The 24 Guy’s Had an Interesting Life

Rolling Stone published a long interview with Keifer Sutherland, star of the show 24.

“As a kid he was tossed about some. One minute he’s being born in England, his extravagant dad setting him up in life with the extravagant name of Kiefer William Frederick Dempsey George Rufus Sutherland, the next he’s living in Los Angeles. He’s three. His mom, Canadian actress Shirley Douglas, and his dad aren’t getting along. In fact, his dad is carrying on with Jane Fonda. The marriage dissolves. His mom goes away, leaving Kiefer and his twin sister, Rachel, behind.

It’s during this time that Kiefer evolves his first real memory of his father. His father, the larger-than-life movie star, wears his hair long, wild and tangled, with a great big beard to match. A leather coat occludes his shoulders. He drives his son to preschool in a Ferrari he won in a poker game. His father is “different.” The other parents stare. Kiefer likes how they stare and by his mid-twenties he will dress similarly, drawing similar stares, albeit from within a 1970 beater Porsche 911, not a Ferrari.

After six months, his mother returns and eventually takes him back to Canada. Over the next ten years he attends seven different schools, learning to make friends by making the other kids laugh. He’s insecure, nervous, a compensating cutup but not a great student. In his fifteenth year, he drops out of school, determined to be an actor, despite the usual parental misgivings. Shortly thereafter, he lands the lead in a coming-of-age film, The Bay Boy, and is nominated for a Genie award, Canada’s Oscar. With a $30,000 payday in his pocket, he descends on New York and the actor’s life. A year later, nearly broke, he moves to L.A. and for a few months lives out of his sweet ’67 Mustang.

In 1985, he lands a part in the Steven Spielberg TV show Amazing Stories, and, as he likes to say, “When Steven Spielberg hires you, that’s good for three jobs easy.” And so it was, first as a gang leader in Stand by Me, then as the most raffishly charming vampire ever in The Lost Boys and as a sensitive cowboy in Young Guns.