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TCA Press Tour: Having Jack Bauer smile felt 'awkward,' says star Kiefer Sutherland

January 11, 2010 |  4:31 pm


At the outset of "24's" eighth season, Jack Bauer takes a moment to smile. It's a big, broad smile.

Considering the dark places Jack has gone, suffering through the loss of his wife and the estrangement of his daughter in previous seasons, star Kiefer Sutherland said it wasn't something that came naturally.

"When we first shot it, it felt awkward -- for me and everyone else involved."

When we meet back up with Jack, he's recovered nicely from his illness -- he was infected by some bad nuclear elements -- and getting ready to move back to Los Angeles with his daughter, Kim, her husband and his granddaughter. That's right, he's Grandpa Jack now.

"I would have to think Jack is a little slower now," Sutherland said. Not that the actor-executive producer is suggesting that this season will be "24's" last. "As I've always said, as long as people want us to make it, and are interesting in watching it, I'd be interested in doing it," he said. "The task of writing it is far greater than the task of acting in it."

But the dark will resurface, Sutherland reassured.

"All of that will really have some resonance throughout the later episodes," he said.

How exactly? Well, Renee Walker has turned into something of a renegade this season. Something of a Jacqueline Bauer, perhaps? Sorry, this is a spoiler-free zone!

Annie Wersching, who plays Renee, did offer this: "This year she has absolutely nothing to lose, which makes her really dangerous."

This season also marks the return of Freddie Prinze Jr., who said he sent the casting director a box of cookies when he learned he got the role of CTU field agent Cole Ortiz. "I don't get offered parts like this very often," he said. "For most of my career, I'm struggling to fall in love for 96 minutes -- and I always get the girl!"

Ortiz's love interest is CTU data analyst Dana Walsh, played by Kattee Sackhoff in a decidedly more low-key role than her tough-as-nails Starbuck in "Battlestar Galactica." "Dana is actually closest to myself," Sackhoff said. Dana has a past though, "and yes, it's bad. This is '24!' C'mon!"

-- Denise Martin

Photo credit: Fox