Admittedly I was dubious about the new season of 24 after watching year six decay like any one of the hundreds of bodies Jack Bauer has left in his wake. But lo and behold, not only is season seven utterly amazing, but in my opinion, one of the best seasons the show has ever produced.
A lot of the credit sits on the lovely shoulders of Annie Wersching, who plays my favorite new character on any show: Agent Renee Walker. Watching this FBI-er learn to live by Bauer’s Code — do whatever it takes to stop the terrorists — has helped rejuvenate the show in a fundamental way.
Tonight’s two-hour event marks the season’s midpoint and inevitably houses several game changing moments. I talked to Annie to find out what’s in store for rule-bending Renee, what it’s like to slap Jack Bauer and whether she could potentially pull a Nina Myers.
PopWrap: I know you were a big fan of the show going in, how does that change the experience for you as an actor?
Annie Wersching: It’s very strange. I worked so much with Kiefer [Sutherland] that I got used to sharing scenes with Jack Bauer. It was more surreal when all of a sudden I would have a scene with Tony or Chloe, where it was like, “Wait, why is Chloe talking to me?” It just freaked me out. Unfortunately as a fan, “24” is pretty much ruined for me — now it seems like a totally fake show.
PopWrap: I’ve loved how Renee has evolved — how much of her arc did you know at the outset?
Annie Wersching: None. Nothing [laughs]. It’s a very interesting show in that way. They very much write as they go. They want to see how scenes play out and how the chemistry is between certain characters and then write based on that.
PopWrap: In that case, did you spend much time planning out Renee’s pre-Jack Bauer life?
Annie Wersching: You know, I was cast pretty last minute for the role — they were having a hard time locking Renee down. They couldn’t decide how old to make her, how tough to make her, all these things — so I was only cast a week before we started shooting and didn’t have that much time to develop a back story. But I’m also not the kind of actor who, you know, writes in journals as the character — I just play her at that minute.
PopWrap: Historically, the women in Jack’s life don’t tend to fare too well.
Annie Wersching: I know, but it’s so fun — this is such a great role where I get to do it all; action, stunts, running around waving a gun and shouting with Kiefer. But then I also get to be so conflicted over everything I’m doing. There’s a real emotional arc, and there aren’t too many female roles like her on TV. I love Renee.
PopWrap: Plus, she might be the only character to slap Jack Bauer and live to tell about it.
Annie Wersching: I know! I was so excited for that! When I first read Renee slaps Jack I was like, “Oh my god!” It’s such an interesting dynamic they have because Jack’s seen some terrible things over the years and learned to harness his feelings in a way that, even if he is conflicted, he’s not bawling in a hospital about it. I think Renee’s good for him. I think she brings back some humanity to Jack and makes him think about things he’s tried not to think about for years.
PopWrap: So that begs the question — is Renee good for him romantically?
Annie Wersching: I think she’s very intrigued by Jack. He has some sort of pull over her. He’s obviously become a strange mentor to her as well and I think she’s mystified by him and how he’s survived all these years. I think, right now, Larry [her old flame & boss] is in the back of her mind.
PopWrap: The ladies on this show also love to turn evil — would you like to see Renee stay a good guy?
Annie Wersching: It’s hard because those twists are what make “24” so ridiculously amazing. It’s what they’re known for, those “No way!” moments. So that would be so much fun to be a part of, but I hope that Renee stays true. I hope.
PopWrap: Tonight’s two-hour movie event seems like a game changer. What can fans expect to see?
Annie Wersching: It’s going to be awesome! Although the audience knows the White House is under siege, none of the characters know what the next target is. Renee gets to go out a lot on her own tonight, just like Jack. And I have a pretty cool fight sequence. Then I end up in the Potomac.
PopWrap: The real Potomac River?
Annie Wersching: It was actually in San Pedro California. It was 5:30 am and we’d been shooting all day and the water was 52 degrees. We were chasing the sun and I had to jump in without my wetsuit — it was the worst moment of filming throughout the whole season.
PopWrap: Wow, so you might get another costume change — three per season must be a record!
Annie Wersching: I know! I was very excited for that at first, but then a few episodes later I was like, “Oh man, I miss that suit.” It was a good suit.
PopWrap: They should let you keep one
Annie Wersching: Yea, they should! There’s like eight of them in a variety of sizes just in case you shoot an episode after the holidays and eat too much.
PopWrap: I know it took longer than usual to film this season — how long in total were you working on season seven?
Annie Wersching: Oh my god, it was forever. My first day of shooting on episode one was Sept. 7, 2007. Yeah. And then we shot till December and the writer’s strike happened. So we were off until May, then shot a few more, then I had June off while they filmed “Redemption.” We finished filming the 24th episode in December.
PopWrap: And for all that time you couldn’t change your appearance in any way, right?
Annie Wersching: Yeah, that was hard — even the weird things I never thought about, like cutting your fingernails. And it’s hard with all those long breaks, making sure you don’t gain a couple of pounds — it has to look like the same day, so it’s challenging.
PopWrap: Was it difficult to keep track of what Renee had done?
Annie Wersching: Definitely. Even filming it. The first eight episodes were shot in the fall of 2007, so when we were promoting the season premiere and reporters would ask me questions, it was like, “Um … I don’t remember. It was so long ago.”
PopWrap: Speaking of, you seem to have something on your resume from a long time ago — that you are a facial contortionist and can burp on command?
Annie Wersching: Oh god, yes. They so need to take that off my resume — everyone asks me about it! I did a radio interview and he was the first guy to ask me, I was totally thrown. Then I ended up doing it for him on the air, and I was horrified — what was I thinking?
PopWrap: How exactly does that make it onto an actor’s resume?
Annie Wersching: It goes back to college — I was a musical theater major and I lived in a big house with some friends and we would always make crazy faces. Then the next person would them try to match it. We came up with some weird stuff, like I can do this really weird goose thing with my mouth.
PopWrap: And the burping?
Annie Wersching: Somehow through growing up and high school it just developed. But I have to say, I’m pretty damn good at it!
About Annie Wersching
Annie Wersching is an actress best known for Renee Walker on 24. This is the most comprehensive Annie Wersching resource on the web with the largest collection of pictures, videos, interviews, latest news, and more.