Let's get the Comic-Con 2014 live-blogging extravaganza started! Over the next four days, I'll be blogging and live-blogging on a slew of Comic-Con panels from Ballroom 20 and Hall H.
Thursday will see a number of live-blogs, as I sit in Ballroom 20 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Let's start with “24,” which returns to Comic-Con for the first time in years, bringing Kiefer Sutherland and promising many, many questions about the future of the franchise, as well as “24: Live Another Day.”
As recently as Sunday, Peter Rice said that no determinations had been made about whether “24” will live yet another day, but let's see if there were secrets being saved for San Diego…
10:01 a.m. The panel was supposed to start a minute ago, but people are still filing in. The room will be totally packed by the time we get going, I assume… The panel is just Kiefer Sutherland and Jon Cassar, at least as far as the program says, but I'd expect special guests. Because there are ALWAYS special guests at Comic-Con.
10:06 a.m. After a fantastic clip reel of Jack Bauer highlights over the years, Jon Cassar takes the stage and introduces Kiefer, in a gray-blue sweater.
10:07 a.m. “This is the most nervous I've ever seen him. I'm going to relish this,” Kiefer says of Cassar.
10:07 a.m. “It was difficult. They've got a lot of rules. The gun thing was a real issue,” Kiefer says of shooting in London. He says that whenever they needed anything back in the day, a prop master named Sterling could get them anything. But in London, to have a gun on-set, they needed six weeks notice. Kiefer notes that they had to think of different ways to kill people this season, which helped them. They'd shot with the same crew as well and this time they had to use a different crew. “It took us a few months, actually, in all fairness to get close to each other,” Kiefer says. “London was a fantastic experience,” he finally declares. He recalls a day shooting on the Thames, discussing the history there. “It was amazing walking by a building that was 500 years old and it kinda looked average,” he says, praising the “unique and special” set.
10:10 a.m. Shooting in Central London had challenges. “In Los Angeles, police officers can basically say 'You can't walk here.' In London, they can't. People are very clear about their rights,” Kiefer says, making a Magna Carta joke. They had 3000 people watching them shooting some days, but Kiefer praises the crowd for actually listening when they were told to move to different sides. “You'd say 'Go behind the barrier' and they did! In Los Angeles, they'd steal the barrier,” Cassar cracks.
10:12 a.m. Was being called back for “Live Another Day” Kiefer's dream come true or his nightmare? “I think we left it open in Season 8 because I think we had every intention of doing a film,” He says. “This character has been the greatest gift in my career,” Sutherland says. He was doing a play on Broadway when Howard Gordon called to bring him back. “We resigned up pretty quickly,” Kiefer says. But once they started doing it? “The panic was extraordinary,” Kiefer laughs. He says that none of them would say that they ever made a perfect season over eight season, but they were proud of what they did. “So the idea of opening that up again and potentially damaging that was massive,” Kiefer says. Between accepting and shooting he had six months to work himself into knots. “I remember the first three days when we were shooting… 'Does this seem familiar? Does this seem anything like Jack Bauer?” One of his first scenes shooting was Jack jumping over a railing onto a beach. “I looked at Jon like, 'I'm a little older. I don't know if I can make it over that railing.'” Kiefer says.
10:17 a.m. Kiefer praises the British armorer on the set.
10:17 a.m. Kiefer says they wanted to make sure to let the show evolve. He went back and looked at the first episode, the pilot. “There was so much hope in this guy,” Kiefer reflects. He says that Jack Bauer has run out of patience and that's the key to how the character has changed. “There's nothing in his immediate future that he's fighting for,” Kiefer says. Kiefer says he was tired of covering his own tattoos, so he wrote a biography for Jack that allowed him to keep them.
10:19 a.m. Where did Jack end up at the end of “Live Another Day”? “The fact that he managed to save Chloe in that moment gave him some satisfaction and the day had been finished,” Kiefer says of Jack's little smile as he gives himself over to the Russians. He jokes that they threw out many possible endings and even suggested a DVD extra in which Jack gets on the helicopter, pulls out a hand grenade and blows up the chopper. “On some level we kinda copped out because it's hard to let it go. It's hard to end it,” Kiefer says, mentioning the “wonderful rush” he gets from sitting a room with us. “We don't work in a vacuum and we are cognizant and aware of your reaction,” Kiefer says. It was difficult to craft an ending because nobody wanted to let the show go. “Your response to the end of this season was really gracious and kind,” he says.
10:22 a.m. Applause for a mention of Bill Devane. Kiefer calls Kim Raver one of his dearest friends. He talks about Mary-Lynn Rajskub's “halo around her” that says/implies/suggests that they can't kill her off. Kiefer recalls his first meeting with Raver on set, an intimate scene in which he'd met her five minutes earlier and then met her husband. He hadn't seen her for two years before “Live Another Day” and things picked up like no time had passed.
10:25 a.m. “He's crazy,” Kiefer says of Bill Devane. “He really is,” Cassar agrees. It turns out that Devane loves playing polo and loved complaining about the British food. Kiefer, it turns out, does a nifty Bill Devane impression. “He was the fantastic miserable traveler,” Kiefer jokes. Cassar tells us to watch Bill Devane's wardrobe in the season, because Devane had a lot of influence on how his shirt and tie and jackets changed during the season.
10:26 a.m. Kiefer remembers back in the early '80s that television was seen as the end of your career, followed by commercials and death. “The fear of television was playing a character over a long period of time,” Sutherland says. He credits “24” and “ER” and “Sopranos” as being among the shows that taught actors that characters can evolve on TV. “I tried to explain to other actors, 'No, you've got to try this. This is amazing,'” Kiefer says. “It's actually one of the most rewarding acting activities that you can imagine,” he says. “I'm a huge movie fan and I go to less and less films,” Kiefer admits, referencing “Ray Donovan” and “Game of Thrones” among the great things out there on TV now.
10:31 a.m. A brief celebration of Michelle Fairley and discussing how to kill her character. Kiefer didn't think it was fair to shoot her and Kiefer suggested throwing her out of the wind. “In the UK, we had a stunt crew that was really the best that I've ever seen. These guys were extraordinary,” Kiefer says, raving about the woman he actually threw out of the window. “They did that so well and it was such a violent end that that was really the payoff,” he says.
10:33 a.m. Kiefer also takes credit for the Benjamin Bratt hand-on-the-table line. He praises the writers, but also praises the writers for leaving room for things to breathe and grow. He refers to when opportunities present themselves, remembering a similar interrogation scene in the first season. “People came to work and they were excited and they wanted to do something different or bold and that kinda shaped how we did the show,” Kiefer says. “And they gave us the freedom to do it,” Cassar says. “I liken our show to a band and most rock-n-roll bands break up and some stay together for different reasons and we stayed together because everybody respected what we did,” Kiefer says. “The writers wrote, the directors directed, the actors acted. Everybody did their jobs.”
10:36 a.m. How much of Kiefer is in Jack and how much of Jack is in Kiefer? “Oh, very different. Just take a look at my record. Vastly different,” he swears “I promise you when I grow up, that's the guy I would like to be,” Kiefer says. Kiefer says he has a very strong sense of right and wrong and that he shares that with Jack Bauer. That's what he respects most about Jack and how he knows how to play Jack reliably. “That moral compass of his is his code of life,” Kiefer says.
10:38 a.m. Kiefer tells a story about the first season and going to the wrong location for shooting. “I'm never late. I've never missed a day's work and I've never really been late except for this one time,” Kiefer says. Then he ran out of gas. He was still in his suit from a Jay Leno appearance. And he was running with a gas can. “And someone yells out 'Yeah! Jack Bauer,' because they think we're shooting a scene,” he remembers. “And unfortunately there's a lot of stories like this,” Kiefer says. He has another story about seeing an old lady walking on Olympic with groceries.. He saw her get accosted and he jumped out and hit one of the guys. It turns out that it was a student film shooting.”That thing they put at the beginning of the show about 'Don't try this at home,' they mean it,” Kiefer says.
10:41 a.m. Who would Kiefer dress up as if he had to walk on the Comic-Con floor? “The first instinct is just a storm trooper from 'Star Wars.' No one would know who you are and your body is defined,” Kiefer says.
10:41 a.m. At Sutherland family reunions do they have arguments about whose characters are more badass? “We don't seem to talk about work, which is very odd,” Kiefer says. Apparently Cassar just directed Kiefer and Donald in a movie. “It's almost like an odd family rule: You don't bring business to the table. But I can kick his ass,” Kiefer says.
10:43 a.m. Kiefer says that making video games and TV is very different — “vastly different” — but he expects that very soon the technologies are going to come together. “This is a writers' dream! You can get rid of actors completely,” he jokes of the mo-cap technology he had to work with on “Metal Gear Solid.”
10:45 a.m. Kiefer felt that Jack Bauer started as a reluctant action hero. “In that very first day, he was given a series of circumstances that were [nearly] insurmountable and he did his very best with them,” He says. “The evolution of the character is really by virtue of loss,” Kiefer notes. He's lost so much and “In Season 9, he's just angry.”
10:47 a.m. “We don't consider the political ramifications outside of our show. It's a show,” Kiefer says of torture and drones and all of that. He remembers shooting the pilot pre-9/11 and how the world has kept echoing the imagination of the writers. “There was this uncanny thing that was happening where our writers would imagine the worst scenario and that scenario would come true,” he says. But this season, the writers decided to rip from the headlines a little, rather than anticipating, hence the Edward Snowden echoes. “Is it espionage or is it patriotism to inform on your government for what it's doing?” Kiefer explains, claiming “24” didn't take a side.
10:50 a.m. What happened to President Heller after the finale? “I would expect that he's mourning the loss of his daughter,” Kiefer says, adding that in their heads, Heller has also resigned because of his illness.
10:51 a.m. Kiefer mentions a Sig Sauer model — the 337? — as his favorite gun on the show. He praises for not jamming. And now you know! Kiefer jokes about how other actors take different weapons and get frustrated because their guns keep jamming and his gun never jams. Yvonne Strahovski, however, caught on and wanted Kiefer's gun after a few misfires. He let her use his gun for a scene. “Like we were sharing a cigarette,” Kiefer jokes. She liked his gun better.
10:54 a.m. Ah, Comic-Con question-askers.
10:55 a.m. A questioner asks for a “dammit.” Kiefer gets shy, but delivers with aplomb. “Try another one,” Cassar says. “Dammnit, Jon. Stop pushing me!”
10:55 a.m. “We had such an extraordinary cast this year. It would be hard to pick. There are so many fantastic actors out there,” Kiefer says of dream co-stars. He's a big Gene Hackman fans. “My dream fantasy would have been to work with someone like that,” he says. “There is a real revolving door with actors. Because we kill so many of them,” he says of the show's stellar cast.
10:58 a.m. Last question. Is there any chance of a “24” movie? “It's hard to talk about that quite honestly,” Cassar says of the possibility he might direct. “We're still talking about the movie. It's still potentially out there,” Cassar says. “But would you do it?” Kiefer asks. “I'd love to,” Cassar agrees.
That's all, folks.