Talk about a cliffhanger! After a months-long wait to see whether 24 would live to see another day, Fox on Thursday renewed the gripping drama, which wraps up its first season tonight. But even more thrilling for cast members — like Leslie Hope, who plays Teri, the most beleaguered wife in TV history — is that despite rumblings, the enterprising series will retain its real-time approach for season two.

"Thank God that they're actually going to keep the format," Hope tells TV Guide Online. "The fact of the matter is, I know it's difficult for the writers to work it, but it jacks the show up to another level. Without [the countdown], you're reduced to being an ordinary TV drama.

"But what I don't know" about 24's next season, Hope adds, "is who from this year will be back."

Indeed, spoilers about this evening's finale are scarce. Hope, though, is game to offer a small preview. "What I can tell you is that, yes, I do get out of that CTU conference room," she laughs, noting Teri's recent confines. "That horrible, metal room!"

Considering that her character in the first 23 hours braved kidnappings, rape, a medical crisis and the news that she is pregnant, it's an understatement when Hope remarks, "It has been quite a day." In fact, she admits, Teri's brief bout of amnesia was just what the doctor ordered. "As difficult as [the amnesia] storyline was to process as an actress, it was also a huge relief. I didn't have to carry 14 shows' worth of drama behind me. Teri could forget for a while!"

Hopefully, the 24 cast won't be forgotten when Emmy nods are announced in July; early buzz is already swirling around Hope, as well as TV husband Kiefer Sutherland. "This is my first time ever being close to consideration," she humbly notes. "Creatively and personally, 24 has been one of the best experiences I've ever had. I've done press for shows that I thought were crap where I had to 'reach' for an answer, but I haven't had to lie for this show — well, except about what I know!"