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Donald Sutherland Refused To Play Jack Bauer's Father For A Touching Reason

When it comes to cinematic families, there are few as intriguing and prolific as the Sutherlands. One of the most acclaimed actors of his generation, Donald Sutherland was a cinematic legend, rising to prominence in the '60s and '70s thanks to roles in "The Dirty Dozen" and "MASH." His son, Kiefer, has gone on to do great things as well, including headlining the popular Fox series "24" for over 190 episodes. With both the Sutherlands cemented as masters of their craft, it's surprising to learn that Donald once refused to play father to Kiefer's "24" character Jack Bauer.

In an interview (via The Things), Donald revealed that he was once asked to play Bauer's father. "I told Kiefer, 'I'd love to play Sean Connery to your Harrison Ford, but not a father who wants to kill you.' We're looking for something else we can do together," Donald said. Philip Bauer was positioned as a force to be reckoned with in Season 6, but the character was far from a saint, putting him at odds with his son Jack. The role ultimately went to veteran actor James Cromwell.

It's surprising that Keifer's father didn't want to play a villain, considering some of Donald Sutherland's best movies involve him portraying a bad guy. The actor, who famously starred in "The Hunger Games" franchise, died in June 2024, leaving behind an impressive cinematic footprint. And while he didn't play the father of Kiefer's most iconic role, the father-son duo did team up for an underrated drama.

Kiefer and Donald Sutherland starred as father and son in a Western

Donald and Kiefer Sutherland have worked together a number of times, but they only played an on-screen father-son duo once. Kiefer made his cinematic debut in the 1983 film "Max Dugan Returns," which featured Donald in a supporting performance, years before the young actor's star-making turn in "Stand By Me." The father-son duo was also featured in Sandra Bullock's 1996 flick "A Time to Kill," though their characters weren't related to each other. And finally, after decades of leaving their mark on cinema, they played father and son in the 2015 western "Forsaken."

The film follows John (Kiefer) returning to his old town to make amends with his father, Rev. Clayton (Donald). Their reunion is cut short after John realizes he has to save the town from thugs. Upon release, "Forsaken" was met with mixed-to-negative reviews from critics — it has a 40% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences were a bit kinder, as fans on the film-centric social media site Letterboxd have awarded the flick a 3 out of 5 average score, and an 87% on Rotten Tomatoes.

While speaking with The Columbus Dispatch, Kiefer expressed how happy he was to finally work with his father in such an intriguing role. "I've wanted to work with my dad since I started. There were three actors whom I admired through school: my dad, Gene Hackman and Bobby Duvall," the "24" actor said, adding, "It's something that I've wanted to do for 30 years and just thought we better get it done sooner than later."

"Forsaken" is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.