Kiefer Sutherland’s ‘Designated Survivor’ Casts Kal Penn, Maggie Q, Natascha McElhone and Italia Ricci

Kal Penn Maggie Q Designated Survivor
Stephen Lovekin/Variety/REX Shutterstock/Matt Baron/REX Shutterstock

Kiefer Sutherland’s new ABC thriller, “Designated Survivor,” has cast Kal Penn, Maggie Q, Natascha McElhone and Italia Ricci as series regulars, Variety has learned.

The drama landed a straight-to-series order in December. It centers around Sutherland’s Tom Kirkman, a low-level U.S. Cabinet member who finds himself unexpectedly appointed President after a terrorist attack kills everyone above him in the Presidential line of succession.

Penn has been cast as Seth, a White House speechwriter who has his doubts about Sutherland’s newly-appointed POTUS; Q will portray Hannah, the FBI agent in charge of investigating the bombing; McElhone is Jessica, Tom’s wife and an attorney for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; and Ricci will play Emily, Kirkman’s chief of staff before the bombing.

The Mark Gordon Company is serving as the lead studio on production, co-producing with ABC Studios, plus Simon Kinberg’s Genre Films and Entertainment 360. Entertainment One will handle international rights. Executive producers are Sutherland, Kinberg, Aditya Sood, Susan Bymel, creator David Guggenheim — who penned the script — and showrunner Amy B. Harris. Nick Pepper and Jacqueline Sacerio are the execs in charge, and Paul McGuigan will direct the pilot.

Penn will also receive a consultant credit on the project, having previously served as Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Engagement for President Obama. He’s repped by UTA, Industry Entertainment and Fuller Downs. Q is repped by CAA, Untitled Entertainment and Broder Law Group; McElhone is with Paradigm, Mosaic and Myman Greenspan; Ricci is repped by ICM Partners, Protege, Coast to Coast and Felker Toczek.

For detailed information on all of this year’s pilots and series orders, see Variety’s Pilot Scorecard.