Yes, he's back, by which we mean, of course, "24" terrorism-thwarter Jack Bauer. But so is she, by which we mean Chloe O'Brian, the super-skilled tech geek without whom Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) could not have saved the world quite as many times during his CTU days.
In the new 12-episode miniseries "24: Live Another Day" (premiering Monday, 5/5 on Fox), neither Jack nor Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) have found their way back into the good graces of CTU — or their home country in general — but they will find themselves teaming up again.
Chloe's at the center of an underground hacker world, and Jack becomes aware of a plot to assassinate U.S. President James Heller: a man Jack respects; a man who fathered Jack's one-time love, Audrey; and a man whose murder would set off a world war. Who else but Jack would you call on in such a situation, and who else but Chloe could help him unravel the conspiracy to kill the POTUS?
Comedian and actress Rajskub, who joined the original "24" in Season 3 and was in more episodes of the show than anyone except Sutherland, talked to Yahoo TV about the joy and anxiety of returning to her role as nerd queen Chloe, the big confrontation ahead between friends Chloe and Jack, Chloe's new romance, the "outrageous, over-the-top" season ender, and whether or not she thinks the "24" universe will, well, live another day after "Live Another Day."
We've seen the two-hour premiere episode, and it honestly felt like the show never went away.
That's how I felt. It definitely felt like that when we filmed it, like it's the classic "24." Hopefully, it will still be exciting to people. It's been cool to see Kiefer really excited and happy, too. Seeing him consistently, throughout the run of this, be really happy and excited — that says a lot, because he's the first one to be questioning what we're doing, [making sure] it's working. And everyone is aware, especially him, of what we're confronting in bringing this show back from the dead.
Were you hesitant at all? Rumors persisted for years that a movie was going to happen, but when this idea of a limited series came up, what did you think? Did you think, "Oh, this is just another rumor"?
That's funny that you say it like that, because I just remembered that at a party — I think it was a Fox party, maybe an "Arrested Development" premiere — but someone said to me that they were talking about it. He was like, "Oh yeah, that's going to happen." I said, "No, it's not." I didn't believe this guy for a second. So when I found out it was going to happen, I was really in shock. And then I warmed up to the idea, and of course I didn't hesitate.
It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing; it's an amazing job. And even if I had [hesitated], I couldn't get away with not being in it. I would never live that down. [Laughs.] Even if I didn't want to, if there was a part of me that was like, "No, this isn't the right thing for me," I would still have to do it. That would be like torture to have the show made, and not be a part of it, and then people would give me crap forever. But of course, I wanted to do it. It's an amazing opportunity, and for it to happen again is crazy. In London, with a Goth look… of course, I'm going to do it.
Was that exciting, that major change-up of Chloe's personality, or at least her appearance?
It was really exciting to me, because I didn't see it coming. So I thought, "OK, this bodes well, because they're making some bold decisions with my character, being really anti-government," and she's gone through personal tragedy, so her look is reflective of that. Yeah, I'm loving it.
The premiere hints at what has happened to Chloe, but as the season goes on, do we find out more details, more specifics about what has happened to her since the events of the "24" series finale?
Yes, that is all revealed: She and Jack butt heads, and Chloe is really confrontational with him for the first time. I was nervous to put all that out there, but those are the type of moments where… the characters have had this long of an arc, and it's a cool place for them to get to. I don't know how far they will get in their personal relationship, because, as you know, on "24," with the intensity of what's happening, you can't ever have even semi-normal conversations. So I have yet to see if Jack and Chloe will figure their relationship out, but I hope so.
Their relationship has changed, but it feels like the chemistry between them hasn't. Was that immediate for you and Kiefer, too, when you began filming again?
Oh, yeah. It's been a very cool experience for me, because I probably spent the first five years nervous to be around him. Now it's to the point where it's just so familiar to me, and I think that really helps in getting into some of these scenes, whereas it might have been a little bit tougher if it was somebody that I was experiencing for the first time. But certainly, it's a really cool experience when you know somebody for that long, and to know these characters for that long, and to see them evolve.
Chloe has been referred to as Jack's "work wife," which made us laugh, but is also kind of true.
That's hilarious. And yeah, absolutely. People are always like, "Are they going to get together?" It's like, "No, that's his work wife." Not that work wives cannot sleep with their work husbands, but [that's] not going to happen here.
Are you still filming?
We're still filming. I'll be [in London] until June 15, and I've been here since January.
Oh, right before the finale. That's always an extra-intense time in a "24" season.
Oh, you hit the nail on the head, because I read Episode 9, and I emailed [producer] Howard [Gordon] and all the writers and I was like, "Oh my God, I can't even believe what is happening right now!" I'm on the show, and I know, but this is outrageous, so exciting, so over-the-top. All the scripts have been really good, and it's exactly what you just said: the intensity with Jack and that last block of the season, and now it's happening even more quickly in 12 [episodes], so that's just upped the ante on the excitement, and the adrenaline.
Does everything feel amped up with the season being packed into half the number of episodes?
Yes, and I think it definitely serves the story better. I think we need that, because TV's different now. It is faster, and I think for the sake of the writers… I think it was definitely hard for them to sustain the tension for that long, across 24 episodes. But the pacing is there, and, again, it does feel like classic "24."
We see Chloe out in the field a bit, at least in the first couple of episodes. Is that something we're going to see a lot more of in "Live Another Day"?
This is one of those things where I wish I could say, "Yes, absolutely, she's right there with [Jack], and she has a gun," but that's not really the case. I think she's not going to be gun-toting right there with Jack, which is my dream. We see her in the underground hacker's world, and we see her out and about with Jack a bit.
Speaking of the underground hacker world, Chloe is working closely with Adrian Cross, the leader of this hacker group. Is there a little somethin' somethin' going on with them, too? Are they romantically involved?
Yes, actually they are. You'll see it unfold, of course, in "24"-style, in undertones. But yes, Adrian Cross is played by Michael Wincott, and he's the head of this WikiLeaks-type organization. He took Chloe in when she was vulnerable, and they are in a relationship. He's sort of given her life new meaning, opened her eyes to this whole world that she didn't know was there before.
Did you do anything to prepare for relaunching the series? Especially since, again, it is a little more physical for Chloe.
I will say, just in general for my health, and then of course with "24" coming up, my husband is a trainer — he owns a small gym in Woodland Hills, California — so I was very much on a regimen before we started filming. Then as soon as I got to London, it was all eating biscuits non-stop for about the first ten days. I'm like, "Yes, I will have that. Fish and chips? Absolutely." Then after a couple weeks, I got back on my normal, L.A. health kick.
Fans are excited about the return of "24," and it sounds like you and Kiefer and the rest of the cast and crew are excited about it. Given how the experience has gone so far, are you hoping there might be additional seasons, or episodes, or a movie, beyond "Live Another Day"?
I think everybody is really excited, but I would say for me, leading up to it, there's a lot of anxiety and apprehension. They meant to wrap up the whole franchise in these 12 [episodes]. They thought they were going to tell the story of how it all ends with Jack, and then, as they started writing, it became "Live Another Day," not "this is the end." Now that we're up and running, and we're doing this, everything's felt really great so far. It feels like the effort that was put into it, to keep it going — how could you only have 12, you know? It seems kind of crazy now. My instinct is that, of course, we're going to do at least a few more seasons [of 12 episodes each].
We love Jack and Chloe so much, it's tough to let go of them. So maybe next summer, they go to France, or South America, or…
Yes, that would be amazing.
"24: Live Another Day" premieres Monday at 8 p.m. on Fox.