LOS ANGELES — Eight seasons in, "24" was 86'd. But cast and crew were still counting their blessings at the drama series' finale party.
By the time the last episode airs on May 24, there will have been nearly 200 hours of "24." To date, there have been 18 Emmy wins.
"I think over the course of the eight years, we've had 16 marriages and 30-something children have been born," said star Kiefer Sutherland, who portrays federal agent Jack Bauer on the series. "We were like a family. So, it's very hard to say goodbye."
Dozens of the show's cast and crew members joined Sutherland to celebrate in Hollywood Friday night. Among them was longtime show regular Mary Lynn Rajskub, who plays Bauer's go-to colleague, Chloe O'Brian.
She recalled her final day on the set. "When they said, 'Cut!', I don't know what I was thinking," Rajskub said. "And then they said, 'This is Mary Lynn's series wrap.' And I just looked around. The crew was surrounding me. And I just kind of burst into tears."
Sad as the end may be, Sutherland said the time is right.
"It was a lot of different things. It's a very, very difficult show to write. And (executive producer) Howard Gordon . . . normally halfway through the season will say, 'I've got a great idea for next year.' And he just wasn't feeling it. And all his energy was focused on this season eight. He said, 'This is where I feel it should end, and we should be making the films.' And once he says that, you've got to go with him."
The "24" feature film, still in development, will stray from the show's format in at least one key way: It won't take 24 hours to tell its story of a day in the life of Jack Bauer.
"The film is a great opportunity for the writers, because it's the first time they won't be working in real time," Sutherland explained. "It will be a two-hour representation of a 24-hour day, so, all of a sudden, it's very feasible in 24 hours to get from England to Eastern Europe, so it opens up our horizons a great deal."
As for the finale? Rajskub dropped a few clues.
"Right now, we see Chloe having to come up with Jack and go after him, and go against his wishes, which she's never really done," Rajskub said. "She's being put in this position of power and having to grapple with these decisions that she's never had to do before, so she decides to take it on herself and go find him and confront him, and it's pretty explosive."