You don’t get answers from the cast or producers of 24. You just don’t. You get stock hints and teases that ultimately mean nothing once they’re transcribed, but it’s hard to get meaningful scoops. But there was one major shocker as the Television Critics Association visited the 24 set on Tuesday (Jan. 16) — new guest star Rick Schroder seems to be credited as "Ricky Schroder" for the first time since his glory years of child stardom.
"No. You haven’t heard? I’m actually going back to Ricky Schroder," he says, while casting ambiguity with a grin and then a pause. "Actually, I’m not joking with you guys. I was Ricky when I got into this business. I was pretty young. And I’m going back to it. When I was 19, my agent at the time said, ‘Go to Rick, go to Rick. It will help you transition to an adult.’ It was kind of a silly idea, because I never felt comfortable with it, but I did it anyway. I’m to the point now in my life that I realize that growing up takes more than dropping a letter from your name and I feel better with Ricky, so I’m going back to it."
It’s at this point that one reporter, actually foolish enough to believe that any 24 cast member will willingly discuss any plot points — major or minor — attempts to ask about his new character. Forget that! How about a little more info on that name change, Ricky?
"I thought it about it for years, actually. Ever since I was on NYPD Blue I wanted to go back to Ricky, but I just sort of never made the decision to do it, but for some reason it came to a head at this point in my life where I wanted to go back to what I became know to the world as and what I’m most comfortable with. Rick felt like a guy who should be on a rowing team at an Ivy League school and Ricky just feels a little more complicated.
And what of the rumors that a dire fate would have befallen anybody to call him "Ricky" in recent years?
"No!" he laughs. "I’ve always liked Ricky. It’s one of those urban legends."
OK. Fine. How about that new role?
"Mike Doyle’s his name," Ricky begins. "He’s a CTU agent and he’s coming in at 6 p.m., which I think is episode 13. He’s intense. He’s serious about his job. He’s very physical. He likes to get information from people by any means necessary."
Can he say if Doyle’s a good guy or a bad guy?
"Ummm… Not really. They don’t tell me much. They really keep their cards close to their vest and so I don’t know where they’re going to head."
That’s not informative, is it? Schroder has shot four episodes already and has at least four more in the cards.
"As long as my run is, I’m happy. Just to be part of something as special as 24 is exciting for me. I don’t know how long it’s gonna last, but I’m OK with it."