Kiefer Sutherland wants you to know that Touch, his affecting new Fox drama from Tim Kring, isn't anything like 24. However, the actor and producer does admit that his character, Martin Bohm, does have a little Jack Bauer in him at his core.
"I identified with him out of the gate," said Sutherland. "There was something interesting, because obviously this is very different than 24. Yet there is a real similar through line in the character of the man. Jack Bauer would be faced with unbelievable circumstances in the course of a day, and he would never win completely. ... And this guy is never going to win either. He's never going to have the quintessential relationship of a father and a son."
In Touch, Martin learns that his son, Jake (David Mazouz), is not profoundly autistic as suspected. Instead he's a very gifted boy who sees the connections in everything that no one else can. Martin's job becomes figuring out a way to understand what Jake is trying to tell him, and it's a path that will take him on an emotional and spiritual journey that will allow him to change things for the better as he begins to see the hidden patterns that connect every life on the planet. Fox is airing a special sneak peek of Touch tonight at 9 p.m. ET. The series premieres on Monday, March 19, at 9 p.m.
When it comes to Martin, Sutherland believes that despite his character's challenges, "he perseveres, and that's a great kind of character statement. And so I identified with him greatly on that, and I think as a parent as well, just the sense of responsibility combined with not knowing what to do all the time. Even though this is, again, a heightened experience, I think every parent feels that. I certainly can speak for myself and say that I have during Camelia's pregnancy when Sara was—for nine months I'd have these great fantasies of how I was going to be the greatest dad on the planet. And then she was born and a kind of fear came over me like none other that I've ever had in my life. I was confronted with the fact that I really didn't know what I was doing and it was something that I was going to have to figure out as I went," he said. "And I really relate to Martin on that level, and just the dynamic between the father and the son I just find so extraordinary."
As for the material, Sutherland hopes viewers will find themselves drawn in despite the lack of explosive action that they would have found on that other little series he used to work on.
"For me personally, I feel that there is a great deal of suspense within the context of the show, even in the not knowing what the numbers are and the narrative where the audience actually knows more than the lead character. So I think that even though we're not blowing things up, I think that there is enough excitement around the drama of this show that people will not be that thrown by it who enjoyed 24."
As for 24 and his iconic role as Jack Bauer, "I had an unbelievable experience on 24. We shot 198 episodes, and I was as excited about shooting the 198th as I was the first," said Sutherland.
"It certainly is a daunting thing having 24 been not only the great experience on a personal level for me, but it was an incredible success. It's nice to have that in your pocket and let it be. But this was certainly something I just couldn't say no to. So I think it's been a little longer than two years, but it feels a lot shorter than that now, I have to say," he said.
Touch comes from Tim Kring, who created Heroes. "I think one of the things that's so attractive about this piece is really Tim Kring's writing and character development," he said.
"The show is a procedural show. Unlike 24 and unlike Heroes, which was a serialized show. These episodes will have a beginning, a middle and an end. But it does not preclude a character who you've seen in one episode being able to come back five episodes down the line, and we have in fact done that. I don't really want to say who. For the people that are going to watch it, I would like them to see that," said Sutherland.
"There also might be characters that are way in the background on an episode that will come to the forefront in another episode. But it doesn't stop each individual episode from being its own complete little entity. And so that's something I think Tim Kring has done a beautiful job kind of weaving in and out," he added.
That 'weaving in and out' takes Martin on a journey, "very much like the Chinese fable that the story is based on, which was called 'The Red Thread.' And the red thread is basically a red thread that is loosely looped around the ankles of all the people that are supposed to come in contact with each other over the course of a lifetime. This thread can stretch and it can bend, but it cannot break, and somehow in our society we have broken this, and my son is taking me on a journey to try and put the thread back together."
As for Sutherland, "I do believe that there is a cause and effect and a ripple effect upon everything everybody does and they have positive consequences and negative consequences. If you start to focus on the kind of minutiae of that, it's really quite extraordinary, or 'should I get on the elevator now or should I wait,' and obviously we can't live our lives like that. But I do believe very strongly that all of us and all of the other things in the context of our planet with Mother Nature, all of these things absolutely have a profound effect. Some of the effects that can be felt are small and some of them are very large, and it was really interesting to do a show that focused on that," he said.
Here's a look at Touch with Sutherland and Danny Glover, who plays Arthur DeWitt:
Are you ready to be Touched by this new Kiefer Sutherland/Tim Kring drama?