LONDON - Kiefer Sutherland admits he had no intention of going back to television after the action-packed "24" ended - but that all changed when he read the script for "Touch."
The U.S. actor was starring on Broadway in a play called "That Championship Season" when he was approached with the script for the science fiction drama.
He was ready to dismiss "Touch" until he found out "Heroes" writer Tim Kring was behind it and Peter Chernin, the head of 20th Century Fox when Sutherland started "24," was producing it.
"I felt I should read it, kind of out of respect to both of those gentlemen. And I did, and I was around page 32 when I went, 'Oh no! Oh no!'" says Sutherland.
The 45-year-old was lured back to TV because, like "24," the show gives audiences something fresh and unique: An international outlook. The first episode alone has scenes set in New York, London, Dublin, Tokyo and Baghdad and features actors from several countries.
"We spend so much time talking and making films and television and our news about the divisive things between human beings, what makes us different," Sutherland told The Associated Press. "It's been a long time since I saw someone approach something from the perspective of, 'What are the things that we have in common?'"
So Sutherland is going from gun-wielding Jack Bauer in "24" to struggling single dad Martin Bohm in "Touch," which centers on Martin's relationship with his 11-year-old son, Jake, played by David Mazouz.
Wrongly diagnosed as autistic, Jake has never spoken, but has an obsessive connection to patterns and an ability to predict events around the world before they happen.
Mazouz was the first of over 30 children to audition but Sutherland says he knew instantly he was perfect for the part.
"They're both stuck together, but because of this lack of ability to communicate, they might as well be a thousand miles away. When I look in his eyes, I would feel that," he says. "What I thought was going to be really difficult and challenging (working with a child) is actually the thing I look forward to the most."
Unusually for a U.S. series, "Touch" will launch simultaneously in many countries around the world.
Sutherland is currently traveling around Europe promoting the program, a trip that has seen him visit London, Berlin and Madrid. The actor might be on a tight schedule but he did have time for a spot of shopping in London.
"I went down to the Westminster Abbey gift shop. I promised David, who plays Jake, that I would get him something from every country we visit and I have to do the same thing for my grandsons," says Sutherland.
Once things settle in with the new TV show, Sutherland will also be squeezing in "24: The Movie." He's hoping to shoot the film later this year but there's still the small task of finding a director.
"I'm still very, very optimistic that we are going to be able to do that, and I've got my fingers, my toes, my legs, everything crossed," he laughed.
"Touch" premieres March 22 in the U.S. on Fox and in the U.K. on Sky1 HD.