- Interview by Thief12 (Carlo Giovannetti)
Nicole Burke is an American who worked as a second and first assistant director on 24 from Season 1 to Season 8. Initially aiming to be a lawyer, Burke was drawn into the Hollywood world when her father got her her first job right out of college. After several years, Burke became an assistant director in shows like High Tide, Sports Night, NightMan, Beverly Hills 90210, and Martial Law.
In 2001, Burke started working on Season 1 of 24 and committed herself to the show for the next 9 years, remaining in it until Season 8. Burke started working on the show as a second assistant director, but eventually raised through the ranks to become a first assistant director. After the show's "ending", Burke has continued her successful career working in shows like Hawaii Five-0, Awake, and Touch, among others. Wiki 24 interviewed Burke to know about her life and career, her experience filming 24, and what is in store for her.
The following session of questions and answers was done by email and Twitter. The interview was posted on March 1, 2015.
Wiki 24: According to IMDb, you studied Communications at Arizona State University. How did you first get interested in show business?
Nicole Burke: My father was a stuntman and then became an assistant director, and my mom was a stand-in. I wanted to go to law school, but my dad got me my first job out of college, and I got sucked in. I was a stand-in for 3 years, then a PA (production assistant), and then became an assistant director.
W24: Any actor/actress or director that inspired you from the beginning?
NB: Actor James Earl Jones and Elizabeth Montgomery. I had the great opportunity to work with them when I first started in TV.
W24: What draws you to a TV show or project?
NB: In the past, it was people I had worked for. Now I get calls based on my experience.
W24: How did you end up working on 24?
NB: The 1AD (First assistant director), Richard Rosser, I had done two pilots with him. He had already worked with the producer’s on a previous series.
W24: What did you think of the show’s real-time format?
NB: I loved the real-time format, but after I went on to other projects, I had to realize the time cuts.
W24: As a [first assistant] director, any favorite episode or moment during the 10 years you spent on the show?
NB: I have to say Season 5, episode 7am-8am. It was the best script, even from reading the first draft. We killed so many of our regular cast, plus the show won the Emmy for Best Series, Kiefer [Sutherland] won for actor, and Jon Cassar and our team won the DGA (Directors Guild of America Awards).
W24: Any funny anecdote or memorable moment during filming?
NB: Thinking back, not a lot of funny moments because the show was so dramatic. But in Season 3, Bauer cuts off Chase’s arm, and during one of the several takes, the arm flies up and hits Kiefer right in the face.
W24: How would you describe the overall experience of working on 24? Was there any particular cast/crew members that you became close friends with during filming?
NB: Not enough space to write. Most cast and crew will never have the experience that the 24 crew had. We were a tight-knit family. I’m very close to Jon Cassar, Rebecca Gaither and Scott Remick who were my 2nd AD’s. A few other crew who are also my close friends, Richie Metcalfe (grip), his wife Jenny Kay (publicity), and Audrey Futterman-Stern (hair). From the cast, I still keep in touch with Mary Lynn Rajskub, Kiefer, Annie Wersching, Sprague Grayden. 24 was a real family.
W24: You worked on the show from 2000 to 2010, more than any other show you've worked with. Was there ever a time that you felt tired, or wanted to quit?
NB: I worked from July 2001 to April 2010. From the moment I started, I said to my AD (assistant director) Rebecca "The only way we are ever leaving this show is if we get fired". Never did I ever want to quit, but tired? Every year around episode 18, we were all fried!
W24: Were you approached to work on 24: Live Another Day? Or was there a particular reason why you weren’t involved in it?
NB: Kiefer asked me to be a part of it, but because of the cost and the London tax incentive, it didn’t make sense to take me. They have plenty of qualified crew in London. I was disappointed, but everything happens for a reason.
W24: In 2012, you worked with Carlos Bernard on a short film that was written and directed by him. How did that collaboration occurred?
NB: Carlos called and asked me to be a part of it. It was his first time directing, and he wanted as many of the 24 crew around him. He did a great job.
W24: How was it working with Carlos? Did he pull any pranks on you?
NB: Carlos is always fun to work with. He is a prankster, and you need to ask him about the all-time prank he pulled in Season 4!
W24: Carlos Bernard’s Season 4 prank has become infamous among 24 fans. How did everyone react? I know Mia Kirshner wasn’t very happy, but what about Jon Cassar, or anyone else you remember not being quite happy with it??
NB: The season 4 prank that Carlos pulled off was priceless. Not at the moment, but when it was all over. I don’t really want to go into details, but it will always be a great story to tell, especially when Jon Cassar tells it.
W24: What is the next step in your career? What projects do you have in the near future?
NB: I just finished a series with David Duchovny for NBC called Aquarius, set in 1967. We’re waiting for an airdate, but hopefully it will be during the summer of 2015. I am presently working on a new Amazon series called Hand of God, with Ron Pearlman and Dana Delany. I have this and 2 more seasons to have 20 years in the Director’s Guild, and my next step is to line produce!
W24: Finally, any particular director, actor or actress that you dream of working with?
NB: I would love to work with Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench.
W24: We'd like to thank you for your time, and wish you lots of success in your career.
NB: Looking forward to reading the article. Thanks for thinking of me. Best!