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TV URBAN LEGEND: Kiefer Sutherland added lines to episodes of 24 just to mess with fans playing 24-based drinking games.
Something that often gets lost among fans, particularly on the Internet, is that writers, artists, directors and actors are just people. There’s often a bit of a detachment when fans write about them, as if doesn’t matter because they’re never going to see it. But you might be surprised by how often they do read the negative things written about them online. Jimmy Kimmel has a whole bit on his show in which celebrities read mean tweets about themselves. It’s not just fans, of course. Popular celebrity impersonators also talk about the odd feeling when they know a celebrity has seen their (often mocking) impressions. A particular amusing instance where celebrities sometimes “break the fourth wall,” in a way, is when they become involved in games revolving around them. Like Gwyneth Paltrow calling in to a radio contest about her (which I featured in a Movie Legends Revealed a while back). Or Kiefer Sutherland’s interesting response to learning about a drinking game based around his hit TV series 24.
24 was a long-running TV series that recently returned for a ninth season after a four-year absence (the finale airs Monday). It stars Sutherland as Jack Bauer (who has worked with and for various federal agencies over the course of the series, most typically for the fictional Counter Terrorism Unit). Every season takes place in a single day, with every episode set in real time. So each day has Jack dealing with one (or sometimes multiple) threats to American security through various terrorist attacks (assassination attempts, nuclear bombs, deadly viruses, hijacked drones, you name it). With such a rigid format, 24 is known for following a certain formula: When you need to fill up 24 hours’ worth of a story, it’s always useful to have a traitor involved, for instance, to delay the good guys from solving the crisis too quickly. So nearly every season of has involved at least one traitor working with the good guys.
This adherence to formula is what makes 24 such an appealing show to use as a basis for a drinking game. Drink every time someone “established a perimeter”; drink every time someone talks about “protocols”; drink every time Jack Bauer yells/asks someone, “Who are you working for?” And, of course, drink every time Jack yells “Damn it!” That’s a particularly popular phrase, as 24 airs on network television, which means Jack can’t very well use explicit profanity.
Here are some examples:
However, the twist came when Sutherland learned about the drinking games that developed (primarily among college students) around the series. His first reaction was to try to use the popular phrases less. Instead, though, he decided to use the phrase more. He explained to Rolling Stone that he began saying the phrase multiple times:
Boom, boom, boom. And that was just one scene. By the end, there had to be fourteen ‘Damn its.’ And I could just see all these college kids going, ‘Oh, fuck!’ “
The lesson is, as always, when it comes to drinking, don’t mess with Kiefer Sutherland.
The legend is…
Thanks to Erik Hedegaard of Rolling Stone and Kiefer Sutherland for the quote!
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Be sure to check out my Entertainment Urban Legends Revealed for more urban legends about the worlds of TV, Movies and Music!