Annie Wersching Reminisces About 24
What are you going to remember from your time working on 24?
Annie Wersching: Wow. So much. I would say the biggest thing is the cast and crew, and the friends that I've made, but I was an absolutely huge, huge fan of the show before I joined it, so just being a part of such an iconic show and getting to play a role as amazing as Renee Walker. I really, really loved this part, and in your career you hope that you have greater things in your future, but it's hard for me not to, at this time, think of it as sort of a role of a lifetime because she was so dynamic. I will probably mostly miss her.
Why do you think people have continued to tune in and watch 24?
Annie Wersching: Well, definitely in the beginning, it was such a groundbreaking show, and there was nothing else like it on television. It's really like a little feature film every week with the ticking clock and the real-time aspect. There's such an intensity to the show that at the end of the episode, it just leaves you wanting more which is how I think every television show should be.
I interviewed Glenn Morshower last year, and he told me when he received the script in which his 24 character, Aaron, was supposed to die, he called Howard and begged him to reconsider killing his character, and Howard reversed himself in part because Glen was so passionate about it. Were you ever tempted to do anything like that when you learned Renee's fate? Did you have strong feelings like that and would you have gone that far?
Annie Wersching: Obviously, I had immensely, huge, strong feelings. Carlos Bernard also did that once, so there's sort of a little theme going of people fighting for their lives to Howard Gordon. Because they came to me at the very beginning of the season and said "look" - at the top of the season they don't usually know all that much of what they want to do, so the fact that the one big thing they knew they wanted to do was to bring her back damaged, to have Jack have to sort of save her in more ways than one and have them finally get together and then have her be taken away from him, which leads to his path for the end of the series. I knew that that was pretty set in stone, a big thing that they wanted to do overall for the season. I didn't beg too much. Obviously, they knew that I was very sad about it and upset, but those are the moments that make 24 so great.
What do you think of the fact that Renee was sometimes referred to as Jacqueline Bauer?
Annie Wersching: Obviously, that's quite an honor to share that title. I got that a lot last year when she first came on the scene. It wasn't something we thought about or said when we were filming Season 7, so it was interesting to hear that it was the fan reaction. Again, he's a tragic hero, and, obviously, that's sort of ended up happening to her.
I'm wondering: were you happy with the way the death was presented? Were you happy with the way Renee's story line was concluded?
Annie Wersching: Simply because I love the character so much, you always think of other ways that things could have happened. I kind of wish that the Jack/Renee love story-making would have maybe had its own episode to resonate and then maybe she got shot because that was a pretty huge deal. There's a little part of me that was like bummed that those both happened in the same episode because that's really kind of getting overshadowed by the fact that she died. That was a huge moment for the show, the first time that Jack's ever done that. It's interesting, too, that she went out that way as opposed to maybe in the line of field, in a heroic way saving the day, so I think it's interesting that they switched it up a little bit as opposed to what you may have thought would have happened to her.
It's a great show. I've always loved the suspense. I'm wondering - how do you think the fans will react? Like you said, a big part of bringing Renee back was the fact that she was damaged, and Jack needed to sort of save her. I don't know that he really got the opportunity to do that. Do you think fans will be sort of disappointed that it sort of ended perhaps a bit prematurely? What sort of reaction do you expect from what happened?
Annie Wersching: Yeah. I would say I've been actually very overwhelmed by the reaction. I knew that there was a lot of people out there that really loved Renee and loved the Jack/Renee dynamic, but I've had thousands of messages, either on Twitter or Facebook or different fan things, where people are just genuinely so sad and like you said - there isn't sort of a resolution to these two. But, again, it's kind of what fuels Jack Bauer in the rest of the show, and I think they'll end up being pleased that they get to see him being the most intense as Jack Bauer can be.
I hope you take this the right way, but given the realtime format of the show, how carefully did you guys plan how many minutes Jack and Renee would spend in bed together because you don't want to go to a commercial and come back and "we're done!"
Annie Wersching: Absolutely. That was a huge, huge consideration and especially because he's Jack Bauer. There can't be like an eight minute adventure, but we went through many different ways that it was going to be. We weren't even sure if were able to actually get them to the place where they were actually making love because of the realtime. But they figured out finally sort of a way to do it, and it was interesting trying to see to, like, because they knew she was going to get shot right afterwards, so Jack couldn't be naked when he was carrying her to the hospital, so there had to be a way for him to sort of get a little bit of clothes on, but yet make it look like they were still going to go back and have more fun. The specifics were very interesting to figure out, but we were very aware that it needed to have the right amount of time.
I was wondering, during the final episode of filming, were there any particular moments that were kind of hard for you to get through knowing it was like the last time, so to speak.
Annie Wersching: Yeah. Since I knew it was coming, I knew that I was pretty prepared for all of this. However, we shot the lovemaking and the death, sort of both of those things, together over the two days, so it actually helped take away - Kiefer and I were so nervous about the love scene - that it sort of helped tame down the "oh, that Renee was getting shot" part. The whole thing was bittersweet. It was bittersweet to be able to shoot scenes with Kiefer where they finally get close and then straight into covered in blood. It was all pretty bittersweet.
I wanted to ask you two things about the death sequence, if I could. First of all, as long as it played out on screen, obviously it had to play out a longer for you and Kiefer in the filming of it.
Annie Wersching: Oh my goodness, yes.
Obviously, both of you knew that it was your last scene together. What was it like during the filming of that between the two of you?
Annie Wersching: As far as the death part?
Yeah, because obviously you would have had to have been together a lot longer than what we actually saw on film filming that particular sequence.
Annie Wersching: Yeah. It's funny because once I saw it air the other night, it seemed to all happen much quicker than it did in my mind, and I think because, like you say, we spent, I think it was over two days, which are like 12 to 14 hour days right in a row together of basically him trying to save her. It was very intense and a very big episode for him as far as - I mean that look on his face when they come out and tell him that it didn't work was just heartbreaking. We spent quite a bit of time on it, and it was very sad. I felt bad that he had to carry me so much.
Also for you playing out the death itself, there are obviously different ways an actress can do a death, but in this case, you have made Renee such a very specific character, you wanted to be true to her. Was there a lot of conversation in as much as there was about the lovemaking in terms of how exactly you would play out her dying?
Annie Wersching: There wasn't really, I mean as far as specifics from a director or anything. I'm sure if I had been doing something that didn't seem suitable to how Renee should die, they would have told me. It sort of just naturally happened. She didn't seem like the type that would be over-excessively gurgling and different things like that, and just the fact that she was in his arms for most of it with his face right there in the cab. Those last moments were just heartbreaking.
Annie, I wanted to find out if maybe you could tell us how you originally became in 24 and perhaps about some of the acting challenges you found first stepping into this role.
Annie Wersching: Sure. I was cast in a Fox and Twentieth Century Fox pilot that Jon Cassar and Joel Surnow went to do in the spring of 2007. That pilot didn't get picked up, so when they were casting for Renee, they were actually having a very difficult time casting for the role of Renee Walker, just trying to figure out how old they wanted her to be, how young, how tough, how cold - so they brought me in for it, and the role that I played in the pilot was very different from Renee, so I think they brought me in thinking "oh we liked working with her, but she's not really right for this, but we'll bring her in." That was a very proud moment for me in my audition life just because I feel like I really went in and sort of changed their mind about what they had preconceived about the type of actress I was and something that I was right for. The challenges were pretty much just - since so much of my stuff was with Kiefer, you really had to show up on your game. You never could be slacking in any sense, so it really challenged me and made me such a better actor and person. It's just an amazing experience.
I just had a question about which version of Renee was more challenging for you to play or more rewarding or maybe both, the by-the-book Renee that we met in the beginning or the more unhinged version that we saw this season and the end of last season.
Annie Wersching: Right. Wow, that's a good question. The by-the-book Renee, that was in the very beginning so sort of finding her was an interesting challenge and figuring out that first little relationship between Jack and Renee when they first met was a challenge. That was what was so great about this character through just two seasons, not even a full two seasons, I got to play so many different sides of her. Last year was challenging in that I was in every episode, and there was such a great arc that was written for the whole season so I really wanted to give it little nuances and make the arc interesting. This season I got to do more intense things when I was on, but it was more little bursts. I wouldn't be around for a couple of episodes, and then I'd be there in a really intense way for four or five episodes. They were both so challenging and so wonderful.
Over the two seasons, you had some, aside from, of course, last week's great episode, you had some really great moments, not only with Kiefer but with other actors that helped kind of define your character. What for you stood out aside from obviously the sad end, but that you felt really kind of helped crystallize her, either from an acting standpoint or from a character standpoint?
Annie Wersching: Oh, goodness. Obviously just the relationship that sort of was able to develop between Jack and Renee in that first day of only knowing each other for 24 hours was a huge thing. For whatever reason when you asked the question, for some reason, the scene where it's Jack, Larry Moss, and Renee right in front of the Capitol that was shot in D.C., the three of us basically having a conversation and battling the idea of Larry saying -just the whole moral dilemma of what's right and what's wrong and everything. For whatever reason, that was sort of her breaking point where she didn't want to but kind of chose to do the one that Jack was suggesting. I think that was a big defining moment for her.
I'm wondering - was your segment filmed before the show was canceled or were you on the set? Was it kind of expected there? What was the reaction?
Annie Wersching: This sort of happened to me for both seasons that I was completely finished filming all of my Renee stuff before the season even started airing. That happened to us with Season 7, obviously, because of the writer's strike. But then for me, we finished up to episode 18 by Christmas, so by the time we were out promoting the show starting to air in January, I had already shot everything. It's crazy mostly because I've been keeping it a secret for three and a half months which is slightly difficult. So as far as the show ending, I wasn't there on set as much. I went to visit, but for months it was kind of like "has anybody heard anything, anybody know anything, I don't know, I heard 50-50 shot, Oh, NBC might pick it up." There were always sort of rumors going around through the crew. We knew it wasn't necessarily looking great, but everybody had high hopes. I think the fact that the movie is sort of lurking out there in the future was something that at least was something sort of to look forward to, knowing that you will at least see Jack again.
I was wondering, obviously Renee comes from a long line of characters that Jack gets romantically linked in and unfortunately does not have a long-lasting thing with, but she is different from all of them in the way that she is his equal on the battlefield in a lot of ways. How does that separate the character for you from some of the other characters like Audrey or Terri Bauer or any of those guys?
Annie Wersching: Being a fan of the show, too, I think it was really interesting just knowing that I knew Jack's history with every single woman throughout the show from just watching it, so I that was somewhat of little bit of an advantage. Besides being just equal out in the field, she was the first one, I think, that truly got him and understood what he has to live with inside of him in order to be the man that he is and do the sort of things that he has to do and the moral dilemma and the pain that he lives with. I think that's what made them so unique is that she's really the first person ever that just truly understood him and got him.
I was also wondering if they had ever talked about Larry as a love interest for Renee last season and when that changed in favor of Jack.
Annie Wersching: Yeah. There was sort of always this lingering question as to what exactly was Renee and Larry's history. I think for us, the ... never addressed it specifically in the show, but for us, Jeffrey and I kind of decided that maybe they had kind of dated for a second and then realized that no, we have to be professional, but he was still sort of always pining for her and longing for her. There was no really discussion as to if Larry and Renee were going to get together last season. It was more a lingering history that they wanted you to sort of sense between those two.
Only a handful of killed 24 characters have been given the tribute of a silent clock running after their deaths. Was it cool and gratifying for you to rate a silent clock, or would you have been miffed if you didn't get one?
Annie Wersching: It was a great honor, obviously. Besides Jack, she was actually the only one to ever get two silent clocks, because there was a silent clock, with a little bit of breathing for Renee after she was buried alive in Episode 5 of Season 7, and I didn't even think about that, but fans have been sending me things saying "did you know you're the only one besides Jack to ever get two silent clocks" I guess Jack got a silent clock in redemption at the end of another season. A complete honor, because I'm a fan of the show and I know the significance of the silent clock - a complete honor.
I know you've said elsewhere that it saddens you that there won't be a future for Renee in any sense in the universe of 24 characters whether the show is on the air or not. Had her future been different, what would you foresee for Renee?
Annie Wersching: If it had taken off right from being in Jack's apartment, I think it would have been very interesting to sort of see the two of them try to make it in the world, maybe going back to California, but sort of always getting called back into the line of doing the right thing to help save people. I think it would have been just fun to see them out saving the day together and running around in different situations and countries and places, always having close calls but getting to sort of save the day together would have been pretty fantastic.
24 will be counting down with another episodes towards the series finale tonight at 8 PM ET and the series finale is set for a two-hour event on Monday, May 24 at 8 PM ET on Fox.