Kiefer Sutherland will be back to play Jack Bauer for an eighth season of the hit drama 24, but the show’s longevity will depend on its writers, the actor said yesterday.

The 42-year-old told The Associated Press that 24, currently in its seventh season, will start shooting its eighth in May. He spoke during an interview in Hong Kong to promote the new 3-D animated movie Monsters vs. Aliens, in which he voices the character of General W.R. Monger.

Sutherland, whose portrayal of the counterterrorism agent has made Bauer an iconic character, said he’s committed to the show that’s revived his career.

“If I was going to liken 24 to a girlfriend, 24 has been really good to me. And I need to be really good back,” Sutherland said.

“There are plays I want to do. There are so many different things I would like to do, but I was so fortunate to be part of something like 24 that my focus is still on that right now,” he said.

Sutherland said the show’s future also hinges on its writers’ ability to shape its story.

“The real pressure is placed on the writers. It’s a real question about how much they feel they can give and what they can do,” he said.

Sutherland, whose movie credits include Young Guns and A Few Good Men, said he hasn’t thought much about his career after 24 and isn’t worried about being typecast as a Bauer-like government agent.

“I will do the work I want to do and people can accept it or not,” he said.

Working as a voice actor on Monsters vs. Aliens, which opens Friday, was a fantastic counterbalance to playing Bauer, he said.

“The relief was unbelievable. For five days a week, 14 hours a day, I’m doing Jack Bauer on 24 and then for five hours on the weekend, I got to kind of proverbially let my hair down and play this character and talk like that and be a kid. I felt like a five-year-old,” said Sutherland, simulating the deep, raspy voice of his character.