Cherry Jones Q&A

Another season, another administration takes over on "24." This time the president is played by Cherry Jones. She spoke with Ramin Setoodeh.

Congratulations, Madame President.
Well, thank you very much.

Are you filming now?
I actually just left the set. We're all hugging each other a lot these days. It's almost over after 15 months of being together.

So I take it you survive the season?
[Laughs] I don't know.

Did you have to audition to play the president?
I didn't. I got a call from my agent saying they wanted to meet me, I grabbed a couple episodes from the first season and was immediately hooked and fell in love with Kiefer Sutherland. It was the last thing in the world I saw coming. I haven't ever done television. I joke that I'm the only actor in New York who hasn't done "Law and Order."

Are you getting recognized yet?
No, not yet. I like to think that I look like such a different person that maybe I'll be spared a little bit of that. I've always enjoyed anonymity.

But everyone watches "24."
I'm so stunned by the demographic.

Were you ever a fan of the show?
I'd been curious about it, because I remember hearing about it before it aired. I was interested in the conceit. It was after 9/11 and there were a lot of questions as to whether it was going to be aired. But because I work at night in the theater, I don't watch a lot of television.

Don't you have TiVo?
I just got it.

Did you model your president after Hillary?
No. If I had to say what the aggregate is for my character, it's more Eleanor Roosevelt, Golda Meir and John Wayne. I think the common denominator there is lack of vanity.

What about your Oval Office?
It's prettier than George Bush's.

Have you been inside the real Oval Office?
No. But I've seen that picture of George Bush and Barack Obama taken from the fireplace. My first thought was this is so amazing. My second thought is my office is so much nicer. My desk is bigger.

Do you think we'll ever have a gay president?
Absolutely. I think that will probably take some time. If a gay candidate with the charisma and the ability to communicate pops up on the scene at a time when we need them, certainly after the tremendous response that Barack Obama has received, it bodes well for any American regardless of gender or race or—I hate the phrase "sexual orientation."

You do? Why?
It's just so technical. Sexual orientation—it sounds like a class in high school or something.