JUROR #2: Kiefer Sutherland On Board Clint Eastwood’s Courtroom Thriller

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Kiefer Sutherland Juror

Kiefer Sutherland joins cast of courtroom thriller Juror #2

Kiefer Sutherland takes the role of a 12 Step sponsor in Clint Eastwood’s latest project, Juror #2, currently in pre production.

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Clint Eastwood’s latest (and allegedly the last) effort into his lengthy and distinguished canon, is based on a script by Jonathan Abrams which by some accounts had been kicking around Hollywood for awhile. That is rather surprising, since it has an intriguing plot, according to the brief synopsis available. The protagonist is Justin Kemp, the No. 2 juror in a murder trial ‘who seeks to protect the defendant without putting himself in jeopardy,’ according to a reliable source. This tidbit brings up the question of impartiality right off the bat.

But that’s not even the most tantalizing part. Evidently Juror No. 2 is also an active drunk who begins to realize, piecemeal, that he may have played some part in the victim’s death. This slow realization is a terrific device, dramatically speaking, with a lot of creative leeway. Even better, it stands on fairly solid logical ground. While blackouts are not uncommon for active alcoholics during binges lasting anywhere from hours to weeks, ethanol prevents memories from forming during that period. (Interesting factoid: alcohol is the only intoxicant that produces this phenomenon.) The Juror’s gradual recollection suggests a ‘brownout’ instead — something of a stretch, but still a credible one.

In Juror #2, Kiefer Sutherland takes on the role of Justin’s 12 Step Sponsor, and one in reality that is not for the fainthearted. The typical 12 Step sponsor, who acts as mentor cum counselor and walks on the edge of a knife, at best. They try to find the right mix of caveats and encouragement, under very strict traditional 12 Step Program guidelines. Achieving the first goal is the toughest — simply not drinking — and precedes every success that follows, much less dealing with the conundrum that Kemp presents. In this situation, the Sponsor should advise in one way, and one way only: Confess. Period.

But the situation may not be so simple for Juror #2’s Sponsor, whose first duty is the newcomer’s protection and support. A lot depends on the nature of the memories, and what should be Kemp’s typically fragile, first-year-sober psyche. For example, was the Juror friends with the victim? If so, how close were they? And if close, are his recollections shaded with some subconscious doubt or shame? And then, issues of confidentiality, as a juror as well as those in the 12 Step tradition, marks only the beginning of added complications and intrigue — in short, the makings of a terrific movie.

Mr. Sutherland certainly has his work cut out for him; this is a role that could go over the top almost without effort, since a good chunk of the 12 Step sponsor’s formal function is one of prudence. But no worries: here is an actor who has proven skill at imbuing his characters with distinction; this one seems a worthy challenge for Sutherland’s mettle.

Sutherland joins a top-notch cast, including Nicholas Hoult as Justin Kemp, Toni Collette, Gabriel Basso, Zoey Deutch, and Eastwood himself in an unspecified role. And if this is indeed this director’s final film, then realizing the layered themes and emotional depths implied in Juror #2, currently in pre-production, is a fitting swan song to Eastwood’s sensational career. Warner Bros. will distribute the film.

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