He was born in London, England in 1966 to Canadian actor Donald Sutherland and his wife Shirley Douglas, an actress and daughter of Canadian statesman Tommy Douglas. He also has a twin sister, named Rachel, who looks similar to him. He grew up in London, Corona, California and Toronto, Ontario.
In the 1980s, he was part of a group of young actors called the "Brat Pack" and appeared in movies Stand by Me (1986), The Lost Boys (1987), Young Guns (1988), Flatliners (1990), and The Three Musketeers (1993). In 2001, he starred as Jack Bauer in 24, which was intended as a one-shot mini-series, but became one of the most popular shows on TV. For this role, Kiefer won the Emmy Award for Best Actor in 2006, the Golden Globe for best actor in 2001, the SAG Award for Best Actor in 2003 and 2005 and the Satellite Award for Best Actor in 2002 and 2003. The show had eight seasons before ending, with one movie currently released.