When fans of 24 heard Chuck and Dexter star Yvonne Strahovski was cast as rogue CIA Agent Kate Morgan in the new season, they couldn’t have been more ecstatic. Dubbed as the female version of Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), since the premiere, Strahovski’s character has become extremely popular. And this week, ‘Team Bauer-Morgan’ is set to hit our screens as they work together to find the Al-Harazis.
Though still filming in London, Strahovski took the time to chat with journalists about her new role.
I think it’s safe to say Kate Morgan is dealing with a lot of demons, especially trying to make up for the fact that her husband was covertly selling government secrets to the highest bidder. This is one of the things that drew Strahovski to the role and gave her a starting point on which to build the character. “We meet Kate at the lowest point in her life. She doesn’t have it all together, she’s been fired from her job, which means she has professional problems going on as well as personal problems.”
Strahovski further explains that Morgan’s motives at this point are to make up for what her husband has done, and the fact she’d played a part in it, though unknowingly. It’s also a second chance for redemption.
First it was finding Jack Bauer, now it’ll be to help him find the terrorists. “Now she’s on a roll trying to prove it to herself and others around her.” Strahovski believes in trusting your instincts. Having said this, she feels that because of what happened with her husband, Kate has forgotten to use them. Although some see her as making drastic decisions, Strahovski looks at it as Kate going with her gut instinct. She reports that the audience will learn more about her shady husband’s background, and what happened, in upcoming episodes.
It’s no surprise that Kate Morgan is considered to be the female version of Jack Bauer. Does Strahovski feel this hindered or enhanced the way she approached the character? Actually, seeing the similarities early on between the two characters was important to recognize as an actress. Though she adds her own flare, Strahovski has taken a lot of inspiration from Sutherland. “Definitely I take inspiration from Kiefer and I continue to, as I see him work. He just really dives into this quite effortlessly. I mean he’s been doing this for so long, and he has so much to contribute to the series, just not as Jack Bauer, he really is mentally immersed in part of the machinery that is the show from all different aspects.”
Asked how she matches Sutherland’s intensity, Strahvoski doesn’t think of it that way, more like what would Kate do. For her, it’s important to be as prepared as she possibly can be for each scene, ie: knowing the script, the scenes, what’s going on in each scene and being ready for anything that might change. She explains the pace of filming is extremely fast, especially when director Jon Cesar and Sutherland on set. “It works very fast, which I like. That’s the energy of the show and I feel prepared for those days when you do work that fast.”
Another aspect of the role that piqued her interest is the fact that producers allowed her to make Kate look real versus a cookie-cutter version of Hollywood’s usual depiction. For Strahovski it’s been rewarding not to have to focus on the character’s looks and was adamant she didn’t want Kate Morgan to be glammed up in any way; wearing minimum amounts of makeup, as well as very realistic clothing. This allowed her the freedom to concentrate on her acting and the mechanics of each scene. “It’s nice to just focus on scene work, something that has so much intensity in it. All of that drew me to this role.”
Since Kate is not only riddled with emotional issues, but is also very physical, which does she prefer to do? Strahovski admits she enjoys the emotional aspects of acting versus the physical, specifically the exploration of human behavior, the reason people do the things they do. However she quickly adds, “That’s not to say I don’t like the physical stuff too, because I like it as well.”
Of course she is well aware that because she played a CIA Agent in Chuck, fans might consider this role similar. This is definitely not the case. Strahovski makes it clear that her role on 24 is very different from Chuck. “With Chuck, because it was a comedy based show, it was more cartoonish if you like. It was more playful, had a lot more fun with it, had a lot of silliness with it, more heart. But it’s baseline was comedy which is the complete opposite here. We don’t really see a lot of comedic moments in 24. I haven’t seen all of it, but from what I have seen, I don’t think I’ve ever laughed at anything anyone is doing on 24.”
Strahovski describes of the two, Dexter was definitely filmed more like 24, but playing a serial killer vs CIA Agent felt completely different. “Dexter is most like 24. But it still sort of felt like, because of the character I was playing, it was far removed from my personal self. Someone who is capable of taking another person’s life.” She adds her character on 24 feels more real.
Although she initially had trepidation about playing another CIA Agent, she quickly learned she had nothing to worry about in this regard. “I realized the vehicle of 24 is such a different show and not really something I’ve been a part of before. It’s so unique in its own right, which is why it’s such a popular and widely known television show.”
If you’re a fan of Strahovski, then you’ve heard her say, “if it scares you, you should do it.” So what about 24 scares her? “The raw quality the show. Most things I’ve done have been quite stylized, or just a little more tv-esq, and a little more heightened perhaps. Even though the circumstances on 24 are heightened, I believe the style and performance you have to bring as an actor is not heightened on 24 and that’s the challenging part I like.” Not only is the acting style much more challenging, the style in which the show is filmed also differs. The show is filmed with two cameras, always moving which Strahovski says really allows the actor be totally present. “You can’t really lie in front of these cameras. They are really with you in the moment and linger. That’s what I like about the show. It’s that lingering on the actors as they think things through, which I love.” The circumstances of each scene, as Strahovski describes, are extraordinary and heightened, so it’s important to make the scenes as real as possible. She adds there are some scenes coming up that she’s never done before, which she is really excited about. “I’ve never done anything like it in television, film or in theatre. So that’s always really great, when I read the script and see a scene and I think wow, you know, that’s going to be challenging.”
While I am firmly rooting for Jack and Kim to get back together, the question of possible romantic tie between Jack and Kate did come up. Strahovski laughed a little bit at the inquiry. “No. I think that’s not where we’re going with it.” However, though there’s no hook-up between Jack and Kate, she hints it could be with someone else. “It’s not between Kate and Jack, maybe elsewhere. I can’t say who.”
Well, that’s cryptic! I guess we’ll have to wait and see! She does promise we will see a softer side of Kate as the series continues to unfold. I have a feeling it might have to do with a certain tech at the CIA that has feelings for her!
In my view, the return of 24 on our screens has been amazing and like it hasn’t been gone for the last four years. However according to Strahovski, all involved had reservations about the return. “It was such an established television show, extremely well received for eight years and then off the air for four years so I think we collectively, even the producers, didn’t really know how people would react to this. So the fact that the response and the ratings have been quite good has been a lovely surprise because you’re in a vulnerable position when you’re sort of throwing up this twelve-episode series, when the bar is set so high.”
As to rumors of a spin-off, though Strahovski is aware of them from a few articles she’s read, she had no idea how to answer that. “I’m just happy that people seem to like Kate Morgan and I hope they continue to.”
Whether it’s playing a CIA Agent on 24 or Chuck, a serial killer on Dexter or having some down time surfing, hiking and playing with her dogs, Strahovski is grateful to have the success she’s had. “I do feel blessed to have a variety of different roles and I hope to keep doing different types of roles, in all different mediums.”
So what’s coming up for Jack and Kate? Last week, Jack asked for temporary reinstatement to help catch the Al-Harazis and though he initially denies the request, President Heller authorizes Jack’s return to the field. However, although Kate Morgan has been relieved of her duties from the CIA, Jack demands she be involved. How exactly? Let’s just say someone will be put in a very dangerous situation.
According to Strahovski, it’s going to be very interesting. “All I can say is that I think it’s a fun place to be at this point, two strong-minded people. The world knows Jack Bauer better than Kate Morgan, so it’s interesting being the types of people they are. They don’t know if they trust each other entirely, even though they are teaming up. It’s certainly a good starting point to see where it goes.”
Even as Jack and Kate are in grave danger, can they prove to the arms dealer they are for real or will it all go south? How will Prime Minister Davies react to the President’s authorization of allowing a sought after terrorist back in the field? Let the ‘Bauer Power Hour’ games begin!
Don’t miss another intense episode of 24 Live Another Day and the return of Jack Bauer in the field, Monday June 2 at 9:00 p.m. on FOX! In the meantime, catch a promo.