The OTHER New President: Spotlight On 24’s Cherry Jones

cherry jones 24
The TV Addict on the set of 24 with Cherry Jones, August 2008

What exactly does one do for an encore after creating the Tony award winning role of Sister Aloysius in Broadway’s critically acclaimed stage production of DOUBT? 

If you’re actress Cherry Jones, you decide to trade in the job security that comes with 708 performances in a critically acclaimed play and parlay it into a higher profile, yet far less secure faux political gig. Hillary Clinton may have failed to become the first female president in United States history, but the same can’t be said of Jones, who steps into the oval office as president-elect Allison Taylor on 24 this Sunday on FOX (Global TV in Canada).

In the grand tradition of 24, voters… er, viewers will have about five minutes to reflect on the fact that 24 gave us an African-American president (Dennis Haysbert’s David Palmer) several years before Barack Obama took office and what legacy Jones’ Taylor will have on the pop culture/political landscape before all hell breaks loose.

And while chaos may be the last thing an actual president wants, Jones is relishing every minute of the bedlam rocking her administration.

“The cabinet, the Situation Room, meeting the Joint Chiefs, it’s so much fun.” explained the visibly excited actress on this TV Addict’s August visit to the set of 24. “My mother keeps saying, ‘It’s just like you and the boys back in the woods. Always playing espionage games.'”

In fact, it was Jones’ childhood fondness for spy shows like THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. and MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE that contributed to her decision to trade Broadway for the (fictional) Beltway. The other deciding factor? Well, that had a little something to do with the allure of the Oval Office. “The icing on the cake was that it was the President of the United States. It was not just a mom role,” she explained while casually yet commandingly leaning against an exact replica of the desk gracing the real president’s office. “I mean nothing against moms, but this is certainly a rather exciting role for a middle-aged actress to play.”

Despite our best efforts to find out exactly what kind of threat President Taylor will face (trigger-happy terrorists? dominating dictators? psychopathic sychophants?), her portrayer remained as tight-lipped as a White House press secretary. She did, however, suggest that Jack Bauer is truly a high-ranking gal’s best friend.”I think there’s something about being absolutely at the height of intensity in almost every moment in one’s job that you don’t have time to think much,” Jones shared. “To know that Mr. Bauer’s out there to save the day makes it a lot easier.” 

While Jack’s dashing about, as is his way, could President Taylor find herself dealing with domestic issues of a more, well, home-bound nature? After all, past occupants of the office she now occupies have had to deal with spouses both duplicitious (yeah, we’re talking to you, Sherry Palmer!) and drugged (paging Martha Logan). So should the new president keep a close eye on First Gentleman Henry Taylor (played by Colm Feore)? “I’m learning more and more about my relationship with my husband and children (played Sprague Grayden and Eric Lively) as we go along,” Jones says in character.

Which as fans know all too well is half the fun of 24: Sitting on the edge of your seat as the doomsday clock counts down, wondering not so much who’s going to doublecross whom, but when!  “I’m a very slow reader, but you get these 24 scripts and you’re just ripping through it,” Jones admits with all the giddiness of your average spoiler-seeking fan. “You’re just dying to get to the next episode!”

After all, in the world of 24, that’s the only way to find out who you can trust.

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