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Kiefer Sutherland Explains How He Chooses Roles And Why He Wanted To Be Part Of The Contractor - Exclusive

Kiefer Sutherland has played everything from a cowboy in "Young Guns" to a medical student in "Flatliners" to the human personification of the Big Bad Wolf in "Freeway." Yet there may be no role he's better known for than the dedicated, determined counterterrorism agent Jack Bauer in the TV series "24." In fact, Sutherland's work as Bauer is so indelible that we often still think of him as a figure of authority. It's an expectation he uses to great effect in his latest movie "The Contractor."

As Rusty, the owner of an elite private military operation, Sutherland is the face of hope for Chris Pine's recently discharged Special Forces veteran James Harper. Harper quickly trusts the magnetic Rusty, and so does the audience, making it even more shocking when Harper finds himself on the run and fighting for his life after his first mission takes a turn for the unexpected.

Yet while Sutherland's natural authority and charisma are a perfect fit for Rusty, in a conversation with Looper, he explained that wasn't why he decided to take the role. In fact, Sutherland explained that he always chooses his projects with one thing in mind.

It all comes back to story

After a long career in Hollywood, Kiefer Sutherland has the freedom to select the movies and TV shows he wants to be a part of, and he adheres to a simple rule of thumb when making his choices: "The reason why I choose one job over another is always going to be the story," he revealed. "Once I find a story that moves me, I almost don't care what character I play, I want to be a part of telling that story." He noted that he stuck with these parameters when he decided to appear in "The Contractor." "This was no different. I'm a huge fan of the genre of a thriller, and this was written as an A+ thriller," Sutherland stated.

The actor also appreciated the opportunity to be part of a film that explored the difficulties career military face when they return home. "["The Contractor"] also dealt with some things that I wasn't very familiar with," Sutherland shared. "I wasn't that knowledgeable about the unceremonious dismissal of soldiers when they're past their due date ... as [Pine's] character was, leaving him incredibly vulnerable. I also wasn't aware that there are contractors out there that are trying to pick up the brightest and the best that the Special Forces had to offer and use them for private contracting around the world for private corporations. That was an eye-opener, and I wanted to be a part of the film because I thought that those were important things to shine some light on."

But while Sutherland was fascinated by the film as a whole, he was also drawn to the role he played in it. "The part that was there for me was being this big brother," Sutherland observed, "painting this utopian world, where we could live and do what we love doing, and we'll do it for the right reasons. He's not entirely genuine about that — and I don't want to ruin the film for anybody — but I thought that the predator who's taking advantage of an emotionally vulnerable person, he thinks he's doing it for the right reasons, too. It's an interesting duality to play as an actor, but again, I was excited to be a part of the whole film."

"The Contractor" is now playing in select theaters, and is also available on demand and for digital purchase.