Kate and Jack Bauer finally team up!
Behind the Screens with Joshua Maloni
Yvonne Strahovski knows a thing or two about playing a CIA agent, having starred for five seasons as Sarah Walker on NBC's "Chuck."
In that role, the actress demonstrated her butt-kicking prowess, as well as a knack for hitting every emotion. As Chuck's handler-turned-girlfriend, Sarah went from a no-nonsense, close-to-the-vest agent to an outwardly caring, loving but still deadly CIA agent. When Chuck was in danger, Sarah went momma-bear on his enemies. And when Sarah lost Chuck - especially in the series-ending episodes - she was heartbroken and vulnerable.
It's wasn't surprising, then, to see Strahovski cast as a CIA agent in the "24" reboot, "Live Another Day." The actress has proven she can hang with Kiefer Sutherland's Jack Bauer on both an emotional level and one in which her character must take action to protect democracy.
What is amazing is her character's popularity. In just a few episodes, Strahovski's agent Kate Morgan has resonated with "24" fans so much that rumors are flying of a spinoff.
"As far as the spin-off stuff, I mean I don't really know what to say about that," Strahovski said in a phone interview. "I've read a couple articles here and there about that, so I don't really know. I'm just happy that people seem to like Kate Morgan, and I hope that they continue to."
Like Jack, Kate finds herself at odds with the U.S. government despite past efforts to protect its citizens. That's what attracted Strahovski to the role.
"Initially, I liked the fact that we meet Kate at a low point in her life; you know, she doesn't have it all together," Strahovski said. "She's been demoted from her job, which means she obviously has professional problems going on, as well as personal problems, because her husband was found out to be selling government secrets to a foreign government. So I feel like, at the time ... it really gave me a starting point with somewhere to go from - and somewhere to go up from - which is what we're seeing Kate do now in this journey."
The original "24" made its bones with edge-of-your-seat storytelling and talented casts portraying people in impossible situations. In that vein, Strahovski said she's pleased "24: Live Another Day" producers have focused on her acting ("Chuck" couldn't resist reminding audiences of Strahovski's magazine-cover good looks).
"Oh, I think that's great, especially for something like this," Strahovski said. "That's part of what attracted me to this role, as well, is because '24,' it's filmed in such a way that it's really raw and really real and it forces you to sort of be very real. And on the same token, not just with the acting, but physically, I was adamant that I didn't want her to be glammed up. I wanted minimal makeup and the clothing had to be real - nothing fancy. You know, something like what she would wear in real life, which was part of the draw for me, because it is nice to just focus on scene work, and something that has this much intensity in it. All of that drew me to this role."
At the start of "24: Live Another Day," Kate was pursuing Jack through England thinking he was behind a drone attack. Her tactics were reminiscent of his, which made fans hungry for the day their two characters would team up.
In the past two episodes, Kate has realized Jack is trying to protect the U.K. and the U.S. Their much-anticipated pairing begins tonight (9 p.m., FOX).
Strahovski offered fans a taste of what they can expect.
"Well, all I can say is that I think it's still - it's a fun place to be in at this point," she said. "They are obviously two strong-minded people. The world knows Jack Bauer probably a little better than they know Kate Morgan, because she's only been on TV for a little while. So it's interesting seeing the types of people that they are. I'm not sure if they trust each other just yet, entirely, even though they're teaming up. They're still agents, after all. I think it will be a fun journey. It's certainly a nice starting point right now to see where it goes."
•Joshua Maloni writes about television shows such as "24," "The Voice," "The Blacklist" and "Grimm." Follow him on Twitter @joshuamaloni.
Behind the Screens with Joshua Maloni
"Dammit, Chloe!" What is with the Goth look?
"24" fans were ecstatic when FOX announced it was bringing the show back for a limited-run series.
They were elated Jack Bauer would return, once more, to save the day.
And, they were, well, curious about Chloe's new look.
When "24" fans first met Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) in season three, she was a straight-laced, no-nonsense computer programmer. Throughout her time on the show, she became a confidant and friend to Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland). When the series ended, Chloe had risen to the top of the Counter Terrorism Unit - and in that position, she turned a blind eye as Jack, wanted by the U.S. government, escaped to freedom.
Now, four years later, on "24: Live Another Day," Chloe also is on the run. She's joined an underground WikiLeaks-type hacking outfit and she's gone totally punk rocker. This more somber version of Chloe is tattooed and pierced with Joan Jett-black hair.
When Rajskub received her first two scripts, "First of all, when I read them, they were very exciting and read like classic '24' scripts," she said. "And I kind of hopped up at the ends of reading two of them and then I was like, 'Wow, I want to know what happens next.'
"So, that was exciting. And then, of course, in the description it was a very different Chloe. It was very briefly and loosely described, and it wasn't until I got to London, and it was about a week, and the first thing we did was the Super Bowl promo. So, that was kind of cool, because that got me together with Kiefer and then we kind of came up with a look that was the first thing we shot.
"So, I met with the hair and wardrobe and makeup, and we just had a great few days of coming up with this idea for this character. So, I did it with that team, and then we presented it to the producers and everybody and sort of took it from there."
Chloe's new wardrobe is representative of what's happened in her life. She was forced from CTU and subject to criminal charges because she let Jack flee. Following that, Chloe's husband and young son were killed in a car crash meant for her, and she lost track of Jack.
"She is really in a lot of pain, and kind of just holding on," Rajskub said.
Chloe is reunited with Jack, who rescues her from the London CIA station. The two decide to help save President James Heller (William Devane), even though his government seeks their capture.
"I feel like Chloe this time around has been more dragged to the dark side, for lack of a better description, where she's now part of ... trying to always save the world and deal with these larger-than-life intense situations," Rajskub said.
Fans might be shocked to see this new version of Chloe. Rajskub, herself, was stunned to learn there would be any version of her character on TV again. She was surprised to learn FOX was bringing back its Emmy-winning series (and Chloe, too).
"I was very shocked when I found out, because I had moved on with my life," Rajskub said. "It had been four years, and so I spent a few days with my husband and my child and my dogs walking around (in) my pajamas going, 'What is happening?' Kind of not believing it and watching my Twitter feed blow up. And I responded, like, 'We're very excited.' Meanwhile, I was waiting for them to actually pick up the phone and call and ask me to be involved. And, of course, I said 'yes' without hesitation. How could I not?"
"I never thought this would come back," Rajskub said. "It was a once-in-a-lifetime thing that is now twice in a lifetime."
"24: Live Another Day" continues Monday at 9 p.m. on FOX. For more information on the show, visit http://www.fox.com/24-live-another-day/.
Behind the Screens with Joshua Maloni
When we last saw Jack Bauer, his country abandoned him. The government, the agencies he had protected so many times, sought his end. He was on the run, and going off the gird.
When Jack Bauer returns Monday, after four years in exile, he will once again risk his life to protect American lives.
Because he's Jack Bauer.
"The opening threat is he has uncovered a plot to kill and assassinate the president of the United States on British soil. And the fear of doing that, even if it's an ally ... the fear of doing that on foreign soil could be tantamount to a world war," Kiefer Sutherland, star of "24: Live Another Day, said in a two-part phone interview this week. "He thinks that the ramifications, or the outcome of this event, if it were in fact to take place, would be global. He has a daughter and he has grandchildren who are alive, and those are some of the reasons that make him come out of hiding."
In trying to stop this epic disaster, Jack will encounter two people from his past: James Heller (William Devane), who is now president, and Audrey Raines, Jack's one-time love.
"He ... has a profound respect for President Heller, and obviously Audrey, his daughter, is kind of the great love of his life," Sutherland said. "And those things all become addressed in the first two, if not four episodes. But, again, he believes that the threat that he's uncovered is so egregious that it could start a world conflict, and that is his initial desire to become involved."
"24: Live Another Day" is a special 12-part event series that continues the adventure fans enjoyed for eight seasons with the original FOX series "24." Sutherland said the real-time format will continue, but in half the number of episodes. He said the abbreviated run is a more potent version of the original show.
"Ultimately, I'm trying to think of this season as concentrate," Sutherland said. "We've managed to take the 12 episodes and make them as concentrated and focused in the storytelling as anything we've ever done."
Though "24" kept viewers on the edge of their seats each and every week, without fail, Sutherland said the show's creative team would run into story issues around the midpoint of a season.
"We've always kind of run into an issue with the storytelling around episode 14 or 15, and trying to make that turn to the last eight," he said. "We've thought of the 12 episodes as a concentrated version of '24.' "
This, he noted, "gave great latitude for the writers."
For his work in creating and playing Jack Bauer, Sutherland took home an Emmy, a Golden Globe Award and two SAG Awards for Best Actor in a Drama Series. Jack Bauer is one of television's most iconic roles - and it's for that reason Sutherland was nervous about reprising the role.
"I think one of the things that I had to fight the most was that when you put something away - like we had '24' and the eight seasons of '24,' and we put it away and we were done with it and kind of benchmarked it. And this now has become a part of our life; it's not living anymore. You get very precious with it," he said.
Sutherland explained the most difficult thing for him in the six months prior to shooting was dealing with his nerves, "realizing we're opening this can up again." He was proud of the original series, and feared a second go-around wouldn't live up to expectations.
"I will be very honest with you, I was quite nervous leading up to it, and I was very fortunate to have Jon Cassar, our director, because I must have annoyed the life out of him. For the first three days I kept walking up to him going, 'Does that feel right to you? Does that look right to you? Does it sound right?' You know, all of this. And he was like, 'Kiefer, it's perfect. It's great.' I wouldn't have moved on otherwise. Clearly, I didn't believe him. So, he had to endure that for a few days."
Ultimately, Sutherland said, "It took me about 15 minutes with (Exec. Producer) Howard Gordon to agree to do it. He basically said he had a really great story he wanted to tell. There was no different approach. We're not trying to retell the story. It was just getting back into it."
"24" fans couldn't be happier about the show's return. Sutherland knows Jack Bauer holds a special place in fans' hearts.
"I think he's hugely relatable," he said. "Obviously, the circumstances are massively exaggerated, but I think all of us on some level feel a connection to a character like Jack Bauer, because this is a guy who's facing insurmountable odds, and yet he goes into the fight regardless. And I think life kind of makes us feel like that, too.
"Life is tricky. And I think the fact that he doesn't always win (helps). In the context of the first season, he managed to save the president; he managed to get his daughter back; but he lost his wife. A (normal) guy goes and gets a promotion at work, and he's very happy for a few minutes, but then realizes he doesn't have time to take his son to football practice anymore. And I think there's a kind of reality in that not winning that makes Jack Bauer incredibly relatable.
"And this is also a character that is ... after 9/11, I think there was a real feeling of helplessness. And I think Jack Bauer, as a character, was kind of dogmatic and, regardless of the circumstances, was going to push forward. And I certainly found that comforting, and I certainly felt very helpless after 9/11, and there was kind of a great refuge for me in that character."
It won't take long for "24: Live Another Day" to remind viewers why they root for Jack Bauer.
"I think there's a very strong moral compass with Jack Bauer," Sutherland said. "Whether he is right or wrong, he is going to do what he thinks is the right thing, and he's going to do everything - to the risk of his own life - that he's going to do that to try and prevent whatever situation the day brings from happening."
"24: Live Another Day" debuts Monday at 8 p.m. on FOX. The series moves into its regular 9 p.m. timeslot on May 12.
Behind the Screens with Joshua Maloni
"24" is about to join a very small, very elite club.
The show and its characters are returning to television four years after the series ended thanks to a 12-part event series, "24: Live Another Day." In doing so, the "24" franchise joins a small list of TV shows that returned with new stories after being canceled.
"A lot of things excited us," Exec. Producer Manny Coto said in a recent phone interview. "I think there was a feeling amongst all of us - even though when season eight finished, and we were tired and we were kind of ready to move on - I think all of us felt that there was more to this story, and that Jack Bauer's character was not quite ready to shuffle off the stage. Of course, there was talk of a movie, so it was generally agreed that there would be more."
"Star Trek" and "Firefly" - two television shows that failed to find ratings success - built such a following after their initial airings, that they became feature films. "Veronica Mars" recently returned, but it took a Kickstarter campaign and fan funding to bring Neptune's favorite detective to the big screen.
Throughout its eight-season run on FOX, "24" was a ratings success - something those other shows could not claim. Plus, its main character, Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), was widely regarded as a TV icon.
A "24" movie seemed likely and, in recent years, Sutherland told interviewers such as David Letterman he expected Jack would be back in that capacity.
When the idea of feature film flamed out, fans were disappointed. Fortunately, FOX opted to bring the show back for a limited run.
"I spent my whole career with '24' dealing with 20th Century Fox Television production company, which is a very separate entity than the film company. And I dealt with the network, so there wasn't a lot of conversation with regards to the film, other than we had expressed a real desire to make one," Sutherland said Thursday. "And I think that they were interested on some level and, for whatever reason, and I have no idea whether it was our story, whether it was what they had already in stock and ready to go out, I couldn't exactly tell you why it didn't happen. I just know that it didn't."
In the end, a 12-part series is better than a two-hour movie. "24: Live Another Day" brings Jack Bauer back for another edge-of-your-seat story, and reunites him with his sidekick, Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub), his former boss, James Heller (William Devane) - who's now president - and a love of his life, Audrey Raines (Kim Raver).
"When this came around, I think a lot of our thoughts that we had been kind of percolating over the years kind of bubbled forth," Coto said. "I think both of us (he and Exec. Producer Evan Katz) experienced people coming up to us saying, 'I wish that show were still on the air; I miss the show; I miss Jack Bauer.' And I think, you know, when the opportunity appeared, we had kind of a reservoir of ideas and thoughts about this character and where he would be now that we were able to draw on. Particularly exciting is because he is a fugitive - he was a fugitive - and on the run from his own government. A man who had saved the United States multiple times, that same country has turned its back on him. So that is a fantastic dynamic to start a series, and something that we seized on and really energized us.
"At the same time, the idea of Chloe O'Brian also being, kind of, a fugitive, almost as much a fugitive as Jack, having turned her back against the government, as well. You take these two characters and you say to yourself, you know, there is an event that requires the two of them to work together to come back together and work against the very (government), and at the same time try to help the government. Save Americans, but at the same time fighting the very government that gave them this opportunity. It's a great dynamic we've decided to explore."
Sutherland said he agreed to return to "24" following a meeting with Exec. Producer Howard Gordon. Katz said the lead cast was game once the actors understood where the new story would take them.
"24: Live Another Day" is set in London, where an exiled Jack Bauer has learned a plot exists to kill the president on foreign soil. Tough he's on the run, Jack considers the threat to his country - to his estranged family, and the people he cares about - and takes up arms once again.
"I think that Kiefer wanted to make sure that he understood where the character had been, and (had) somewhere interesting to go with the character when we sat with him," Katz said. "And for Bill Devane the same was true; we're doing something interesting with his character we don't want to reveal. He's president, but there's another big issue he's wrestling with.
"And the same for Kim Raver and Mary Lynn. Mary Lynn's character has had quite a radical journey, which over the first three episodes becomes clear. For Kim Raver, the last time we saw her (character), she was catatonic. So, of course, she came in and we chatted with her about what she had been through.
"So everyone, kind of before they shipped off to London, we were all on the same page."
The next chapter of the "24" series begins Monday at 8 p.m. on FOX.
"24: Live Another Day"
•Joshua Maloni writes about television shows such as "The Voice," "Warehouse 13," "The Blacklist" "24" and "Grimm." Follow him on Twitter @joshuamaloni.