Kiefer Sutherland used to make the news for the wrong reasons. But nowadays, despite the occasional bar fight or other alcohol-related incident, Sutherland’s headlines tend to focus on the success of the show he starred in, 24.
The future action star (full name: Kiefer William Frederick Dempsey George Rufus Sutherland) was born December 21, 1966, in London, England, to actors Donald Sutherland and Shirley Douglas. Shortly after Sutherland and his twin sister Rachel were born, the family moved to Los Angeles. By 1970, however, the marriage was over, thanks to Donald Sutherland’s affair with Jane Fonda.
Kiefer moved back to Canada with his mother, where he attended several high schools. Rather than go on to college, he started auditioning for film roles. A starring part in The Bay Boy, a Canadian drama, gave him the funds and encouragement to try out for roles in the U.S., first to New York and then to Los Angeles.
Work on TV’s Amazing Stories brought Kiefer some attention; as he told Rolling Stone in 2006, “When Steven Spielberg hires you, that’s good for three jobs easy.” The jobs in question? Prominent and well-received roles in Stand by Me, The Lost Boys, and Young Guns.
Kiefer seemed to be on his way to stardom, but his subsequent good movies (A Few Good Men, Flatliners) were overshadowed by his bad ones (The Cowboy Way, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me). And like his father, Kiefer sometimes attracted media attention for his relationship troubles, most notably his doomed engagement to Julia Roberts (which was sandwiched between two failed marriages).
Although Kiefer never stopped working altogether, it’s probably safe to say that 24 recharged his career. The show was a hit from the start, and so was he as Jack Bauer, a federal agent who’s totally dedicated and seemingly impossible to kill. Kiefer received five Emmy nominations for the role, finally winning one in 2007.