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'24': Carlos Bernard talks about Tony Almeida's turn for the worse

April 13, 2009 | 10:38 pm

Tony 1 Tony Almeida may have come back from the dead, but he's not coming back from this.

We could deal with Resurrected Tony's shaved head, that questionable patch of chin hair, his temporary alliance with the baddies who revived him. But you don't snuff out the good guys and live to tell about it on "24." (When Jack Bauer killed CTU director Ryan Chappelle – his upstanding if insufferable boss – in Season 3, his hand was forced by a terrorist.)

No, in tonight's episode, Tony not only made off with a WMD of his very own, he murdered FBI agent Larry Moss to get it. Larry, who was finally getting behind Jack's effective if unorthodox ways. Larry, whose eyes bugged out in terror as he was choked to death by Tony the Traitor. It was almost as bad as watching Edgar's pitiful demise.

For now, Tony's moves are suspect. Even in Jack's weakened state, we all know he's Tony's match. Jack tazes phones, knives sources who won't give him answers and bulldozes his enemies. Literally, not figuratively. We try to pry more information out of actor Carlos Bernard about Tony's about-face and whether he’ll live to see Day 8. Unfortunately, Bernard is a formidable opponent:

After tonight's episode, Tony is dead to me ... but I still want to know what his deal is.
Um, well, I can’t really tell you what’s ultimately behind his actions.

Still pissed at the government for Michelle's death, I presume? 
I think he’s motivated by still being stuck in a place of anger and resentment. He still feels betrayed by the government.

So this has all been one big setup? The whole time he was just playing poor (now dead) Bill Buchanan?
Yeah, this has been his plan.

That's pretty evil. Did you know Tony would turn out this way when the producers told you they were bringing him back to life?
We knew it was going to go in this direction, yeah. How it was actually going to play out, you never know. It’s such a complex show to write. They’ll map out where they think a character is going to go and see if it actually plays with the story. But it was always in the back of our minds that this is where he was going. It was just a matter of how he was going to get there over the season.

Did that make sense to you? Jack Bauer’s wife was killed too and you don't see him taking it out on America with biochemical weapons.
It felt very organic, oddly enough. (Laughs) As an actor, you can’t judge your character. The only way I have to go about it is to put myself in the situation of the character and the circumstance of what he’s been through and play it. Is he a good guy or bad guy? That’s up to the audience. But for me? If I were to judge? It made perfect sense.

Tony almeida How so?
As the rest of the episodes play out, I found myself completely on Tony's side as far as what he believed he was doing. It’s very strange.

That sounds kind of scary.
(Laughs) It is a little scary, yeah. I can’t go into what goes on in the episodes to come but I remember when we were done shooting, and all of the producers had seen the final cut of the final episodes, one of them looked at me funny and asked, ‘Did you believe what was coming out of your mouth?’ And I said, ‘You know what? Absolutely, I believed it. It made sense to me.’

Is it safe to say there are other things Tony's pissed off about? Not to belittle Michelle’s death…
There is more to it than that. I just can’t spell it out.

I read in Entertainment Weekly that in the upcoming episodes “Tony finds time for some nookie.” Explain.
Well, I wouldn’t say he finds ‘time for nookie.’ I would say that there’s a character that is revealed who Tony's involved with. Not a familiar face, someone new.

What is his end game? Is he going to cross paths with the season's other sneaky villain, the president's daughter Olivia?
There’s no crossing paths with Olivia. It’s so frustrating, probably more so for you, as far as these interviews go. I can't say what else he's up to. Honestly, the other hard part about talking about this now is that we shot this season so long ago, it's hard to remember what exactly happens. I don’t watch the show either, so....

You don’t watch? Because of last season? You need to jump back in. It's so much better this year.
That’s good to hear. (Laughs) No, I’m not great at watching stuff I’m in. Also, I already know what happens -- even though I can’t remember what happens right now when you’re asking me about individual episodes. (Laughs)  I know how it turns out and that sort of takes the fun out of it. I think the last season I watched was the second season and that sort of took me over the edge. I’m just not good at watching myself.

But you're aware that this is a major resurgence for the show.
I know that just by reading the scripts and by what we were doing on set. I definitely got the feeling that this was going to be one of the stronger years for the show, if not the best.

Why?
I think the story got more personal again. I always felt like '24' was best when it was rooted in the characters and not trying to outdo itself with big crises. It’s like the bombs were getting bigger and bigger and the crises were getting bigger. I think it’s better when it’s told on a smaller scale. The first season was like that and this season reminded me of that first season in the way it plays out.

Also, I just think we’re probably one of the few if not only show that was helped by the strike. What the writers do on this show is just crazy. On a regular year, they’re writing up against the gun and like a Rubik’s cube, everything has to fit together. The strike gave us a whole extra year to stop and go back and rewrite things that weren’t working, reshoot things we weren’t happy with. It just gave us the amount of time that the show should take.

It’s been quite a comeback so far.
Those of us who have been there from the beginning, this is our baby, we really care about it. We know what a big commitment it is to watch 24 episodes of a show and we really value the fans’ commitment. I wasn’t there for the sixth season, but I know people were a little disappointed with it, and I think everyone came back with a vengeance to bring the show back to the way it used to be. Back to as good as it should be.

Can I ask you if Chloe will be back?
Yeah, she’s coming back.

As an adversary for you, no doubt.
She’s obviously going to be … oh boy. (Laughs) She’ll come into play. She comes back, and she’s in the mix. Now I’m trying to remember why she comes back. Aren’t I a great interview?

That's enough of a spoiler to tide me over. Do you think, knowing how this season ends, Tony will be back for Season 8?
Well, that’s just a crazy question! Day 7 isn't over yet! But I say there’s room. He came back from the dead, so, sure, why not?

-- Denise Martin

Photo credit: Fox

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