Sorry, 24 fans, Kiefer Sutherland isn’t playing Jack Bauer again anytime soon.
Producers of the Fox series kept some hope alive at Comic-Con when they hinted that there could be an opportunity for them to wrap up Jack’s story for good following the cliffhanger ending in the 2014 miniseries, 24: Live Another Day.
“It’s not something that I’m thinking of and certainly not [executive producer] Howard Gordon,” Sutherland, 49, told a handful of reporters after a Television Critics Association session for his new ABC drama, Designated Survivor.
Even so, Sutherland remains firmly ingrained in the 24 universe, serving as an executive producer on the upcoming 24: Legacy, which is being viewed as an expansion of that world and not a reboot.
“My responsibilities to 24 -- other than being incredibly grateful as a person for my experience on it -- but for this new show, the first few scripts are really, really solid,” he said. “I think they cast them really cleverly. Howard would run ideas or what they were thinking, almost as a courtesy and he certainly didn’t need to. But I told them that I thought that the direction that they were headed was really exciting and really cool.”
“I’ve always said that the idea was the star of  and I think an audience will realize that. I think this new version of 24 is going to be really exciting,” Sutherland continued. “I wish them the best and once I transitioned or pivoted into shooting this, I became solely focused on this and that’s where I’m at right now.”
In July, Gordon told Comic-Con attendees that 24: Live Another Day “was a momentary punctuation mark” for Jack Bauer, adding that 24: Legacy -- starring Corey Hawkins in the lead role -- is a “creative launch” for the franchise.
“We all felt that Kiefer had told his story with Live Another Day,” Gordon added. “Fortunately, Kiefer read the script [for Legacy] and saw it after we shot it and loved it.”
In the upcoming political thriller Designated Survivor, Sutherland plays Tom Kirkman, a low-level White House cabinet member who becomes the de facto president of the United States after a devastating attack on Washington, D.C., during the elected commander in chief’s State of the Union address.
Sutherland admitted he originally had no plans on returning to the small screen, but then read the script. “I found myself on page 22 and I remember saying, ‘Sh*t,’” he admitted during the panel session, eliciting chuckles in the room.
He further elaborated on why he picked Designated Survivor for his anticipated return to television.
“I had read a lot of things for television. The greatest experience I have had was my experience on 24,” he said. “To do [more than 200] episodes of that show, never once did I feel that I was playing the same character over and over. That character, if you take a look at the first season to the last ninth season, that character was continually evolving. For me, it’s one of the most interesting gifts [for an] actor in the world. It presents great challenges.”
“It wasn’t that I wasn’t looking for it, I hadn’t read anything very good and I didn’t want to just do something for the sake of doing it, so I was just caught off-guard by how special I thought [the Designated Survivor] script was,” Sutherland said.
As for what Jack Bauer would think of Tom Kirkman if they met, Sutherland had some fun with the question.
“Good looking guy,” he deadpanned. “Jack Bauer is a character who had incredible conviction, had a real moral compass for that circumstance as well. I would have to believe that he would trust him.”
Designated Survivor premieres Sept. 21 on ABC.