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When 24 ended after eight seasons in 2010, there was the possibility of a movie, but none of the cast or crew returning for the revived 12-episode event series 24: Live Another Day thought the show would be back in this form.
“We had really put the experience to bed,” star Kiefer Sutherland told The Hollywood Reporter at the Live Another Day premiere. “[Showrunner] Howard [Gordon] was tired, and he loved writing it but it’s an unbelievably prolific amount of work. It’s the equivalent of 12 films a year for eight years. I mean, that’s a lifetime career. No, the series was done.”
Sutherland added that he learned about plans for a revival when he called Gordon, who had moved on to Homeland, to congratulate him on his Golden Globe win for the Showtime series.
“He said, ‘Wow, I’m really glad you called, I need to talk to you about something,'” Sutherland recalled. “I was as surprised to hear that from him as I’m sure everyone else was to hear that we were going to do another season.”
Gordon said he felt like the show was over four years ago but he can understand missing the characters.
“It was time to say goodbye and put it behind us, and it was one of those things that kind of bubbled up and by the time the idea even dawned on us, you missed Jack [Bauer] so much that it felt inevitable to bring him back,” Gordon said on the red carpet at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York Friday night.
Director Jon Cassar, who actually stopped working on the original series in its penultimate season, was also surprised to get the call about Live Another Day but said it was “an instant yes” when Sutherland and Gordon asked him if he was in.
24 vet Kim Raver said that when they started filming the event series, it was like nothing had changed.
“My first day, my first scene was with Bill Devane,” she said. “Jon Cassar yelled, ‘Action,’ and it was like we had never left”
With 24 streaming on Netflix and Amazon, the show never left many fans’ screens. And Cassar argued that those on-demand repeats could lead to the return of more beloved series.
“I think 24 is probably on the edge of a new wave, and that new wave I think is you’re going to see more and more television shows coming back because for a lot of people it’s new,” Cassar explained. “If you’re watching it for the first time on Hulu or Netflix or DVD or whatever you’re doing, it’s new for you. It hasn’t been off the air for four or five years, so I think you’re going to see a lot of that. I mean, you see Veronica Mars coming back with the movie; [a revival of] Heroes has been announced. So again, I think we’re right on the leading edge. I think you’re going to see more series coming back, and for the networks it’s great because it’s an established show, so you’ve got eyes on it instantly, and that’s really the hardest thing. That’s why pilots fail, because it’s so hard to get people into it. So shows that have been on the air have eyes right away.”
Raver also pointed out that people who didn’t watch the show when it was originally on Fox have discovered it since it’s been off the air.
“I think there’s an even bigger fan base than there was when it was on,” she told THR. “So to be able to come back and revisit it, we hope to kind of be able to do the old fans proud who were watching it when it was on, and I think the new people coming to it can jump in and still understand.”
One thing that has changed from the original incarnation of 24 is the number of episodes. Live Another Day is a limited event series, with only 12 episodes, which has prompted a compression of the show’s trademark real-time structure of each episode being one hour of a single day.
“It’s a real-time show. We’re covering the events of the day. We’re not saying how exactly,” co-showrunner Evan Katz said of modifications with the new 12-episode format. “I think there is some compression in the storytelling involved in that we cut out the boring parts.”
Indeed, Sutherland, co-showrunner Manny Coto and Mary Lynn Rajskub all pointed out that having fewer episodes allowed them to do away with time-filling shows they used to have.
“We knew we had less time to tell these stories so we couldn’t have that episode that would usually crop up around 17 or 16 where we had to kind of vamp for a while until we figured out what the rest of the season was going to be,” Coto told THR. “The transition episodes, those are gone. So in this situation, every episode is kind of the big episode.”
“I remember it was in season two, I was stuck on a plane for two hours, and it was like the most boring crap we’d ever made,” Sutherland added. “So [only having 12 episodes is] helpful for that. It gives the writers some more latitude.”
“I think it’s hopefully going to improve the story because it’s more jam-packed in the 12 rather than stretching it out,” Rajskub said, adding that the show still feels the same.
“It has the same pacing; it has the same moment-to-moment countdown,” she said. “You know, fudging the time a little bit, going ahead, but the scripts have the same pulse and energy.”
When asked what drew him to the show, Bratt was quick to joke, “the money.”
In all seriousness, the Law & Order alum said he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be on a show of 24‘s caliber, noting that while he missed the show when it was originally on Fox, he did his homework and was impressed by how on-point the series was.
The actor, who’s since moved on to movies, suggested that the short-term nature of Live Another Day also appealed to him.
Strahovski, who was a fan of the original series, said that filming the revived version was “faster” than she thought it would be, explaining that shooting 24 is almost as intense as watching it.
“Shooting an episode of 24 is kind of like watching it, you know, you’re biting your nails, which is great,” she said. “Jon Cassar … sort of sets that energy and pace on set that is great for us as actors to keep that energy and put it in the scenes.”
Another new addition to the cast, Gbenga Akinnagbe, said he hadn’t watched the original series before he got the part and tried in vain to catch up before leaving to film Live Another Day in London.
“I tried to catch up in the two weeks I had before coming out to London, and I got to about season two before I was like, ‘I gotta pack,’ ” Akinnagbe said, “so I haven’t seen much of the series.”
But he noted that the few others who hadn’t seen Jack Bauer in action before would be entertained by Live Another Day.
“If you’ve never seen the show, and I’m one of maybe six people on the planet who hasn’t,” he added. “You can watch this season or these 12 episodes and not be lost or wonder what’s going on and be thoroughly entertained.”
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