mad at Kiefer because he will not come back one more time in order to get a fictional character out of a fictional prison!!!

Okay calm down your right fox could careless I’m not arguing that but kiefer not only plays jack but he’s also a collaborator with the show. Not saying this is all his fault for a verioty of reasons those things are not in his control. But he did give lagecy his full support he by his own admission chose to leave 24. So yes fox could’ve pulled the plug on 24 but they chose to move ahead. My point stands u don’t like my opinion that’s fine. But this really is Fox& kiefers partly to blame. For lagecy fox could of stopped & waited after season 9 & I realize they don’t need kiefers permission to eather stop or go ahead. But kiefer wished them luck with it when he could of said no or maybe this isn’t the best direction to take 24. But yes as far as his interviews go on the subject they sound like excuses or there very wishy washy. So if i could rephrase there both to blame. & his comments about how many bad days can one guy have? One does it really matter & 2 the real time element is the star. So for these broken record reasons we keep hearing yes that is why I say this.

Elisha Cuthbert graduated at NYU?

I think it’s fucjing stupid you should leave it up to the fans and the people who watch it! Not knowing what happen after you got into the helicopter and all the possible outcomes? I think it’s a joke and you’re a joke and a let down

January 13, 2019 at 12:39 pm
I wish that Kiefer Sutherland would appear as Jack in a movie . Finish the series on a positive ending . A hero like him should conclude with him getting justice , or training a new hero to carry on his legacy . I must admit it’s the MOST entertaining series I’ve ever scene . Jack is a WONDERFUL character as well as inspiration! LOVE to hear JACK is BACK ❤️

Saying Jack in a movie, I just can’t help imaging Jason Bourne goes to save Jack from Moscow ( I know it sounds crazy). They share a connection through Belchuk.