In the fickle world of acting, making a comeback after your career takes a nosedive is no easy task. But after the global success of his espionage series 24, Kiefer Sutherland managed to do just that. And with a Golden Globe under his belt for his edgy portrayal of secret agent Jack Bauer, the one-time brat-packer is definitely a star reborn.
"I didn't realise I had gone away until I started reading it," he reflects candidly. "I took a year off for myself. The second year was unplanned and then it turned into a third. The industry is not forgiving of people who take that amount of time off."
Hailing originally from London, where he and twin sister Rachel were born in December 1966, the blond hunk comes from a notable acting pedigree. His father is leading man Donald Sutherland while his mother is stage actress Shirley Douglas. It would seem young Kiefer decided early on to follow in his parents' footsteps, as he was just 16 when he ran away from boarding school in Canada to become a star.
It was a risky move, but one which paid off when, at the age of 20, he gave an outstanding performance as a teenage thug in the movie Stand By Me. In the years that followed movies like The Lost Boys and Young Guns made him a major star and a leading member of the new brat pack.
The glory days were short-lived, however, as both his professional and personal life went into decline. "It's a nasty world out there," he later observed. "And Los Angeles is like Las Vegas eventually you lose."
His high-profile engagement to Julia Roberts ended when she left him for his Lost Boys co-star Jason Patrick. His hard drinking and womanising was also generating attention, and after being convicted of drink driving in 1993, the one-time A-lister found himself collecting rubbish in fulfilment of a community service order.
There were also some notable successes, however. He won rave reviews for his directorial debut Last Light, and his supporting role in A Few Good Men was also lauded.
But Kiefer had grown disillusioned with Tinseltown, and decided to throw his energies into another great passion rodeo riding. Having developed considerable saddle skills while making Young Guns and The Three Musketeers, he relocated to a ranch near Santa Barbara and spent nearly two years competing in rodeo events. "It was a lot of fun," he says. "I drove all over the country and I felt like a tough guy."
The time off also gave him the chance to spend more time with his daughter Sarah, from his first marriage to TV producer Camelia Cath. Family is important to the actor these days, and he admits having regrets over his relationship with his own father. "We both struggle with the fact that we have just not had a lot of time together," he explains.
Both Kiefer and Donald who has three other sons from his marriage to actress Francine Racette are now working hard to make up for that lost time, however, and it would seem his father is rather proud of his eldest son's achievements. "Me, I'm an actor," says the elder Sutherland. "But Kiefer is a filmmaker he really is brilliant."