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HomeTVKiefer Sutherland on How '24' Helped With Shocking Reveal

Kiefer Sutherland on How ’24’ Helped With Shocking Reveal

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the Rabbit Hole Season 1 finale “Ace in the Hole.”]

Unsurprisingly, the Rabbit Hole finale was one reveal after another.

Among the big ones: John’s (Kiefer Sutherland) ex-wife is an operative; his real wife left him after his competitor kidnapped her. He, Ben (Charles Dance), Hailey (Meta Golding), and Homm (Rob Yang) do stop Crowley’s plan. But, as the finale ends, Ben, after killing Crowley, finds a comm in his ear…

Sutherland does a deep dive on John at the end of the season.

The first season was so good, and I need to see more with these characters.

Kiefer Sutherland: Thank you so much. John [Requa] and Glenn [Ficarra] certainly did an amazing job with developing all of those characters, and they are so rich. It’s so funny, if I run into someone on the street, the first thing that they seem to talk about is, “Oh my gosh, I didn’t see this coming” or “that surprised me.”

But the thing that made me really gravitate towards the story and the idea were that all of these characters were deeply flawed at the beginning of the show, and as the circumstances get worse, they become better people. I found that kind of amazing. We’ve seen that certainly in our history, and I thought that they tapped into that really well. Certainly with regards to John Weir, when all of the things that he normally relies on — not trusting anybody, being isolated and alone, knowing that he could then be in control — when he starts to lose his control, when he has to start to rely on other people and he has to start trusting people, he actually inherently becomes a much better person. I think that’s one of the reasons that I was so interested in playing him, was that he really evolved during the course of even one season.

We see that in the finale, which shows just how much John was up to that the audience had no idea about. The reveal about his ex-wife!

Yeah, and that’s one of the things, for instance, that was never clear. We had the first four episodes before we started shooting, and I certainly knew enough that the woman who was pretending to be my wife, I knew that she wasn’t. I knew that she was an operator, but I didn’t know the rest of it. [Laughs] And so that was one of those kind of moments when you go, “Oh, OK, well, let me digest that for a moment.” I had at least learned as an actor enough on 24 to give yourself room to move left or right, so that the writers had room to write, and that served me well in that moment because that surprised me as well.

Is there more that he was up to that we as viewers didn’t see? The end of the finale sets up a potential Season 2, and I feel like more could be revealed.

I think more can be, and I think you’re going to find that Ben’s potentially been up to a little more than he’d been upfront about as well. And so I think what’s really important, going back to the character thing and the evolution of these characters as they went from A to B, let’s say, is that John has been fundamentally changed by this experience. I think his relationship with Hailey is honest and earnest. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t things that had been done before that might need to be dealt with or covered up or managed. But I think inherently he is a person who’s going to approach stuff from a very different way.

Marni Grossman/Paramount+

Having said that, there’s a lot of possibility that his father is a creature of habit and is going to always manipulate situations and that might become a conflict down the road. John and Glenn have left a lot of options on the table for themselves as writers to move in a variety of directions. But I think that the real change for a Season 2 would be that John and Hailey’s dynamic is real and that’s something that an audience can actually really hold onto. And I think that’s important over time.

Something I liked was how much the finale recalls what we saw John doing at the beginning of the series — controlling the narrative and playing on what’s real, what’s true, what’s not, what he’s manipulating. But can he go back to that life that he had at the beginning?

I don’t think so, no. I think he’s fundamentally changed. I think his relationship with Hailey fundamentally changed him. I think his fear of not knowing if everything was going to work out… He lost his team, and he lost his team because his father didn’t do what he said he was going to do. So, there’s a lot of trust issues that will still be with that character, but how he trusts has been fundamentally changed because the dynamic between he and Hailey, I think, is very honest and real and has therefore changed his kind of life.

So no, he’s never going to end up with that office on Wall Street and running corporate espionage games again. I think it’s going to be much more kind of fluid as circumstances kind of arise as opposed to a business.

Speaking of his relationship with his father, to say it’s complicated is an understatement. But it also seems like he might have moved pieces into place so that Ben could be the one to confront Crowley something as father needed to do, which is kind of a twisted but fitting gift. How would you say their relationship is at the end of the season?

You’re going to have to go back to the fact that his whole team was wiped out because Ben screwed up. It’s not that that’s not possible to be forgiven, it’s just not going to ever be forgotten, so that’s a factor. And then John does say to his father, “You’re welcome. I’ve given you what you wanted all your life.” I think there’s an understanding certainly at the end of the season that it didn’t go as well as hoped, but this was something that had to happen, this was something that needed to be dealt with, and there’s an understanding between both of them why they are the way they are. But it doesn’t mean that things will be forgotten.

The father-son relationship, even in the best of all worlds, is complicated and it’s hard, so in any dynamic, in any relationship, unless the father just kind of gracefully says, “OK, you’re taking over,” there’s going to be a power struggle there. [Laughs] I’ve watched enough lion documentaries to see it in the rawest form that Mother Nature has to offer. And then I’ve seen it in almost every father-son relationship that I’ve known my whole life, whether it be friends of mine who are fathers or as sons, that one’s just always going to be a struggle. Ben and John are as competitive with each other and against each other as any father-son relationship that I’ve ever seen.

Meta Golding and Kiefer Sutherland in 'Rabbit Hole'

Marni Grossman/Paramount+

Something that struck me is what you said about John and Hailey and the words “honest” and real” because I still don’t trust her.

[Laughs] Good for you. For me as an actor, when I was playing John, I committed to the fact that I did. It doesn’t mean that I don’t find out somewhere down the line that I was wrong, but I think in playing that character, I had to make a choice and I felt that he really did fall for her in a way that was really honest and genuine and that he does in fact trust her and believe her. That might be his great Achilles heel and we’ll see, but from the character’s point of view and from my point of view as the person playing him, you had to go one way or another. And I just felt very strongly about those last few scenes and the kind of level of intimacy that had been created that that was not something that John Weir, in the vulnerable place he was at, was going to fake.

I’m not saying in the story that they’re going to be fine. I’m just saying from my character’s point of view, he’s in 100 percent with her. And that might come back and bite him. [Laughs] What’s really funny is we let our guards down for things we want, not things we know, right? He wants that relationship to work. He’s fallen in love with someone. The last person in the world he should have and wanted to fall in love with, he did. But there it is, it’s happened. So when someone wants something bad enough, they tell themselves the narrative they want to hear, and he’s no different and we’ll see what that does to him.

One of the most interesting dynamics the entire season was John and Madi’s (Enid Graham). To make his plan work, he had to trust at least a bit, and she’s a fed! Why did he?

Because I think in the very beginning, even when he talks about her and he makes fun of her, he does believe she’s straight and she’s honest and she’s a good cop — if there is in fact a good thing in his world as a good cop. I liken it to the relationship — do you remember the Looney Tunes cartoon where Wile E. Coyote and this big sheepdog and their checking in in the morning and they stamp their time clock and it’s like, “Good morning, Ralph,” “Good morning, Sam,” and then the sheep dog just beats the s**t out of him all day long? And then at night they check out and it’s like, “Goodnight, Sam,” “Goodnight, Ralph.” That’s the relationship. That’s their thing. The truth is, I think they really like each other, that this is the dynamic and it will always be the dynamic.

So I think to her great amusement, she will try and go after him again, and to his great amusement, he will try and get away from her again. It’s just one of those kind of great classic archetypes where they could be hunting each other for, let’s just say, in absolute imagination, 10 seasons down the line. They’re still hunting down each other, but she’ll also be the one to save him and he’ll also be the one to save her because it has to stay within the guidelines of what they think is their game. And I think that’s born out of a mutual respect for each other.

It seems like now is the time that John is really going to be able to process Miles’ death because he knows everything that led to that moment. Is he ready to do that because he’s opened himself to others?

No, I think it’s the one thing that’s dangerously capable of pulling him backwards because his friend basically killed himself to make sure that John would be safe. I don’t know how you get over that kind of sacrifice without having discussed it, without having agreed to something like that. So I think that’s something he’ll walk away from that will be a terrible, terrible wound, and especially given that it’s the one person that helped him navigate some of the emotional disorders that he suffers from and the mental health issues that he suffers from. That’s going to be the thing that haunts him forever.

All those flashbacks were so good to show their relationship.

Yeah, and normally, I’m not a huge fan of flashbacks and I’m not a huge fan of extensive voiceovers, but I think John and Glenn made it such a part of the telling of this story. It wasn’t just at the beginning to launch something, it was something that kind of carried on throughout, and it was a real style point that I was very impressed with what they did with that as well.

Rabbit Hole, Season 1, Streaming Now, Paramount+

This story originally appeared on TV Insider

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