Kiefer Sutherland is back on television, and this time he’s not interrogating presidents — he is the president. After a long and fruitful run on 24, it would be understandable if Sutherland took a break from the small screen, but the story options on Designated Survivor were enough for the veteran actor to sign up for a term.
The premise of one of fall’s hottest new shows finds Sutherland’s Tom Kirkman thrust from his position as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to president after a terrorist attack during the State of the Union. The wide variety of topics that the series offered, including the sudden adjustment in family life, investigation into the attack, and the world of politics, was what appealed to the actor.
“That’s a limitless canvas to paint on,” he tells EW. “In my experience of having done 24, the more opportunities that you can have to save yourself from getting boxed into a corner is really great. And David Guggenheim, who wrote the screenplay, did that in such a beautiful way that immediately it was a story that I wanted to be a part of.”
Sutherland’s newest TV character is no Jack Bauer (he wears glasses!), but the two roles seem to both closely follow the template of what characters appeal to the actor.
“I’m drawn to a character that is willing to put themselves in the face of insurmountable odds and know that they can’t wholly win, but they’re going to take on the responsibility of action,” he shares.
Designated Survivor premieres on ABC Wednesday 10 p.m. ET. Learn more about the series in Sutherland’s interview above.