The ticking clock was reset for 24: Live Another Day, the groundbreaking and thrilling event series that follows heroic agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), now a fugitive from justice. Willing to risk his life and freedom to avert yet another global disaster, Jack needs the help of his old CTU confidante Chloe O’Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub) and CIA agent Kate Morgan (Yvonne Strahovski), if he’s going to save the world again. The show also stars William Devane, Kim Raver, Tate Donovan, Benjamin Bratt, Giles Matthey, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Michael Wincott, Stephen Fry and Michelle Fairley.
During this recent interview to discuss the event series, executive producers Howard Gordon and Robert Cochran (who is the show’s co-creator with Joel Surnow) talked about reaching the impressive 200 episodes milestone, what they’re most proud of with regard to the legacy of 24, that there will be some upcoming time jumps in the story, why they decided to explore the Alzheimer’s storyline for President Heller (Devane), how Audrey (Raver) will be in the mix in the remaining episodes, what Michelle Fairley has brought to the show, how they feel like they’re collapsing across the finish line now, what Jack Bauer’s fate might ultimately be, whether more seasons could happen, and the possibility of carrying on in this format, but with another lead character. Check out what they had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers.
ROBERT COCHRAN: It’s fantastic. It’s something that makes us very humble and very thankful to the fans, all around the world and in the countries that have supported us all these years. I can promise you that when we started the show, this kind of thing didn’t even enter our minds. We were just trying to get to Episode 2. So, the fact that we got this far is incredible, and we’re very thankful for it.
HOWARD GORDON: That’s true. It represents over a decade of all of our lives. I think a lot of the friendships and the camaraderie that we’ve developed with our colleagues, really is a monument to that. I’ve looked at the box set and often said, “Put it on top of my tombstone, because that was my 40s.” So, this was a wonderful opportunity to revisit that and to top it off.
What are you most proud of, in regard to the legacy of 24?
COCHRAN: The fact that it’s lasted as long as it has is something that makes us very proud, and the fact that it’s made such an impact on popular culture. It’s become a touchstone. Somebody can say 24 or they can say Jack Bauer, and you know exactly what they’re talking about. Some of the political and cultural debates that we’ve had, over the last decade or so, we’ve been able to be a part of that. Not that the debate was about us, but that the show itself could contribute to that and be a part of that has been quite amazing.
GORDON: For me, the legacy goes to the people who made the show, from Bob and Joel’s first pilot to the very last episode, which was a challenging one because endings are hard, and sometimes harder than beginnings. Everybody treated this thing as seriously, from the first episode to the very last one. No one ever dropped the ball. No one ever stopped debating and fighting to make this show the very best that it could be. The fact that we kept the flame burning as brightly as we did, in terms of effort and in terms of our industry, is the legacy of the show that I’m most proud of.
Howard, you’ve said that 24: Live Another Day would cover 24 hours over the 12 episodes. Is that still the plan?
So, there will be some time jumps coming up?
What can you say about the nature of those time jumps?
GORDON: We’ve been sworn to secrecy.
COCHRAN: We’re so used to not giving anything away that we can’t help ourselves.
COCHRAN: I think so. That’s a good question, and we wrestled with that aspect of it. If he was symptomatic to the degree that it was noticeable by those around him, he’d have no business remaining in the presidency. There would be not much sympathy for him because you’d think he has to step down, and there would be not much sympathy for the people around him because why would they tolerate it when the state of the country, and maybe the world, is at stake. So, if he was noticeably symptomatic, it would have damaged the story and made it less credible. We had to do it in such a way that you’d believe it, and he knows it. It’s not a question of will he ever step down? He will. It’s a question of when, and of him just getting through this day. Because he’s not noticeably symptomatic, if he could just get through this day and accomplish the things he wants to accomplish, than it’s okay and he’ll step down shortly after that. That was our thinking.
How will Audrey be in the mix, in the remainder of the season?
COCHRAN: I can tell you that she will be very prominent, and that she’ll play a very important role.
GORDON: If you really look at the people who Jack has lost, and who mean something to Jack, Audrey is one of the less than a handful of people who are still alive and mean something to Jack. So, because of that, Jack’s intersecting with her life will have a tremendous impact. She’s a big part of the story.
What has Michelle Fairley brought to the story, as Margot Al-Harazi?
COCHRAN: She’s scary. She makes it believable. No matter what we ask her to do, she does it in such a way that you believe someone is doing that, right in front of you. She’s just great. She’s a terrific actress who really makes it work and makes it real. That’s the main thing. It’s gotta be real.
How did you decide on the drones as Margot’s weapon of choice?
GORDON: We actually had a drone in Season 6, when it was something that no one had heard about. The fact that they have entered the popular discourse and become a matter of tremendous policy debate, it’s such a hot-button issue. 24 does draw from the headlines. We are fishing in the same pond as current events, and it was something that we hadn’t seen before. It’s funny, we got calls from people on other shows, and we beat a bunch of people to the punch.
Have you had to make any script changes, as the season has continued?
COCHRAN: No more than usual. Since the first season, we never have been as far ahead as people think. We’re not ahead, at all, usually. But, this season hasn’t been any worse than most of them. It was easier, in the sense that we only had 12 to do. Nevertheless, we’re probably just collapsing across the finish line, as usual.
GORDON: That is the question of the decade.
COCHRAN: I agree that that’s the big question the series poses. That’s exactly the question, but I don’t think we should answer that, except by letting people see the show. But, that’s the question we ask ourselves in the story room, all the time. What is Jack’s ultimate fate? Can he achieve some sort of personal peace and personal happiness, or is that simply not his destiny? That is the question we ask ourselves, and we’ll see how it plays out.
Is there no chance that there will be another season of 24, or is the door even slightly open for that?
GORDON: I would have said four years ago that it was about as definite as it could be, so we’ve learned to never say never. But everybody is feeling the appropriate bruises and wear-and-tear that doing this show gives, so right now is probably not the best time to answer that question.
Obviously, Jack Bauer is the face of 24, but do you think that the franchise could continue with Yvonne Strahovski in the lead role?
COCHRAN: I think it’s a possibility. It’s something we’ll certainly think about. There’s no specific plans right now, but that’s the thing that we’d certainly consider.
GORDON: What we’ve talked about often is that Bob and Joel created this amazing, real-time format. They created Jack Bauer, as well, who’s an amazing character, but the format itself is very sturdy and very durable. We think it’s something that, with the right story could be compelling. There are no plans, but if a story presented itself to us, or we thought of one, I think we’d all be open to it.
24: Live Another Day airs on Monday nights on Fox.