From the Great White Way to the White House

While there won’t be a woman in the White House anytime in the near future, 24 took the reins and elected to cast two-time Tony Award winner Cherry Jones as its first female president, Allison Taylor, who is likely to have everything including terrorists, WMDs, and the kitchen sink thrown at her. Jones sat down with The Advocateto talk marriage, the White House, and her "fluid" relationship with partner Sarah Paulson.

BY Advocate.com Editors

November 21 2008 1:00 AM ET

It seems as though life is imitating 24 in some
ways, like a black president before a woman. What
do you think it will take for America to vote a woman
into the White House? And I’m not talking
about Sarah Palin.
I would think, basically, that all it would take
would be Hillary Clinton running against anyone but
Barack Obama. Seriously. I think, hopefully, eight
years from now, after his very successful presidency,
we’ll have another shot at Hillary, and
she’ll still be younger than John McCain.

Very true. Now, you’ve done extensive theater,
some film, and television here and there, but I think
this is your first recurring television role…
It certainly is.

How has that experience been? I have loved it. I love it and I’ve had
trouble with it honestly, because when we shoot, we
shoot consecutively, scene to scene to scene, so it’s
allowed to build, which is wonderful. Not all television
does that. That’s why they get the performances
they get out of people. What’s been hard this
season is because we had almost five months off because of
the writers' strike and they took almost a month off
to go shoot the footage in Africa. So, with the
extension of the normal shooting season when I go in,
for example, the other day I went in having not been there
in over a month and having to shoot four highly
charged emotional scenes. So, it takes a very focused,
well-prepared actor to pull that off having been away
for so long, and I don’t know if that’s me or
not. [Laughs] I don’t know if I pulled
it off or not.

Oh, I imagine you did. So that’s a challenge I’ve not had
to contend with.

Also, the concept of each episode representing an
hour in a single day, was that a challenge since the
characters aren’t changing over time but
reacting to a harried situation?
Well, the wonderful thing is that in every
single episode the stakes are so high. And I’m
not making decisions for myself and my family. I’m
making decisions for the entire country. And you really do
hit the ground running every time. That’s kind
of fantastic. You don’t have scenes about
whether the blinds should be pulled or not. And
you’re reminded of what these people, our
leaders, are up against, having to improvise. They have
to be brilliant people at improvisation, and hopefully
people who are able to listen to wise counsel. And
then finally, the buck stops there. So, it’s
very exciting for an actor to be given a scene that is dire
and a clock that is ticking.

And do you have any action scenes? Ah. I don’t know that I can say.

All right. I thought I’d try. I wish I could.

You know, I just wanted to know if you did your own stunts. [Laughs] That’s a good way to ask
the question.

I have to ask. Did you base your portrayal at all
around a living politician?
No. Not really. When you’re in that
mock-up White House, because the art direction is so
good, you’re surrounded by your predecessors. I mean,
there’s a gorgeous painting of Jack Kennedy in the
anteroom to the Oval Office, and you feel Roosevelt,
both Franklin and Eleanor, just down the hall. And
certainly Golda Meir has come to mind a couple of times,
mainly because half the time I wish I had one of her
smokes handy in the decision-making process. I have to
say…when I got to deliver the inaugural
address, which was such a kick…I can only imagine
what each of those people standing on that podium
feels in terms of a bond to everyone who’s
placed their hand on the Bible, to everyone who’s
come before them. I studied a lot of inaugural
addresses -- style, and their ability to really
connect to the people, to the camera, and also to the people
who were down below on the Mall. And certainly, Jack
Kennedy’s is one of the greats. And I
appreciate the more formal. It’s not that
they’ve become less formal, but there was that
great formality that everyone had prior to the '60s,
which is thrilling in terms of oration.

Tags: television

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