Some of the best roles on the television series 24 have gone to women, who occasionally play strong supporting roles, especially in the grand scheme of the overall storyline.
While many of these actresses are not household names, I wanted to focus on my favorite Actresses who appear in 48 our fewer episodes of 24 from the first 6 seasons (144 episodes).
Believe me there are certainly quality characters and performances left out (Julia Miliken, Sarah Gavin, Nadia Yassir, Marie Warner, Erin Driscol, Teri Bauer, and other fabulous characters and performances)
10. Marilyn Bauer (Rena Sofer)
Sofer, also in Heroes (Nathan Peterelli's wife) is a very commanding actress. She certainly has a different look and style that is capable of being a powerful character just by being in the camera shot. Her role has the potential to be melodramatic yet she played a unique role with command, control and mystery. I'm not sure what role she may have in futre episodes or seasons, but her character has it's own line of complications, and I still believe there are mysteries about her to be unveiled in future episodes.
In only 7 episodes, the first lady of Russian president Yuri Suvarov, plays an important role a couple of times. Her character is interesting, and she plays it so convincingly. It's some times too bad that the story doesn't take place in Russia. Martha Logan's character simply would not work as well with out the interaction between Anya and her.
8. Kate Warner (Sarah Wynter)
I always wanted her role to be more. Her sisterly/motherly role is very interesting and she is an interesting 24 female, namely for some of her "weaker" character qualities. I love the scene when she goes into the Mosque to identify the terrorist. You can feel the fear and anxiety in those moments. While her screen sister Marie also has an interesting role and does a good job at her part, Kate's subtly and multi-faceted performance really sets her apart.
7. Mandy (Mia Kirshner)
Mandy may not have a last name, but she makes a huge impression as she opens up episode 1 of the first season. A skilled woman who will work for anyone for enough money, Kirshner is perfect casting, and her appearance at any point, in any season gives viewers a sense of pure evil in a woman with far too much secret agent talent. Never has a nasally girl been so scary.
6. Karen Hayes (Jayne Atkinson)
While some of the female characters end up degenerating into cartoony charictatures, Karen Hayes is a believable and sympathetic character. Especially when she is a member of the cabinet in season 6, she portrays the strong make-it-happen character that makes the white house scenes far superior to the CTU scenes. Her ability to accomplish impressive feats without torture or bribery is impressive.
5. Lynne Kresge (Michelle Forbes)
After season 1 there is a game that you can't help playing, which is the "is he evil or is he good" game. Like many characters her desire to use protocol causes significant conflicts between her, Jack Bauer and President Palmer. Yet the best interactions are certainly the one's she has with Sherry Palmer when she is brought in to assist David. Lynne also is one of the first women to clash head to head with white house staff (Eric Rayburn) and get frustrated when her ability to be in control is comprised.
4. Martha Logan (Jean Smart)
What a well executed performance. By the time she's first lady, the white house is pretty messed up and she's one crazy presidential wife. Certainly a different type of character than power-hungry Sherry Palmer. When Jean Smart is on the scene in season 5, your are just captivated by her character and her performance, sometimes you feel like she is so crazy and mean, and other times you feel so sympathetic for her...sometimes you feel both feelings in the same episode. I love her first scene when her hair is made up and she dips her head in the water because she doesn't like it. Her sexual manipulations and interactions are a little bizarre, and her scenes with the Russian first lady Anya Suvarov really give a full rounded performance and character development.
3. Sherry Palmer (Penny Johnson Jerald)
If there was just one season of 24, Sherry Palmer would place at the top of the list. Unfortunately some of her character returns end up being cartoonish after the first season. Yet you can't deny that David Palmer's character is simply not interesting with the antagonistic challenge and pulling of Sherry Palmer in his life. The power that Ms. Palmer has as a character and onscreen is incredible. Her performance is unforgettable, and even in episodes and seasons where Sherry is not in the picture her past and presence still has power.
2. Nina Myers (Sarah Clarke)
In season 1 you have really no idea what type of ride your getting into. And the writers and Sarah Clarke use that their full advantage. As season 1 develops you can't help but replay the early scenes with Nina in them, as you piece together the story and begin to understand what type of web 24 is going to pull you in on. Clarke does an exceptional job of taking you there, by playing the scenes in a convincing way that let's you follow the story you think you're watching, but also in a way that upon later reflection lets you realize that Nina's biggest trick was the one she was playing on the audience. I can't imagine anyone else playing this role.
1. Dina Araz (Shohreh Aghdashloo)
Season 4 is probably the weakest season, but none of it can be blamed on Aghdashloo. Aghdashloo essentially plays the same role she played in House of Sand and Fog (for which she received an academy award nomination). Yet the reprisal of role does not diminish it's power. I love her sweet-gentle-evil and her interaction with Jack and her son Behrooz. After each episode she was in I couldn't help pretending I was Dina Araz talking with a creepy-calm middle eastern accent with intense an unflinching eyes. Dina Araz is a powerful and scary woman, and Aghdashloo plays the part pitch perfect.