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27 February 2008 @ 01:43 am
James in the day 6 24 companion...  

And now onto Bill Buchanan's profile. Enjoy!

CTU Profile:
Bill Buchanan

Once you meet actor James Morrison, it suddenly makes sense that there’s a lot of Zen guiding the character of Bill Buchanan on 24. Calm, intelligent and fair, Buchanan has made his mark during his three “days” of directing the Los Angeles division of CTU, by being one of the few top-level suits who is truly the calm amongst the storm. A longtime theater veteran, writer and yoga instructor, Morrison walked into the world of 24 not looking to throw his weight around but wanting instead to be the guy that gets the job done with compassion and honor—truly a rare breed in Jack Bauer’s world.
“I’m sort of amazed at the consistency of him when I look back,” Morrison says as he reflects on the origins of Buchanan. “I didn’t go into [the show] with an axe to grind, and that’s the healthiest way to go into anything, and from a story standpoint, neither did Buchanan. I could have brought that to any of the dialogue they gave to me. If I had an axe to grind or ego involvement, I think that would have translated into the character. But I guess because I consciously fought against doing that, personally in that situation, that was what translated. We bring ourselves to the role. The writers are informed by every actor that comes on [the show] as to what direction to go in with them. They also exploit the chemistry between actors. I think they say that what I bring to the mix is a certain sanity in amongst the dysfunction, and it’s certainly what the story needs for balance,” he says with a smile.
Introduced at the mid-season point of season four, Bill Buchanan came into the chaos of CTU and remarkably didn’t take the battleaxe approach to any of his predecessors, such as Ryan Chappelle or Erin Driscoll. Morrison says being cast and then thrown into the world of 24 was much like jumping onto a speeding train, so it was some time before he established his niche. “After about four or five episodes, I realized that I was in a position of power. We’ve all had jobs where we’ve had bad bosses, those people who have no right being in management. So I just decided I wasn’t going to be a dick,” he laughs. “I made a conscious effort to say, ‘I know what I’m here for and my role is to be of service,’ so I brought that energy into CTU. I’m not here to usurp anybody’s power or create more conflict than there already is. As James, I am here to be of service for the greater good, whenever that may be, but at the same time I know my job, and that’s Bill right there too!”
Over two seasons, Buchanan’s support of Jack Bauer clearly established him as a key ally within the lion’s den of CTU. But it’s always been a struggle for Bill to maintain that position of support amongst the internal CTU political power-grabs and conflicts that threatened his very position over and over again. After a rocky day battling Lynn McGill and initially, Karen Hayes, in the fifth season, Morrison says season six kicked the machinations up to a whole new level when even Karen—now his wife—was thrown into the back-stabbing mix. “I loved being solely in charge of CTU, but my [personal] frustration stemmed from my character’s frustration. I understood the bureaucracy of it all and having to battle the layers of ineptitude and deception; but sometimes, when you are playing a part that has all that stuff, you don’t realize that you are staying in character at a certain level. It doesn’t matter who it is, but if I’m playing a character that’s constantly being challenged by politics and power struggles then pretty soon I’m feeling it all the time because I am invested. Physically, I felt it much more in season six. I felt tired by the time I got to explosion eighteen.” Morrison says that weariness came from keeping up the sense of urgency and intensity that 24 demands in every scene, for every episode. “I’ve never played a character for this long. You might have long runs in plays where you get a chance to deepen it as you go, but your job is always to make it fresh and new. I remember this quote from James Dean, ‘Dynamite only goes off once.’ That’s the sense you have to infuse into every word you utter—so that you’ve only say it that one time—so that’s the illusion. The reality is that you work really hard through practice, repetition and thought.”
A lot of Buchanan’s stress in day six came from the domestic crisis unfolding between him and his wife. The unexpected union of Bill and Karen occurred off-screen between season five and season six, a twist that surprised and delighted many fans. Unfortunately due to the bicoastal nature of their positions as LA Director of CTU and the White House National Security Advisor respectively, their characters didn’t get the level of screen time many had hoped. Morrison also laments that fact and offers without bitterness, “Well I have my theories, which are neither here nor there, about why it didn’t go anywhere. It wasn’t just because we were separated, but for whatever reason the writers weren’t able to devote the time and energy to that relationship. They had to go off and do other things. It’s actually empowering and a compliment,” he continues, “because, after a time, you get that they didn’t have the time or inclination to expend energy on this relationship. So when it comes time to do something with it—Jayne and I had to do it. It’s a compliment because they consider us capable, creative actors with chemistry, so frankly they said we could come up with our own dialogue. I’m not complaining, but I think with the characters of Karen and Bill, because I wasn’t Machiavellian and she wasn’t certifiably nuts, they didn’t have as much fun writing [for us as they did] for Logan and Martha,” he chuckles. “We are workman-like characters that serve the story, but don’t have our own story. We had to come up with that story, basically.”
Morrison gives an example, “In the conversation where Karen fired me, I was in New York shooting a documentary and Jayne was shooting her side of the dialogue [in LA]. I told her I would rewrite my dialogue, and while I would never, ever presume to rewrite another actor’s dialogue, I said, ‘This is what I’m going to say to what you say currently and if you change it, let me know when I get there,’ I emailed her my side of the conversation. We talked about her saying, ‘We need to separate ourselves from one another,’ and then me saying, ‘I’m your husband. How are you doing to do that?’ It was the first time our marriage had come into it and that wasn’t in the original scene. She barely got my dialogue before she shot it and when I got it back, she had tweaked something she had said, so we basically wrote our own dialogue for that scene.”
As always, Morrison says the twists and turns of Buchanan’s day were unknown until he cracked open a script, but giving himself over to the process has become easier every year. “Ultimately, no one says, ‘This is what it’s going to be,’ so your story is your higher power and you serve it; so it tells you, if you are listening, how to behave and it tells you what steps to take next. You can either see that higher power as a hindrance or see it as a guide to enlightenment.” One of the highlights of that process was the mentor-like relationship between Bill and the embattled CTU agent Nadia Yassir. Morrison says, “If you are working with somebody who is open to the same notion, then you open your hearts and minds to the journey. You realize it’s not so much where we are going, but where we are—that is what they call chemistry. Marisol [Nichols] and I, when we first met, realized our discussing it was a willingness to experience it. One pf the first scenes we had that addressed anything personal on any level was when they were restricting her access for being a Arab American. I say, ‘I know it’s f****** up but I can’t really do anything about it now because we have bigger fish to fry. I’m not going to let you down, but you need to get over yourself and get back to work.” Now you can do that like a prick or with love, but if you do it with love, you cannot lose. It’s what Bill is about. As stern and solid and stalwart as he can be, he never loses sight of that,”
But Morrison’s favorite Bill moment of the year came at the very end, when he came out of seclusion after being fired to go out into the field and help save the day with Jack. “My greatest satisfaction came from the journey that Jack and I took through the day. From the beginning when I handcuffed him to that grate to give him up for what I felt was the greater good and his willingness to be sacrificed for it, to the end of the day where we stood toe-to-toe and I say, ‘I’m giving myself up for what I consider to be the greater good.’ He says, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’ We were ale to come back [to a trust] and the greatest thing is that neither one of us had to say that—it just happened. You do your job because you know it’s the right thing to do, so it gave me a great amount of satisfaction. When we are at the helicopter and we both realize we have to get this boy and the Chinese guy, it’s like, ‘I’m with you, man.’
“Another great thing about that moment,” he continues, “is that as characters age in television, and I think it’s essential to realize this is an important story point, and when your hair starts to get grey and you get a little old, you sometimes forget you can fly,” he smiles brightly. “The people who write the stories forget you can fly too. So when Buchanan says to Jack, ‘I’ll fly,’ everyone said, ‘Oh my god, he flies?!’ He had almost forgotten that he flew too! As an artist, you realize that you can fly and you’re flying and there’s no greater feeling in the world. It was so great. It was my favorite thing. So it’s hard to hear people say season six wasn’t up to snuff or that it sucked,” he laughs. “I say, ‘Wait a minute. It didn’t suck. I flew a helicopter, man!’”
Fans also rallied around that moment, relishing along with the actor that Bill Buchanan finally got his moment to shine. Morrison is humbled by the reaction and says, “It’s the coolest thing because you know you’ve been successful when all is said and done, and when people ask, ‘What’s going to happen?’ It’s the greatest compliment you can receive when people go, ‘Wow! Are they going to make it?’ I remember the shows that I love the most, growing up and now, and the ones I remember the most I remember because of the characters. If you aren’t connected on a human level to the characters, you don’t care. Do you care about the container that the water is in or that the water sustains you? So I really feel good about this whole deal. You almost don’t want to let on that you feel so good because you want to be cool, but you ultimately have to say, ‘Wow. I’m so happy this has happened.’”
You know who I am sillies....: Bill shaded profilelnl002 on February 27th, 2008 07:04 am (UTC)
he rocks my face off too!
24fanatic8: I love Bill24fanatic8 on February 28th, 2008 02:15 am (UTC)
You can't help but love James. Both he and Jayne speak with such intelligence and I love the little tidbit about the scene rewriting with Jayne. It's cute how excited he was to have Bill fly a helicopter. lol

Thanks again for typing this up! :)
Liz: Bill Buchanangracekellymovie on February 28th, 2008 02:25 am (UTC)
James just makes me smile. And he and Jayne together are brilliant. I absolutely love them!

I'm glad you enjoyed it! I was happy to do it!
destinylake on February 28th, 2008 02:30 am (UTC)
Thanks for doing this. Love the interviews. They reveal so much about these two actors and how wonderful they are individually and working together.