“I’m the luckiest person I know,” says Kiefer Sutherland. / Brian Bowen Smith / Fox
Autism: Reality vs. fiction
On Kiefer Sutherland’s new show, Touch, his son Jake displays autism-like traits: He doesn’t speak or show affection and has repetitive behaviors. He also can predict events.
Most agree his supernatural abilities are part of the drama, not his diagnosis. Here are the real-life facts on autism, according to Autism Speaks:
What is autism?
A brain development disorder characterized by difficulties in social interaction and communication, and repetitive behaviors.
How common is it?
» Estimated 1% of U.S. population diagnosed.
» 1 in 110 of those are children.
» 4 times more common in boys.
» No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by 6 months old or after.
» No words by 16 months.
Each case is unique
» 40% have average to above average intellectual abilities.
» 25% are non-verbal but can learn to communicate by other means.
» Can involve behavioral treatments, medications or both.
» Early behavioral intervention can improve learning, communication and social skills.
To learn more, visit autismspeaks.org.
It’s been almost two years since Jack Bauer, aka Kiefer Sutherland, was being chased around the world in TV’s 24. Starting Thursday, he’s finally on to what he hopes is his next big hit, Touch.
At 45, the twice-divorced Sutherland has had his ups and downs, professionally and personally. Now, the grandfather of two gushes, “I’ve been the luckiest person I know.”
And why not? He has a brand-new network show and a close-knit family that includes his daughter, actress Sarah, 24, who will play opposite Julia Louis-Dreyfus in HBO’s upcoming Veep, and stepdaughter Michelle, 34, a married DJ with two young sons.
The actor recently took time out from shooting Touch to chat about being a tough guy (not!); words of wisdom from his famous father, Donald Sutherland; and what he says is one of his biggest regrets.
After eight seasons, is it a relief not to be playing Jack Bauer?
“No. I had a wonderful time, but I love this character Martin [in Touch]. This is the very beginning of something, so it’s exciting.”
Do you think that people are connected and have greater perception, as on Touch?
“Of course I do. I think there’s an effect in all the choices we make. And in that, we all matter. I found that to be quite affirming.”
Did you have a backup plan if acting didn't work out?
“I certainly had another passion, and it was everything from farming to music. The problem was I wasn’t a very good musician, which was difficult because I loved it more than anything. What was much more natural for me was being on stage. There were times I thought, “I’m in real trouble,” because I’d have a little bit of work, then it would go away and then just in the nick of time, I’d get more work. [If I hadn’t], I would have had to go back to school and would have been the oldest high school student on the face of the earth.”
So you didn't get your high school diploma?
“No, which is something that has made me self-conscious ever since. I don’t recommend it to anybody.”
What's the best personal advice your father gave you?
“Some of the nicest moments I’ve had have been watching his relationship with his granddaughters and him saying [to me], ‘You did a good job.’ I had a child at such a young age , I was quite nervous and scared. I’ve raised Michelle since she was 8 and I was 19. It was kind of trial by fire.”
Grandchildren - gosh, you're making me feel old.
“Oh, honey, you should see what it makes me feel.”
People assume you're a tough guy like Jack Bauer. Are you?
“No. My gosh, I stand 5-foot-10 on a really good day, 165 pounds. There are plenty of people who can beat the crap out of me.”
After 24, one assumes you are a gadget guy. True?
“No, I’m the opposite. I think I’m the last person without a computer. I’ve traveled with good friends, and when we get off the plane, they have 132 e-mails to answer. I’d rather stick a darning needle in my eye.”
You've been married twice [and famously engaged to Julia Roberts]. Would you marry again?
“It’s not something I think about a whole lot, but if I was in a different place in my life, yeah. I would hate to be the person to say, “No, I would never do that.” But in all fairness, when you take on a show like this or 24, you kind of end up getting married to that.”
You're still on probation for your DUI in 2007. How do you feel about it now?
“It was stupid. I just wasn’t thinking. I was at a function, actually, for 24. It was a wake-up call for me, and I had to re-evaluate what was important.The idea of something as careless and thoughtless as that, where someone [could] get hurt or killed, is inexcusable, and I’m a father.”
If you could create your future, what would you wish?
“It certainly wouldn’t have to do with me. I’ve been the luckiest person I know. On a really selfish level, I would want happiness for my children and my family and would love all of their dreams and aspirations to come true. You and I both know the world doesn’t work like that.”