As the hit series 24 (Fox) returns to regular episodes starting January 11 after a 20-month hiatus, two-time Tony winner Cherry Jones joins the cast as the new commander in chief, Allison Taylor. Here's her take on acting presidential.
Her first time: "I'm a virgin as far as making episodic television goes. I had never seen 24 in my life, but after I got the job, I became completely addicted. I was a huge fan of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Mission: Impossible when I was a kid."
In character: "Allison Taylor is very progressive; she has moral authority, and she has to make huge decisions at every turn. She is idealistic, which is potentially one of her flaws. She's no pushover—she stares down a few admirals."
Her inspirations: "The Roosevelts, both Eleanor and Franklin, and Golda Meir. But sometimes I feel like I'm starting to play [Taylor] like John Wayne. I have to watch my swagger!"
Playing Politics: "It's interesting that they chose this time in American history to have a woman president on the show. The first season started with Senator David Palmer [Dennis Haysbert], who becomes America's first black president: a strong, honorable man. The white male presidents [on 24] have been real jerks."
Work-life balance: "In the theater, you get only one day off a week. Thanks to 24, I'm able to be with my family 10 days out of every month. My mom had a stroke and my dad has Parkinson's; my sister is at home with them in Tennessee. I've found a great deal of peace in being able to show up at a time when I'm needed. This job is a miracle for me."
From the January 2009 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
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