May 5th, 2011
03:35 PM ET
Actor Kiefer Sutherland’s got a full plate between his Broadway play, "That Championship Season," his new web series, "The Confession," and of course, the "24” movie.
"There's been talk about it forever," Sutherland told CNN of the feature film version of the smash Fox series. “But it is slated right now for the summer of 2012."
"I'm one of the producers (of Fox's "24" film) and I've been working with Ron Howard,” he revealed. “We've had a couple of scripts that I think were wonderful but they weren't perfect, and I think we worked so hard on the series for that long that we want to make, if not a series of films, at least the one film really matter. We've just been working so hard to reach that."
But when he’s not working on the “24” movie, Sutherland can be found on Broadway – the actor is currently starring in a revival of the Tony and Pulitzer-winning "That Championship Season" alongside Jason Patric, Chris Noth, Brian Cox and Jim Gaffigan.
"There isn't a night that we've done it where I was just relaxed and blasé," Sutherland told CNN. "Every night your stomach starts to go and it matters. For me, it's been one of the great experiences of my career." The production will wrap on May 29.
Sutherland’s also tackling a new web series, "The Confession," which he stars in on top of serving as one of the executive producers. The 10-episode series has a total running time of about an hour, and can be found on Hulu.com. Each installment is between five and 10 minutes in length.
The protagonist in "The Confession" is a man who visits a Catholic priest (played by John Hurt) in a confessional booth for the first time in 35 years. The confessor, played by Sutherland, tells the priest that he has done horrible things, yet feels no guilt. He's not seeking forgiveness; rather, he wishes to understand evil.
We soon learn that the confessor, a hit man, has to kill another man that night.
A good chunk of the narrative unfolds in flashbacks of his character's past. We learn that "the chance at a normal life was ripped away" from him. He remains vehement, however, that the people he killed deserved what they got and that "sometimes murder is justice."
Sutherland told CNN, "I was making this film with (director) Larry von Trier called ‘Melancholia’ (which also stars Kirsten Dunst, set for release later this year); and at the same time, I was working with Brad Mirman on ‘The Confession.’ John Hurt, who is also in ‘Melancholia,’ asked me what I was doing, and I explained to him the potential that I thought the Internet had not only for actors and storytellers but the ability to reach a volume in audience that has really never even come close to being matched."
Sutherland teamed up with screenwriter Mirman and “Confession” co-executive producer Chris Young, CEO of DBG (Digital Broadcasting Group), who was introduced to Sutherland by a mutual friend.
The three men were intrigued by the notion of the webisode format but didn't yet have a solid plot until, Mirman told CNN, "[Kiefer] called me and said, 'What do you think about a hit man in a confessional?' And immediately I could see the dramatic possibilities in that."
Not that the webisode format didn't present a challenge. “You're dealing with such short episodes so you have to find really strong ins and outs in all 10 episodes," Mirman said. "With an hour show you only have to worry about the cliffhanger at the end, but with this you have to worry about the cliffhanger at the end of every five or seven-minute segment."
Sutherland pointed out that another aspect of the shorter episode lengths "is that you really have to hone in on a writing skill. Brad Mirman has done such a phenomenal job doing that because you have to be so precise. Each little moment has to have a very strong intent and has to have a very strong conflict and has to have a resolve."
Everyone involved with the show is thrilled with the positive reception it is getting, including glowing reviews from critics as well as Hulu viewers.
"People were happy to consume content on the internet and other devices rather than traditional TV," said Young, adding, "Now that the digital living room is upon us, the reaction has been they want it to be longer. We planned it to be small, bite-sized pieces."
Mirman agreed, noting that's a good thing: "If they want it to be longer, it means they’re responding to the show."
There was no scrimping in terms of production value, as Mirman told us that every actor that walked on that set "could have been walking onto the set of any network television show or any movie set for that matter. You wouldn't have seen a difference. Production values are every bit as high as anything Kiefer and I have ever worked on."
"Wouldn't it be funny if," he concluded, "after everything we've done, this is the thing we're most proud of? Certainly for me, I've never had a response to something like this. When episode eight came out, my Twitter page just lit up like a Christmas tree."
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