Ricky Schroder, 36, has traded his silver spoons for heavier artillery to play CTU agent Mike Doyle on 24 (Fox, Mondays, 9 ET/PT).
Schroder took a break from shooting the series to chat with USA TODAY’s about goats, his favorite Jack Bauer torture scene and why he might start using his iPod.
Q: What lured you back to network TV?
A: 24 is a great action show. I’ve never really done such great action — running and jumping and explosions. I’ve done intense interrogations with NYPD Blue, but the action of 24 really appealed to me.
Q: We realize it should be shrouded in secrecy, but can you tell us anything about the role?
A: Doyle transfers in under sort of a bit of a mysterious circumstance to help Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) track down the remaining suitcase nukes. He … what can I tell you? He’s pretty militant and straightforward. He’s sort of got this darker side to him. He’s introduced in a way that you’re not sure about him or where he’s going. In about eight shows now, we’ve really sort of made a nice character. It looks like I am going to be here through the season.
Q: You’re clearly a24fan. Do you have any favorite torture scenes?
A: (Laughing) I just remember a scene where Bauer is interrogating a guy, and the guy won’t give him the information and he shoots him in the knee. It was brutal. I have never seen anything quite so shocking. Kiefer (Sutherland) is a lot of fun to work with. He brings so many ideas to the set, and he elevates the material — his ideas and his intensity. After being in (the show) six years, it’s really refreshing to see an actor so committed to working his butt off every day and not phoning it in.
Q: You recently switched your name back to Ricky. Why now?
A: (More laughing) It’s something that I have wanted to do for years, but I never really got around to doing it. Rick never felt comfortable. It just felt like it wasn’t me. It just felt like a guy who was too cool or something. I’m a little more nerdy. Ricky kind of encompasses all of me. It hasn’t really caught on. I don’t think anyone’s even heard about it.
Q: Even when I was given this assignment and looked up your publicist, it’s still under Rick, so …
A: You know, it has been 15 years in the press of people saying, "Don’t call him Ricky, call him Rick." Since I was 18, people have been told that. And it was really never an issue for me. I actually never really cared whether it was Ricky or Rick. It sort of became one of these stories that perpetuated itself.
Q: You’re known for your fairly conservative political views. What’s your take on how the 2008 presidential race is shaping up?
A: Well, gosh. I think we are going to have an interesting next two years watching the candidates build their platforms, and I think that it’s good for the country. It’s good for the world to have a healthy debate. I think it’s all good. The more we talk about it and debate about it, the better outcome we’re going to have. I really have no idea who’s going to be the nominees. It seems like, on the Republican side, there’s a lot more question marks. I think on the Democratic side, it’s more obvious that it’s going to be Mrs. (Hillary Rodham) Clinton. But I don’t know on the Republican; it seems like the playing field is full. It’s going to be interesting to see who emerges.
Q: Is it true that you owned a big ranch in Colorado and recently downscaled to one in California?
A: Yeah. I had a beautiful mountain ranch in Colorado for 16 years that I enjoyed. We had a really wonderful cabin and lots of activities — great memories for my family. We recently parted with that, and I am looking for a new property, probably in the Utah or Idaho area. My career is keeping me busy right now, and I have a small farm in California in the Santa Monica mountains. We have lots of wildlife, and I’ve got a beautiful ocean view. We have chickens and goats and rabbits and dogs. We are talking about getting our first horse up here. So it’s really a great place to live. I can be in the city in 15, 20 minutes.
Q: Has your ranch "gone green" in any way?
A: You know, I’m not sure what that means. … I don’t have solar panels. I don’t have my own water well or whatever you say. I don’t really know what "going green" means, and I think part of the challenge is trying to teach people how they can do their part to help conserve either electricity or water or the other things that we use. But, yeah, I think that if there’s some innovative entrepreneurs out there who can help teach people how they can cost-effectively help themselves and their planet, I think everybody would be for it. That’s going to be the challenge — figuring a way to get the marketplace and commerce to teach us consumers another way.
Q: What do your kids (four, ages 5 to 14) think of your work? Have they seen The Champ and Silver Spoons?
A: Yeah. I have been a huge nerd to my kids. I haven’t done the cool movies that they like. With 24, I gained a lot of respect. 24 is now, it’s hip, it’s their generation.
Q: Do they watch24?
A: Not regularly. But they just started to now that their dad got a job on it. All of their friends are like, "Your dad’s on 24!" My kids think that’s lame, because kids that never talked to them before, all of a sudden, the kids are like, "Can your dad get me this or get me that?" My kids are like, "Whatever."
Q: With two teenagers, how do you keep them in line?
A: Discipline and love. I think discipline’s really important and lacking in some situations, some families and communities. I think they need to know you love them, they need to know what expectations you have, and the standards and values you keep. And they have to be corrected when they go off track.
Q: You and wife Andrea have been together 14 years, is that right?
A: Gosh. When did I get married?
Q: I’m putting you on the spot. It’s going to be the hardest question all day.
A: I have to go look. Let me see. It’s going to be 15 years. Yup, almost 15 years.
Q: So what’s your secret to success?
A: What’s my secret?
Q: Yes. If there is one.
A: Learning to say your sorry when you screw up. I don’t know — choosing the right woman. That helps, big time. In my mind, I’ve never seen divorce as an option. My parents are together. Her parents are together. You know that old corny phrase, "the grass isn’t greener on the other side." But really trying to believe that and live that. So there are going to be peaks and valleys in everything — in your marriage, in your job, in your life. So just enjoy the peaks and ride out the valleys. Just try not to do anything too rash.
A: Do have an iPod? What’s on it?
Q: I don’t have an iPod. I mean, I have a couple. Doesn’t everyone? But I don’t use it. I need to because I go to the gym now, and I’m tired of listening to morning radio. I want some music! I do have a video iPod, but I don’t use it either.
A: If you do ever take your iPod to the gym, what might be playing?
Q: Yeah, I kind of mix it up. I like a lot of country music. So you might see some Tim McGraw, you might see Nickelback. You might see My Chemical Romance. You might see The Killers. You might see some Billy Joel or some Eagles. It’s kind of a mix-it-up.
Q: Any other projects in the pipeline?
A: I wrote and directed my first movie last year, called Black Cloud. So I’ve got about another three movies in development. There’s a lot of excitement and possibilities in my future with that. But right now I’m just enjoying 24. Hopefully they will enjoy me, and I can keep the world safe for a while longer.