Subject: Kiefer Sutherland, 43-year old Canadian actor
Date of Assessment: September 3, 2010
Positive Buzzwords: Humility, longevity, that voice
Negative Buzzwords: DUI, Marmaduke
The Case: So, how about that Brat Pack? Well, most of them (with the exception of the reprehensible, non-repentant Charlie Sheen and his trusty sidekick, Jon Cryer) have long since faded into oblivion. And then there’s Kiefer Sutherland, whose status as an ancillary member may have been the key to escaping the curse that has plagued the formerly coveted group of actors. Nah, just kidding. As an performer, Kiefer’s got actual talent, which he admittedly may have inherited from his father, Donald Sutherland; but Kiefer’s never displayed any sense of entitlement and has fully earned his rightful place as an actor. In fact, Kiefer was so determined not to ride upon his surname that, way back when he first arrived in Hollywood, the guy lived in his car and used public beach showers for three months. Nowadays, a sense of modesty still surrounds Kiefer, who has publicly proclaimed that he’s rather uncomfortable with the huge salary that he received for an eight-season stint as Counter Terrorist Unit Agent Jack Bauer in “24.” However, I do believe that the main draw for a television show should always be compensated relative to the amount of advertising dollars that the show earns, which has gotta be a drop in the bucket compared to what the execs put in their pockets.
As you’re probably well aware, Kiefer’s a pirate and likes to downplay his star status by doing odd things like wearing a dress on Letterman, but he’s quite the intense variety of actor. His breakout role arrived with Stand By Me, and audiences soon recognized a most valuable asset in an unmistakably recognizable yet highly diverse set of vocal chords. That voice can be seductive as hell (The Lost Boys); creepy as hell [Phone Booth); or just flat out awesome (Young Guns, A Time To Kill, L.A. Confidential (the tv version), The Sentinel, Bright Lights, Big City, Flatliners, and Truth or Consequences, N.M.]. Indeed, I’ll even admit to possessing a soft spot for The Cowboy Way simply because Kiefer’s gruffness nicely counteracted the goofiness of Woody Harrelson’s character.
However, that voice can backfire at times when used in an improper context, such as the candy-ass Dr. Schreber’s introductory monologue within Dark CIty (as if to prove my point, Alex Proyas removed the speech from his recently-issued Director’s Cut). Less offensive but slightly worrisome is Kiefer’s use of that voice for throwaway characters in kiddie flicks like Marmaduke and Monsters vs. Aliens, but his participation in this sort of nonsense is better than not hearing that voice at all.
Despite Kiefer’s down-to-earth persona, his personal life sometimes lands him in the tabloids. In the early 1990s, a broken engagement to Julia “Eat, Pray, Whine” Roberts prompted Kiefer to back away from Hollywood for a short time, and he also took a breather before “24” launched him into a major career resurrection. In the midst of all this, Kiefer’s exploits have indicated a fairly prominent alcohol issue — as evidenced with pantless pub crawls, occasional bar brawls, and a couple of DUIs now under his belt. In 2008, he entered a plea of nolo contendere for the second DUI charge and received a 48-day jail sentence. Unlike certain starlets (as well a certain exiled director) — who certainly could have minimized the effects of their criminal activities upon their careers by accepting punishment — Kiefer did not pull a drama queen act or run to the press with complaints about how unfair life is for famous people. Instead, Kiefer quietly served his entire jail sentence and, even though he dropped the soap, he exited in great spirits with a seemingly renewed focus. While Kiefer continues his love affair with the bottle, there have never been reports of this guy showing up to the set late or altogether skipping work. Even more importantly, Kiefer appears to have put an end to the reprehensible practice of getting behind the wheel after a few drinks. The rest of Hollywood could learn a few lessons from his humility, and then some.
Prognosis: After the grueling work schedule of “24” (12-hour days, 5 days per week, sometimes weekends too), I’m sensing that Kiefer will be tempted to take another break from Hollywood. Still, he’s currently working on the latest Lars Von Trier (please, no CGI foxes) piece of madness, so I could be wrong. Let’s just hope this movie fares better than MIrrors did in helping him stray from the Jack Bauer persona before that inevitable television-to-big-screen feature film arrives in theaters.
Agent Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She and her little black heart can be found at agentbedhead.com.