24's Bad Penny

The Lady Macbeth of 24 is back.

As 24 (search) brings its season to a fiery close, the larger-than-life, snake-in-the-grass Sherry Palmer, played by Penny Johnson Jerald (search), has suddenly in the thick of things.

As if accumulating a track record of conspiracy against her husband, the President, weren't enough, Jerald's character now finds herself head-to-head with Jack Bauer (played by Kiefer Sutherland (search)) who pulled a gun on her in last week's episode, uttering "Don't try me, Mrs. Palmer."

It was a confrontation that had die-hard Penny fans smacking their lips.

"Kiefer and I did look at each other right before [shooting the scene] and we just said, 'This is going to be fun,'" Jerald told The New York Post. "Sherry's . . . not used to anyone standing up to her."

Last year's Sherry was power hungry, but this year she has really lost control, says Jerald.

"It's very important she finds herself in good graces -- no matter what it is she needs to do to make that happen -- and prove she's not delusional or amoral," she said.

Sherry groupies have followed the character's relentless fall from grace, from her days as the wife of Sen. Palmer ruthlessly orchestrating his presidential campaign (and ultimately ticking him off so badly, he divorces her).

That seemed to be the end of her until she popped up again this season trying to bring down her ex-husband's presidency. Oh, and did we mention she's just been stabbed by a double-crossed conspirator?

Jerald suggests that in a more ethical world, the politically aspiring Sherry Palmer would have been more like Condoleezza Rice (search).

"Condoleezza Rice is what Sherry Palmer has desired her entire life," says Jerald who, in a glorious twist of fate, will portray Rice in Showtime's production of DC 9/11, scheduled to air in September.

Jerald says in playing Rice, whom she believes could well be the first woman president, she has "found a hero."

"I put the gap in my mouth and the freckles on my face and shortened the hair," said Jerald, who also did extensive research to discover "why this African American is a Republican. I don't want to make a mockery or try to imitate Condoleezza, so I went for the visual change."

Jerald also professes a fondness for Hillary Clinton who has also infiltrated the Sherry Palmer mythology.

Sherry has been affectionately called "Brillary Palmer, the black Hillary Clinton" by many fans, says Jerald.

So how does the Sherry saga end?

Jerald won't reveal whether she's on board for 24 next season, but hints that over the next two weeks "Sherry does have an 'Aha!' moment," as she puts it.

"But whether she does something about that is yet to be seen," says Jerald.