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Sean Daly, Michelle Stark and Sharon Kennedy Wynne

First peek at '24' movie, new villain

15

July

Jonvoight BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- Jon Voight had a very specific person in mind as inspiration for the smooth, sarcastic corporate villain he will play in next season’s edition of Fox’s high-octane spy series 24.
And he’s not about to tell me who it is.

“You want me to give up all my secrets,” said Voight, corralled by a small throng of reporters here at the Beverly Hilton Hotel during an informal session to tout the show’s return. “I looked for a model that I could enjoy…that made me smile. I finally decided he’s a witty fellow, sarcastic perhaps. He’s intimidating because he plays it light, but he’s got a sharp barb – his tongue can hurt you. He’s got a sense of humor, but boy, he’s dangerous.”

Voight said producers approached him to join the show, playing business leader Jonas Hodges (and no, he’s not based on Donald Trump).

“24 is exceptional stuff – so you’re safe,” he said, speaking on the growing number of film stars dabbling in TV work. “You know you’re going to be doing interesting things that are going to have some substance, and they can accomplish them…These days, it’s not a surprise to see a film actor show up on a TV set. That started with Friends – everybody did Friends. Brad did Friends, everybody dropped by. It’s just going where the stuff is good.”

Critics also responded well to clips from the two-hour 24 movie producers assembled when it became clear that the Hollywood writers’ strike would scuttle plans to air the series this year. Taking place in real time just like the series, 24: Exile places Kiefer Sutherland’s superspy Jack Bauer in Africa -– a storyline they could never work out in the regular series, because it would take too long to get their hero from Africa to the U.S., given the requirement that every minute onscreen must progress in real time.

“Our first two hours were supposed to be in Africa…but realistically, when I left my house to go to Africa, the trip took 36 hours, so that was a problem,” said 24 director Jon Cassar. “After we wrote it, it really started to feel like the opening of a James Bond – sexy, different cool…We ended up with a storyline that didn’t have Jack in it. But we thought, ‘Do you really want to to go to African and no show Jack Bauer?’ So this is the best of both worlds.”

The brief glimpses critics got made Bauer look a bit like Rambo, vaulting over huts in an African village, enduring a hot machete pressed to the side of his face – there’s that torture thing again! – and challenging a child soldier leveling a rifle at him. Jack also faces an investigation over his use of torture – the show’s one nod to the criticism that they too often show violent torture working on screen when it doesn’t in real life.

“We know that a true interrogation would work if you took the three days it would take (to use non-violence),” said Cassar. “We have two minutes. It’s part of a storytelling device for us – not one we’re proud of, but one nonetheless.”

And don’t bother asking Voight how his scenes look in the new show (or about the twins his semi-estranged daughter Agelina Jolie just had; he's not talking about her to poreserve their relationship). He hasn’t seen them.

“When I did Midnight Cowboy, they didn’t want me to know how good I was, so they kept me away from any of the work, because it was the first film I’d done,” said the actor, who was nominated for a Best Acting Oscar from the 1969 film. “And that turned out pretty well – I’m hard on myself. So it’s probably best I stay away from watching stuff.”

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:49pm]

    

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