Had you been intending to kill off Renee (Annie Wersching) all along?
"Typically we come upon these things as more improvisations, but this was one that we had come up with at the very beginning of the season and stuck with, for reasons that I think everybody is seeing right now. It's motivating Jack to this very final, climactic confrontation and taking him to a place he has never been before. I have to say that I'm taking people's outrage as a measure of interest, and their indifference would have been far more hurtful than their outrage. But we have a history of doing that. I remember when that happened with Edgar; we got a fair bit of angry email. But yes, this is something that we’ve thought about and thought about very carefully, and hopefully did it well."
Is the eighth season going to end the way it would have were it not also a series finale?
"It’s a good question, and it was one that the network asked as well. To me, the show was always going to end the way it was going to end, whether there was a ninth season or whether there was a movie because the story has been told. What I think changed, though, was the context of it all. I think any number of seasons in years past – season four, season five, I think even last year – could have been a really, really cool series finale. Only the fact that this was our series finale did it really have the kind of context that, wow, we’re really saying goodbye to this character. And there is a final moment that is very, very specific to the series finale. It's not so much a plot moment, but it’s a punctuation mark that I think is unique to the series finale. But the answer is really no. We told the story the way it was going to be told and would have no matter what."
In what sort of emotional state will Jack be left by the end of the series?
"We tried on a couple of very different endings for size and the one we [eventually] came to is the one that felt just right. So it was not for lack of trying a couple of different ways. But we knew when we saw it that this was the right way to do it. One thing we tried and didn't work, was a 'happily ever after' for Jack. What he will have done in the last six episodes leaves him once again in a very compromised place morally, ethically and emotionally. This show is a tragedy and so to give Jack a happy ending just didn't feel authentic. We gave him a happy beginning, and I really am very pleased with the way we started."
Without giving too much away, how will the story wind up?
"The people that were aligning - basically Chloe versus Jack versus President Taylor - are being taken to places that we've never seen them before. We knew it constituted a risk, one that was frankly challenging to write and, among the actors, pretty challenging to play. But it was one we think was worth taking and I think it pays off really well in the end. But in the spirit of trying to take the series to a place where it hasn’t been before, we've done this thing. It’s certainly not playing it safe, but it is very emotionally climactic and, we think, we’re pretty excited by it."
"Man, every season there is something that people seem to fixate on. You know, I got it and I guess all I kept telling people was to please wait until the story had been told before you commented. To me, I think episode 20 answered that question. I was really, really proud of that episode and what I liked about it, too, was that for the first time, this very complex and admittedly very confused character, this onion of a character, got peeled down to the nub and you finally really understand a little bit, anyway, who she is. Now of course she is a sociopath and of course it’s kind of an insane story - a girl from Rock Springs somehow managed to get in to CTU as an analyst under an alias. What I liked about it was that what felt unnatural or felt weird at the beginning was that very part, that she wasn’t authentic, that she was this counterfeit personality in the midst of our heroes."
Is anyone going to find Stephen Root’s body in that closet?
"They will, in the 25th hour. We actually had written a couple of discoveries and it really just messed up our storytelling, so I put it in the files where things that we can speculate happened after the twenty four hour frame. And fortunately, the body wouldn’t start smelling until the 25th hour."
"It’s really interesting because it was a profound, nerve-wracking, long and lengthy conversation we had about that, but we knew we needed to get there. There were a couple of things that really just pushed us over the edge here. The real time thing didn’t help any, but the fact of the matter is President Taylor has lost her family, this is really the crown jewel of her administration and, frankly, her own legacy, and that desire was so profound that we believed it could distort her otherwise really clear, straight vision and throw her off this moral compass. Charles Logan seemed like a great devil on her shoulder, a great Iago. The opportunity to have those two actors influence over each other – again, I have to say that seeing the end really will help answer this question better, but we all were aware of it. Cherry was anxious playing it. Frankly, it gets to be kind of monotonous if she makes all the right choices, but it is like a momentary backslide, and you see how that one moment, one lie begets another until, like Lady Macbeth, she finds herself too far gone and too steeped in blood to really go back again. So that ensnaring, that excretion of mistakes we see happening, she gets caught kind of in her own web. And again, its resolution is pretty exciting, and that is what we’re working toward."
When Fox axed the show, there was speculation it might move to another network. Was that a real possibility?
"It wasn’t something I wanted to do. It was something that I was willing to entertain as a loyal Fox employee and help Fox find new personnel to run the show, and maybe even recruit some of the guys who had been with me. But it was something that I think we all felt, when we really looked at each other, Kiefer included, was really that we were telling our final season. We kind of knew it at the beginning of the year."
What is the current status of the movie?
"Billy Ray has written a draft which Kiefer has read, and we’re all working together on the second draft. It’s not been shared with Fox or anybody [yet] so there is no official status right now. It’s very much a work in progress. Honestly, the movie division is on the other side of the lot and I can’t measure their intentions or their timing, and certainly can’t measure their reaction to the script because they haven’t read it yet. So I think it’s all very much speculative at this point. I think our preference would be to do it sooner than later, of course, and get Jack back out in front of people within a year or two, but I don’t know. That would be just me speaking."
Will the movie have the series as assumed knowledge?
"I’ve talked about this with Kiefer and with Billy Ray and we’re all trying to get in sync in terms of what we all believe is required. There are two sets of requirements, which is honouring the series and the creative integrity of the character, and also potentially bringing in a whole new group of people into the franchise who can then go back and watch, and believe it's been consistent. So I think we recognise that we’re serving two masters or two audiences here, not that they are mutually exclusive but there are two requirements. That is definitely an ongoing question. What I really think is important that we do is not retread and move forward with this character. When we begin he's in a different place than he’s been before, and I think we all recognise the need to do that and to find that space. That’s what we’re figuring out."
24 continues Mondays at 9/8c on Fox in the US and Sundays at 9pm on Sky1 in the UK.
Are you angry about the decision to kill off Renee? Were you a fan of the Dana Walsh subplot? Do you believe in the direction President Taylor is heading? Add your comments to this entry below!