Kiefer Sutherland talks new season of 'Designated Survivor'

Sutherland appears on "Popcorn With Peter Travers" and talks about the making of hited survivor, actor, film, movie, series, political drama, television, appearance, popcorns political drama series.
19:40 | 06/21/19

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Transcript for Kiefer Sutherland talks new season of 'Designated Survivor'
You're out supporting your album going out on the road and being a musician as you always wore a button actually doing. So you've got to of these careers. House schizophrenic area. I'm not schizophrenic I think maybe maybe a little tired at times. But after Shea you know. I was trying to find the common denominator to explain to people that it's not such a large step to do both and and the truth is what I've always loved about acting. And designated survivors a perfect example getting together with a cast and a director and writers and figuring out what's the best way to tell this story. Music for me is the same thing I'll write a song taken to the ban what's the best way to play this what's the best way to. Kind of tell this story to an audience and so. In many regards even though. The facilities that are required. To tell the stories are very different. The motivation from one's heart is is very similar and so. We were thrilled to to get. An opportunity with Netflix and you're the third season designated survivor. And what I find so interest thing about this season is that. For the first who seizes. You know he was an unwilling participant. As president of the United States and terrible circumstance. Put him and that is an end and a president yeah and so we we. We kind of examined what a life in politics and that kind of power of the presidency will that corrupt and they will that take a good man and make combat just in. Why would buy what the office it is. Now he's actually seeking reelection and as far as I'm concerned that puts one strike against you because you're going after that kind of power. You fulfill your responsibilities the designated supplier for two years and now you're choosing to stay in. So that to mean means that. There is a chink in the that there is. That he's going after power and and killed anybody knows as you and I do. That campaigning is where the real. Dirty tricks are done and where people make those moral concessions. That. If I abandoned my moral compass at this moment is going to be all right because when I am president I'll make up for it. It doesn't work that way I think once you abandoned your moral compass you abandon it and so we'll she how he's gonna get through it but that's what I'm really excited about this story season. Well you're talking about morality that goes on in. Your president on the outcome occurred when. With 24 you didn't have to worry about so much so it's more than a gray area well we'd know what's happening we'll that was it in fact that was the keys to 24. Was that. Jack Bauer. Write a role Newton. Believed he was doing the right thing. And when you're confronted with decisions like sacrificing for people in the effort to save a hundred. Those are possible decisions today and decisions that you were I would never want to. The whole show was really centered around that gray area and what would he do and two things would happen I think from an audience perspective. Thank god I'm not the person having to make that decision and I either agree with granola. And the and the thing that I thought I was so interest in with the writing of 24. Was that we we made him make mistakes obviously on purpose. And and that and he wore those mistakes with great pain. And I think that that was something. That people really. Empathize. With rumors that search is so where this show is is is very different similar situation where you take your man and put him in an unwinnable situation. How is he and restful. This character has crucible in. In the black and white world. Being either correct or incorrect. And we'll suffer at the root of that and so that's really what this third season is is kind of testing is his mettle if you will we always feed. That there's some kind of sub government to you know hundred and that swat. Your president Kirk men is dealing left of the U we have people all around them that wanna mad that there. Yes absolutely and and then the people along their one on their for their own personal reasons not because of any kind of mandate. That he's trying to push or or polish. So yes it's. Again and this is politics around the world this is not unique to America yeah but the acquisition of power. Almost inherently and gives you strike against at least in my mind that that that effort to do that. And so that's that's what we look at. Does it meet you by playing this ever. Think of the fact that you would like to seek public office I absolutely would know. Painful but right back. But I clear but I do. But I do come from I have an interest in. Family. And my grandfather was premier Cisco natural in. For seventeen years and Federer leader of the opposition for another twenty. He was responsible for creating health care it's a schedule and would ultimately. Became a federal program and Canada. He was elected on four year mandate to fix the roads this is Quechua and put electricity all the way up to than most northern to own schools and health care and he managed to do all of that and balance the budget. Within a four year term did anybody else than your family ever consider. A political career. I think because we're grandfather. Was so profoundly. Successful. And recently was voted the greatest Canadian but I think. You know my mother and father were both very strong political activists the but I don't think that they personally at any given moment. For so little career career they they did something that they loved as well. So no I certainly have not and I have a twin sisters she did not either. If you're not. Ultimately oh it's just not in the bay through Whitewater. It. So aren't you are playing this president. And now I'm going on tour. Which you've done before but as a musician. And this song on. That album reckless and is it eighth weekly. This one about finding something you love him you something. That you do have you continue to love what you were doing absolutely act still means that. To me it means everything you go this is the it's important in its. The excitement that I'll feel at the beginning of a project. Discussing. How to tell this story with the other Acton and a director and the crew and how we're gonna make this. One of the great experiences that I had on 24 was a relationship that I had with a hand held camera operator. He and I were dance partners. After eight years he was had the most difficult times saying goodbye. And we. You know and he certainly is a camera operator really challenged convention. With the way he did that stuff so. Yes it's it's him it's a team sport and it's really exciting. Thing when you feel you've got to greet me. And music is the same way. Again the stories are more fertile collect it in with person. You know something you love was actually Jude Cole and they both records with incredible artist credible musician. An incredible songwriter and this was a song that I think he was working on. For an EP and he had the chorus. And he wasn't very happy with the verses and so I worked on the verses with a and I said I love this chorus so much. I would love to do this song and I was so grateful that he agreed. But it really is a plea. Two people and I've seen way to really people over the course of life. Either friends of mine or from a distance that have worked their lives to the bone. Take care of their families to support some of their friends. And and they've done really. Very little if nothing for themselves. And it's a plea to those people that. The only thing you really guarantees this one's life. And please funds and have yourself to do something. That you love and it can be as simple in recent in the solemn. You know dive in the river with enough and on dance all night dance to that choosing to be as simple as that. Or take a passion are a hobby. And take it more seriously for yourself and and so. That's what this alone is. And was grateful to those issues. Yesterday were caught within and that we don't use of for the it's one thing too bright from. And it's another one to get up there and perform. And that that's been that's been. The thing I've fallen in love with the most in the most exciting and I love making records. But to be able to stand up in front of a few hundred people and say this is where I was when I wrote the song this is what I was going through May be gone through something similar. A really great show to me is where and whatever preconceived notion that the audience might have about me whatever perky perceived notion I might have about them. Halfway through the show that goes away and you realize. That we've all got a lot more common than we thought that's a really special place to be when you actually really feel that from an audience. And from your brain. I I don't have the words to really express. How free. This has music and its been there's something about. Expressing yourself used it well and and this is OK so that's a fantastic point because. Obviously the story telling is a common denominator but there's some incredibly vastly different experiences. You know and I often laughed when I think. That championship season which was a play that I got to do on Broadway for almost a year. You know that there's real specific rules with theater in response to go win. Take your seat. We're gonna ask you to be quiet what we do the play and at the end of the play if you feel inclined please show your appreciation. Its exact opposite with music we want you out of your sheep from the downbeat we want you moving we want you engage we will. You know we want you will last. And so it's again. The dynamic of what you're trying to accomplish. With telling that story is almost offices hundred degrees. And these are personal fox yes so Urich is if you're playing Jack Bauer or your playing time Kirk man. You're expressing who that characters is person yes in my perception of what that person might be and so. Be very frank I'm on my best day. I'm not Jack Bauer you know I don't have that settles there and at that point I'm not that god can. So as an actor there's always been a character. That has been between me and an audience Eden. As a musician. I'm telling you are very personal story from my own life something that I probably protected for thirty years. Analysts and I'm telling. 600 strangers. That took committed to be used. And and most of the places we were playing in were pretty tough bars in the beginning and then we played a show about five years ago in Ann Arbor, Michigan. And it was a very small theater we thousand people. But everybody was seated. And for whatever reason. And probably doing a lot of stage work as an actor. I felt more comfortable about talking in between songs. We're again Jews. Talk about the first one. That meant a lot of news that I wrote a song. Cultures in your eyes about losing someone that I had really love very much. Who died way too early in her life and it was. And that crowd's reaction. Was so incredibly generous. And from my perception at least incredibly honest. And I later met the woman later that night who had lost her husband five years ago and says she really related to the story. And she's been having a real hard time with it still but for a moment she didn't feel alone and that was a really powerful thing for me and so from that moment forward. And some of the stores are forming their models had. But sort of accommodation in the music in the storytelling. And sorted to really make the show's special. For me and and I hope for an audience. But so far that's the way it's Google. Would you mind answering a couple of questions from the world I won't be threw it out there I would you feel what ever is out there. What has been the most emotion league's reigning character you have ever culturally here and I can't remember the character's name there was a film I did with Sally Field. Called. I for a non. And I played the most despicable person. On the planet and I had murdered her daughter. The character have you back and ultimately she she is secured comes after me and and we have a dual. But this was just a horrific man and and and in order to make the story work he had to be. You have to remember at the time little doing this I've got two daughters the age of tendon and and three. And here I am I had to rate two women who murdered two women. And I'll never forget one of the young people that I had to have one of those scenes with the the physicality. Was brutal. And we had gone over and over I said look I'm throw you down here. You're gonna put you handling that on the Danone could weigh on them touch you here and here. When we choreographed everything and she was about 22 years old but she looked very. And I said look when I go to choose. It's not going to be as quiet as this rehearsal it's going to be a lot sort want you to be prepared as she says I promise you I promise you gotta thank you we're gonna before. We did this scene in the al-Qaeda and she's she's broke down in tears. And I remember picking her up. Walking off the stage. And we just sat somewhere. And I was hating on her actions those stories and know we've gone through everything on the story and that it. It was just a brutal character and any of it cost a lot to do that. And subsequently. People hated me in that movie and I think. They hated that character. You know and as an actor and fortunately there are moments to tell a larger story you end up playing characters like that but that was definitely the hardest. Are right let's do one more. I'll get do you eucharist Jack Bauer and he's never gone on to our. Now China any of his he's. Well to be honest with you I've never I never watched 24. Even mountains so I mean I'm aid one of the first arose I ever got to make was a film called stand by me. And I watched it with my girlfriend at the time and a cast and crew screening. An absolutely panicked did not. Like what I did and it. I had very specific ideas of what I wanted to do with character and when I watched it all I saw was me. And so I remember telling her. I've got to find a job before this comes out she's and I thought it was really good I think it says something terribly don't patronize me I'm kinda job. Percent of the film comes out is the biggest hit of the summer. Every person that I had ever talk to everything I wanted to do is an actor they told me I did for that. And I realized. Okay the problems with me and when I see my own face. I can't get past that and so I just kinda made a rule at that point. That I was gonna do the work and can't work from my heart in my head and then it's done there's nothing I can do about it anyways after that point. And and let it be and so I made a real rule unless there was a big technical problem. To try and not watch the shows and so 24. Was not something lawless who in all. And I never went back to you watch it doesn't matter if I'm really I have really wants UK Rea. All right well we always end in a little bit of music a little bit of song felt that we have a guitar you might play a couple of courts even though you know how I want. A few lines if you mere X. Our Hamas issues here from something you love. Well yeah. Boom boom boom. I think it. I don't have a cable so I can't do that. This. That road. Saluted me. I can't play this Qatar this far at a June oh that would be a problem right there and then there were. Yeah candy can't be. That move. Food to me. You have low. And I house. News yeah. Yeah. Loads. He's gone. No voters. They were yeah cheers. Little early for certain information out of him these aren't have to be any time if you're musician code that does and thank you so much pleasure. It's a pleasure pass and always such an article does it.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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