Kiefer Sutherland knows better than to assume he’s done with 24. “I’ve said that twice and have been wrong, so I won’t say that again,” he tells Rolling Stone. The actor, who recently launched a country-music career, has signed on as a producer for 24: Legacy – a new show in the same universe that stars Web Therapy’s Dan Bucatinsky and Straight Outta Compton’s Corey Hawkins, among others – and has not ruled out reprising his Jack Bauer character. Shooting will begin imminently.
“It’s a phenomenal script,” he says of the new series. “I think it’s going to be incredibly liberating for the writers to not have to figure out one more bad day for Jack Bauer. They get to write for new characters. And Bauer’s still out there, so you never know what’s going to happen.”
Sutherland is currently focusing on his new TV series, Designated Survivor, which he’s filming right now for ABC. “It’s got the feeling of The West Wing, but there’s a thrilling aspect to the show as well,” he says. “I have not been as excited about doing something as I am right now, since the early days of 24.”
On the show, he plays Tom Kirkman, a low-ranking cabinet member who becomes president after an attack on the State of the Union address. It also features Natascha McElhone (Californication) as his wife, Maggie Q (Nikita) as an FBI investigator and Kal Penn (Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle) — who worked in various capacities for the Obama administration off and on since 2009 — as Kirkman’s speechwriter.
“‘Designated survivor’ refers to a member of each party during a State of the Union who is sequestered, so if the entire ascendency to the president is wiped out, you have a representative for each party from the cabinet and one of those people becomes president,” Sutherland explains. “I play a housing minister who is about to be fired and, as punishment, is made to be the designated survivor during the State of the Union.”
After a “terrible attack,” he is appointed president and faces three problems: How does his family adapt to his new role? How does he deal with political rivals and a power-hungry military? And how will he find the person or persons responsible for the attack. “The character has to face all of these fights and figure out the appropriate response,” he says. “That’s what the first season is about.”
Sutherland, who previously told Rolling Stone that he did not want people to underestimate his commitment to his music career, says another thing he likes about his show is its shooting schedule. “I’m touring in April and May and we begin shooting again in June,” he says. “The way I was able to schedule that work, I will still be able to play five, six dates a month.”