Monday, April 11, 2011

Not Jack Bauer any more

The Star reports:

Can you save the world and lose your soul?

Ask Kiefer Sutherland.

For eight seasons, as the indestructible Jack Bauer on 24, he kept conquering insurmountable odds to keep the forces of global evil at bay.

But while it’s true that playing the human Timex watch who could take a licking and keep on ticking made Sutherland rich, powerful and famous, it also led him down a road of excess that landed him in the tabloids and — occasionally — even in jail.

“I am incredibly proud of the fact that 24 made it big around the world and was one of those things that transcended languages and cultures,” is he how he begins discussing the phenomenon backstage in his modest dressing room at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, where he’s currently part of an all-star cast packing the house with a revival of the 1973 Pulitzer Prize-winning play, That Championship Season.

He’s quieter, gentler and more elegantly spoken in person than the man he played to such great effect on television for so many years. In fact, he’s the first one to admit that “No, no, no, I am nothing like Jack Bauer.

“And at the beginning, that made it all a great deal of fun. There’s Kiefer doing all that stuff he would never dream of doing in real life. Adolescent fantasies come true. But you can’t live that for eight seasons.”

He looks up at me as though he were almost in a confessional, asking for forgiveness.

“The more I’ve stepped away from that character, the more I look back and say ‘How did I come up with that? How did I dig that out from inside me?’ Because there is nothing in Jack Bauer that you can find in Kiefer Sutherland’s personality.

“And after a while, playing someone so unlike you for so many years takes a toll. It gets very stressful. I found my own way of cutting loose. And was it the smartest? Hell, no. I’ll be the first person to admit I’ve been guilty of making some dumb decisions.

“How old am I now? 44. Okay, Kiefer, time to get on with life.”

In truth, he seems different than he has on previous encounters over the years. “I feel cool, settled and in a good space in my life right now.”

But he’s the first person to admit, “that the demons stay with you.”

He instantly backpedals a bit, insisting that “I haven’t been tortured or tormented or had any deeply rooted demons tearing at me. I’ve taken things for granted, I’ve been a bit reckless, but there’s no darkness eating away at me. I’ve had a great childhood, a great life.”

Indeed he has. More.

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