If Kiefer Sutherland wanted to play a role as far away from "24" hero Jack Bauer as possible, he may have found it on the new Fox drama "Touch."
As Martin Bohm, a working class widower struggling to provide for his son, 11-year-old Jake, Sutherland is all desperation and heart where Bauer was fearless and stoic.
"The character was so vastly different, and the tone of the piece was so vastly different, that that was part of [the 'Touch' script's] appeal," Sutherland admits. But pulling a 180 on his resume wasn't the only draw.
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"I had to read it a second time to make sure that all of the things that were affecting me were affecting me on a personal level as opposed to trying to manage a career," he says. "And the second pass had a profound effect on me. Does it happen to also be a nice diversion from '24'? Yes. But I believe, honestly, that the reason that I made the choice was because it spoke to me."
Part of what, well, "touched" the actor was the central relationship between father and son. All of those tender qualities we're not used to seeing the actor portray are heightened when it's revealed that Jake is gifted — he is able to identify the patterns connecting everyone and everything in the world — but he is emotionally challenged, unable speak, and he refuses to let anyone, even his dad, touch him.
"The real driving force for my character is to just simply communicate with his son," Sutherland says. "He wants to have as normal a relationship as he possibly can with his son, which I think every parent can relate to."
As the father of two daughters — and grandfather to two boys — Sutherland says "I don't think anybody has a child and doesn't want the best for that child and doesn't want to be the best they can possibly be for that child. Martin is never going to have the perfect, idyllic relationship with his son," he explains, "and so there is a circumstance, a kind of weight on both characters where they just will never completely win. And that is something that I am drawn to certainly as an actor."
Connecting the world
Jake is able to see the interconnected nature of the world and, with his father's help, makes sure there are no snares in the web that weaves together our lives. It's a premise that gives "Touch" a message of hope."This show ... explains that things happen for a reason," Sutherland says. "Very much like the wildebeest that is stung by a bee in the Serengeti and starts a stampede and creates a dust cloud that rises and carries over two continents and starts a storm in the Gulf, there is a cause and effect to everything. And I think, just on a fantastical level, why I chose to do this show, there's something wonderfully comforting about thinking that everything has a purpose and that there is no small moment."