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Carlos Bernard loves saving the day as an agent on `24'
By Kate O'Hare, Zap2it
Published May 20, 2005
On Jan. 31, in hour seven of this season of Fox's "24," things looked pretty bleak for former CTU operative Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) and his girlfriend (Kim Raver), daughter of the secretary of defense (William Devane). Terrorists had them pinned down, and Jack was forced to call on an old friend for help.
Scant moments later, in charged Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard), guns blazing.
Because Bernard was uncredited in the episode, it's likely that at least a few fans -- those who don't haunt the Internet for spoilers -- let out squeals of surprise and joy.
"That squeal thing seems to be a general sort of response," Bernard says. "Everybody was squealing. I always knew I was going to come back. We had it planned that way, how he'd have to come in after five or six episodes because of the way it ended last year.
"So I was happy about that. And you couldn't have a better entrance written for you."
At the end of last season, Tony, then the head of CTU, wound up being carted off to jail for breaking the law to save his wife, CTU agent Michelle Dressler (Reiko Aylesworth), from a deadly virus.
In the years between Seasons 3 and 4, Tony spent six months in jail, was pardoned, got divorced, became a drunk and acquired a skanky girlfriend (seen briefly in only one episode).
While Jack Bauer has absorbed a lot of body blows and managed to stay somewhat consistent in his behavior (except for his brief, scruffy, mountain-man period at the beginning of Season 2), Tony has gone through huge changes that have affected every aspect of his life.
"The thing that happened with Tony," Bernard says, "is there have been a lot of emotional blows. Jack's gone through a lot of physical blows. Obviously, he lost his wife in the first season, and that's a huge emotional blow. But Tony's just been through the wringer."
One thing that hasn't changed for the actors is that they spend most of their 10 months of filming time wearing the same clothes.
"You know what," Bernard says, "I keep thinking, `This is the year that I'm going to pick something that I can live with for 10 months.' And you just can't do it. You just get sick and tired of something after the first month.
"Jack changes. He's the star of the show. The star gets to change clothes. We don't. I think I get two changes this year, so I can't complain about that."
Bernard also had to cope with a new working environment. Over the hiatus, the show shifted from its original San Fernando Valley sets in Canoga Park, Calif., to a new location further north in Chatsworth.
"I felt like I'd been off on some foreign exchange program," Bernard says, "then we started at a new high school, and I was the last one to show up. I was literally getting lost everywhere."
Now that Tony is reinstated in his job at CTU -- morphing from embittered drunk to competent professional in the space of hours -- the question arises of what's next for the beleaguered agent. There are even hints he may reconcile with Michelle, who's currently running CTU.
Fans will find out how it all ends in the two-hour season finale Monday (7 p.m., WFLD-Ch. 32). Although he doesn't know specifics, Bernard has heard rumors.
"I think you'll be surprised how they end it this year. I hear it's pretty cool. It's pretty surprising for television. You're not getting any more out of me. That's all I'm saying."
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