Jack Bauer’s back, 24 fans — and he has another burgeoning global disaster on his hands.
When last we saw him in 24’s 2010 series finale, Kiefer Sutherland’s rogue U.S. agent was on the run, aided by his loyal comrade, acting CTU chief Chloe O’Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub), who ordered the drone tracking his every move shut down as the final clock ran out.
Now a new countdown begins as the much-anticipated 24: Live Another Day begins its 12-episode run this month. Yes, that theoretically means two hours per episode this time, but the show’s producers promise that Live Another Day will retain its real-time format and split-screen storytelling.
Gearing up four years after the events of the series finale, 24: Live Another Day moves the action to London, where Jack is on a brand-new, terrorist-thwarting mission, staying just one step ahead of dogged CIA agent Kate Morgan (Dexter’s Yvonne Strahovski) and working without the help of his most trusted ally, Chloe.
“Whether he’s fighting on the side of good, we don’t know,” says executive producer Manny Coto. “But this CIA agent is determined to catch him. And as the story progresses — as she comes closer and closer to him — Chloe O’Brian will enter the picture and we learn that she has also been damaged over these four years. She does not work for CTU. She has turned against the government and — for want of a better term — is almost a more radical, [Edward] Snowden-type character.”
For Rajskub, the fan-favorite Chloe, the surprise of 24’s return was coupled with an agonizing wait to find out if she — and Chloe — would make the trip to London. Rajskub tweeted with anxious fans and bided her time.
“When we wrapped 24, I spent a good year or two waiting for the feature film — everything back then was about the feature, and people talked about that for a long time,” she recalls. “After a couple years, I thought, ‘OK, well it’s not happening. Moving on. I’m not even gonna have that in the back of my mind anymore.’ So when they announced this new series, it was pretty shocking. And then it took a couple of months for meto get the official call.”
Rajskub says she doesn’t yet know all of Chloe’s secrets and scars from the years between each 24 incarnation, but her London-punk look and professional and sexual allegiance to mysterious, militant hacker Adrian Cross (Michael Wincott) suggest that this is a very different Chloe, indeed.
“I’ve been given enough of a backstory to make a significant approach,” Rajskub says. “Chloe at this point is second nature to me, so she’s still in there somewhere, but she’s had some tragic things happen in her personal life and what she’s doing now. It’s been pretty satisfying to come into this character that’s completely familiar to me and then just take her somewhere else.”
Sutherland says he’s also exhilarated by the chance to explore the imperviousness of Jack and Chloe’s bond, given the sacrifices and losses each has endured. “At the very beginning of this show, they’re actually pitted against each other by virtue of a set of circumstances, so that is a dynamic that Mary Lynn and I get to play that’s very exciting — and it’s also something that’s going to evolve over the course of the show,” he says. “Anytime an actor gets to play something as complex as a past loyalty that is potentially going to be betrayed, that’s a lot of meat. It’s a great opportunity for us.”
“That’s been my favorite part so far,” Rajskub agrees. “It’s taken horrible circumstances to get me to this point, but I’ve in my own way confronted him and we’ve butted heads — and you know at the end of the day I’m gonna end up helping him, because we do have that relationship. But it’s very conflicted. I am pretty angry and not doing that well.”
24 vets William Devane, whose James Heller is now the U.S. president, and Kim Raver — Heller’s daughter Audrey, who is now recovered from her torment at the hands of Chinese agents and wed to her dad’s chief of staff, Mark Boudreau (Tate Donovan) — also return for Live Another Day. Rounding out the core cast are Benjamin Bratt as CIA chief Steve Navarro, True Blood’s Giles Matthey as savvy computer tech Jordan Reed, and Gbenga Akinnagbe as no-nonsense field operative Erik Ritter.
“Being on a show like this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience — and this is like, ‘Oh, twice in a lifetime!’” Rajskub says. “I get to come back and have this dark transformation and also work with people who feel like family to me and then get to go that much deeper. It’s been a challenge and a little bit scarier as an actor, but that’s the kind of stuff you live to do. I’m having a blast with it.”
24: Live Another Day premieres Monday, May 5 at 8/7CT on FOX
Photo © 2014 Fox Broadcasting Co. Credit: Harley Evans/FOX