What would bring 24's Kiefer Sutherland back for season 9?

As Fox's 24 gets ready to begin another day—the eighth season in the hit spy-fi series—producers and star Kiefer Sutherland are leaving open the possibility that the show could come back for another season.

"If I were to come back and do a ninth season—which is something that [executive producer] Howard [Gordon] and I have talked about at length—about bringing the show back to a much smaller situation, like we had in year one," Sutherland said in a group interview this week in Pasadena, Calif., as part of the Television Critics Association winter press tour. "In year one there was no bomb. There was no real threat. It was literally trying to protect the [potential] president of the United States and then protect his family. It was literally that small. It lends itself more to a thriller genre than maybe more of an action genre. That was something that interested both of us. So it would be a choice like that which would bring us back."

Sutherland says if he came back, it wouldn't be for the money. "In all fairness, 24 has been so great for me that for me to come back, it would not be a financial decision," he said. "I'm in really good shape. They've taken care of me really well. In all fairness, the same for season eight. I didn't need to come back. I wanted to. I've loved making this show."

In an earlier press conference, Sutherland explained that the show's producers are still hard at work on season eight. In every year of the show, no plans for a new season have ever come before the current season finished.

"Because the task of doing it is so great, that literally from the very first season on, we completed that season and it was really Fox's decision to pick us up," Sutherland said in news conference. "There's never been one specific season that next season was guaranteed or insured. This has been one of the greatest gifts of my life, the ability to do 24. For me, it is something that is absolutely open. I've always said that as long as people wanted us to make it, people were really interested in watching it, I would be interested. There are a lot of components involved. The task of writing it is far greater than the task of acting in it, but certainly it's always open. To continue on doing it, right now my focus is finishing season eight."

Gordon himself added to the hope for a ninth season by hinting that the writers have already started formulating possible ideas. "I will say there's the intellectual, emotional and creative curiosity," Gordon said. "The writers sit around and, in the margins of the time when we're not working on season eight, we do ask ourselves 'What if?' So it's certainly a possibility."

24 premieres with a two-night, four-hour event starting Jan. 17 at 9 p.m. on Fox.

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