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AFTER garnering immense popularity for his role as Jack Bauer in the Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning TV series, 24, it would stand to reason that Kiefer Sutherland would gravitate towards another fast-paced offering.
But he has made a departure from the action per se. Instead, he has given the nod to Touch, a supernatural drama by Tim Kring à la Bruce Willis’ Mercury Rising.
The premise revolves around Sutherland, as Martin Bohm, the father of an autistic 11-year-old Jake, who has been mute since birth. A former reporter, Martin quit his job after the death of his wife during the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre.
To pacify Jake, Martin distracts him with cellphones, orange cool-drink and popcorn kernels.
But his son’s obsession with the number 318 snowballs into various incidents, which also attracts a visit from social services, that leads Martin to realise that his son has a rare ability to foresee events through numbers.
Touch is rather perplexing at first – some might even say a little too clever. But, as the story unfolds, viewers get reeled in to the dilemma of a father desperate to connect with his son and protect him from a world that would prefer to reject rather than understand him.
Danny Glover as Professor Arthur Teller, who has great insight into Jake’s numerical clairvoyance, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw as social worker, Clea Hopkins are the other lead characters that help bolster the story.
Sutherland, interestingly enough, was busy with That Championship Season on Broadway when he got a call from a great friend who wanted him to look at the script for the television pilot for Touch.
In an interview with Collider.com, he explains: “I responded, ‘Do you know what? I’m not ready to do that yet. I think I’m going to finish up the play and do this film with Mira Nair’.”
He adds, “I really wanted some time apart from this amazing experience I had with 24 and to try some different things.”
But she managed to twist his arm – and he was bowled over by the script.
“The character was so vastly different, and the tone of the piece was so vastly different, that that was part of its appeal. I had to re-read it a second time, to make sure that all of the emotional components that I was reacting to so strongly were affecting me on a personal level, as opposed to trying to manage a career.
It was unbelievably appealing because it was so different, and then I just emotionally responded to the piece in such a strong way that, by the end of it, I realised that, if they would have me, this was certainly something I wanted to do,” the actor shares.
Shedding light on the psyche of Martin, he adds, “The real driving force for my character is to really just simply communicate with his son.
“He wants to have as normal a relationship as he possibly can, which I think every parent can relate to.
The rest of the stuff is really for the audience to experience, in how one thing can interconnect or affect another. The one parallel that I can bring from the two characters is that Jack Bauer was asked to save the day, and there were always going to be casualties. It was never going to be a perfect win.
And Martin Bohm, my character, is never going to have the perfect, idyllic relationship with his son. There is a circumstance that puts a weight on both characters, where they just will never completely win. That is something that, for whatever reason, I am drawn to, as an actor.”
Touch explores an unconventional father-and-son bond as Martin goes blindly into situations, where, in using the communication from his son, he hopes to avert a tragedy.
But the jury is out on whether viewers will be as enamoured as Sutherland. Remember what became of FlashFoward?
• Touch airs on M-Net (DStv Channel 101) on Monday at 9.30pm.