"Having done 10 years in television before on a show called '24,' which is the greatest experience of my lifetime, I saw how easy it was to paint yourself in a corner with regards to story," Sutherland said on 'GMA' today.
"David Guggenheim, who wrote this 'Designated Survivor,' tells three beautiful story lines at the same time," he continued. "One is a family drama, which what happens to a family if, overnight, they move into the White House and the restraints of that for their children ... and then, ultimately, the thrilling aspect of the show, which is the investigation into the attack and what is the appropriate response?"
In 2009, Penn took a break from the big and small screens to join the Obama administration as an associate director in the White House Office of Public Engagement.
"Kal Penn, obviously very successful actor, got involved with President Obama's campaign," Sutherland said. "The two of them became friendly and Kal is an incredibly smart guy. [He] was asked to leave acting for two years to come work at the White House and became a speech writer and a confidant of President Obama's."
"I had a really interesting experience growing up," he said. "My parents -- my mother's an actress, my father's an actor -- never really talked to me about work. When I started working, they let me find my way and my daughter has earned that as well. And so, when we get to spend time together we talk about family."
"Designated Survivor" premieres tonight, right here on ABC.