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My encounter with actor Kiefer Sutherland at the airport

I approach the actor with stealth, as befits the star of the TV series, ‘24.’

(Page 2 of 2)

13:20 Bauer spies the same woman he saw earlier lunging toward him like an alligator at a rib joint. Where is security when you need them? How can I send out a distress code? Bauer takes his cellphone out of its holster and speaks into it in a muffled voice. He hopes this clever diversion will fend her off.

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Maybe he sees me coming. He’s on his cellphone. It’s different than mine. I always have to shout into my mouthpiece. He whispers so I can’t hear a word he’s saying, although I’m trying. Desperately.
This gives me time to think about how I should start the conversation. Canadians are not known for taking risks, and I don’t want to ask the wrong question. I’d like to know how he felt spending time in jail last summer (for drunken driving), but that doesn’t sound like the right icebreaker. “You won’t do it again, will you?” This sounds like a mother’s question, and I want to play down the age difference. Instead I try to act like his Hollywood agent: “Hi, Kiefer, I have something for you,” I say when he finishes his phone call.

13:23 Bauer braces himself. Not another vial of poison. Or worse, is this woman, who is almost old enough to be my mother, going to gush all over me?

I fumble to get a business card out of my back pocket.

13:25 He takes it.

I explain that I had been trying to find a way to contact him. “My friend has written the great Canadian novel, ‘The Lightning File.’ It’s about a Toronto journalist who stumbles onto a terrorist plot in Canada.”

13:26 Bauer feigns interest, knowing valuable intelligence often comes in unusual ways.

I emphasize “Canada,” hoping that might intrigue him. He is, after all, the grandson of the famous Tommy Douglas, a former premier of Saskatchewan. “I thought you’d be perfect for the part.”

13:27 “Thanks, I’ll be sure to look it up,” he says.

I start babbling about how great he is, how surprised I am that he doesn’t have any bodyguards or PR people with him, how everyone thinks it’s so cool to see him, even though they aren’t saying it to his face (more Canadian reserve).

13:28 He smiles.

My knees stop clanking.

13:29 “Nice meeting you. Have a good trip.”

When I find my seat on the 747, I can’t believe it. The guy next to me is the one Kiefer had been chatting with coming out of Immigration. I’ll get to meet the next costar, after all. Or maybe not. It turns out the guy is just another fan like me.

“We talked about how unbelievably slow Immigration was,” he says of his encounter with the actor. “It was amazing. He was like a regular guy.” Except, perhaps, for all those names.