"24"s Jack Bauer gets conflicted on torture

Tue Jan 13, 2009 6:38pm EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Special agent Jack Bauer is back on a television thriller "24," and after an almost two-year break, he is feeling a little conflicted -- especially on the controversial subject of torture.

The popular Fox program took heat in 2004 and 2005 for what was seen as popularizing torture at a time when the United States was being condemned worldwide for its treatment of detainees at Guantanamo and at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

But actor Kiefer Sutherland, who returned to American TV screens this week in a two-hour premiere of "24," says counterterrorism unit head Bauer is older, wiser and undergoing an inner struggle both personally and professionally.

"Jack Bauer is in a position where he is questioning a lot of what he has to do," Sutherland said on Tuesday at the Television Critics Association meetings. "He is wrestling with his own history and what he believes is right and fair. ... It is a line which travels through all the episodes this year."

In the season premiere, Bauer faces questions over possible human rights violations before a congressional hearing.

Sutherland and "24" writer and executive producer Howard Gordon said the change was partly a response to growing discomfort in the media over Bauer's methods of extracting information from his suspects.

Some of the more extreme methods included chemical injections, an interrogation using a defibrillator and showing a detainee a video of his child being executed.

"If you take a look at the debate over physical torture in our country, I thought it was fantastic of Howard to embrace that and bring it into the show," Sutherland said.   Continued...

<p>Actor Kiefer Sutherland speaks at the ceremony where actor and Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker received a star on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood, California April 16, 2007. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>