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"I went to see Stand By Me and thought my career was over"

What first brought you to Mirrors?

Alex did something with The Hills Have Eyes that I haven’t seen in a long time, which reminded me of The Omen that reminded me of what I liked about Amityville Horror, which reminded me of The Exorcist.

And even though the characters in The Hills Have Eyes weren’t as developed as I think the characters in Mirrors are, he still managed to weave a concern for the child, a concern for the family and somehow even without a lot of interaction and dialogue.

Did he live up to your expectations?

He surpassed them. I think Alex has an unbelievable sense of vision as a film-maker. It was very interesting to watch someone work in a second language.

I find this with a lot of people who that actually learn English as a second language, they have such an interesting perspective on things. His dialogue was really concise and that’s a really interesting way to work.

You’ve said before that you find it hard to watch films like this…

Yeah but the making of one is different and it’s fun. It’s the ability to know you are stringing someone along to this big jump.

From the time when I was five, I loved to hide behind the chair and scare the shit out of my twin sister – so the desire to do it has no correlation to my ability to watch it.

Sometimes horror films become all about the effects and the story gets lost in the process. Had did you ensure that didn’t happen?

What I think is lost sometimes is the ability to make a film where if you took out the scary bits, you still care about the characters.

I said to Alex, “look, you’ve written this script and I believe I can make you care about this man, but what I need to know from you is that you can scare the hell out of me.” He took a long beat and he looked down and he went “oh yeah...” in that French accent. (laughs)

So we knew our jobs, we knew our roles. I think that Alex did a wonderful job and at least from my perspective, he kept his word in maintaining a balance between those things – but that’s ultimately for an audience to decide.

Do you believe that, letting the audience decide?

Yes, I do. I was the actor who went to see Stand By Me and thought my career was over. I thought the film was great, but I thought I was terrible. And that’s when I learned ‘maybe I’m not the best judge of that..’

What is it like to make a film like this? Can you feel the jumps whilst you're going or do you have to trust that the director will create much of that with the editing?

Sometimes I have to trust. If I were as clever as Alex is as a film-maker, I wouldn’t need Alex and if Alex could act he wouldn’t need me (laughs).

I think the second you understand that you both need each other to tell the story then it becomes much easier to hand stuff over.

I’ve gotten much better over the years of doing this of knowing when I’m going to connect with someone. And I felt at home with Alex the second we said hello. I just felt that.

Would you work with him again?

In a heartbeat. My concern is now that he will have his next twenty years work set up. As a director Alex has a broad scope of talent, but he happens to love the horror genre. I think he will do all sorts of different films.

Do you find that taking on something completely different from 24 reinvigorates you when you return to the show?

Yes. And oddly enough I’ve found for me that I do better when I'm working in the break. To play a different character and then get to go back to do Jack Bauer, yes it does reinvigorate me.

How do you feel about playing Jack Bauer now?

One of the great fears that I had, and I think every actor has when they enter into the possibility of television, is you sign a contract and it used to be minimum of five years, then it becomes a minimum of seven.

So I’m sitting there thinking about the one thing that every actor has always talked about, and that is ‘what’s it going to be like to have to play the same character over that long a period of time?’

It wasn’t until the second or third year that I thought to myself ‘what an arrogant thing to say. Because it’s not the same character - every year informs the next year.

Do you put a time limit on playing Jack Bauer?

It’s still a writer’s medium. We really do believe that we have done something special with season seven. We probably ran into more hiccups with season six than we were accustomed to so it put a lot of fight back into us.

So I think you have to take each year as it comes because the last thing you want to do is take it from this prestigious height and start dragging it down.

It doesn’t deserve that and we’re there to service the show so service it we will. Invariably it will be an audience that will tell you it’s done and that has to be the contract you will have with an audience – they are the ones that put you in a place to do it, they are the ones that appreciated it and they are the ones to tell you it’s over.

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