Dec. 27 -- Last season on '24,' when Tony Almeida came to Jack Bauer's rescue, it was only seven hours into the superagent's day but it felt like a lifetime to fans.

Well, everyone can breathe a sigh of relief. Carlos Bernard is back as Almeida for the fifth season of '24,' which begins Sun., Jan. 15. But for how long and in what capacity are being kept under wraps.

Bernard chatted with AOL Television editor Kelly Woo about the "amped up" season premiere, his favorite '24' moments and his status as a sex symbol.

When you first started on '24,' did you imagine it would get to its fifth season?

No, I never imagined that we were going to make it through the first year. Each step of the way, I've been amazed. That first of all it got picked up. Then, we were waiting for that 13th episode to see if we were going to get picked up for the rest of the season and we did. And every year, it's gone on and gotten better.

Tony's surprise entrance last season was one of the best moments from the show.

Can't ask for a better entrance than that.

Fans were really excited when he burst in to rescue Jack. That was a nice surprise. That was very nice, I've heard that a lot. Jeez, we work hard on the show, we work a lot of hours over a lot of months. It really makes you feel good that people enjoy what you're working on.

How much of the storylines do you know in advance?

There are certain things that I know of. Tony's storyline for this year was really worked out between the head writers and myself before we started. So there are major things that I know that I've talked with them about, that are going to happen, but the specifics of it and how it's executed, that I'll get when I read the script.

So what IS going to happen this season?

First episode is pretty crazy. Laughs I can't believe how much goes in the first episode this year. It's amped up a whole 'nother notch. That's as much as I can tell you. Anything else is going to ruin it for people.

But you and Reiko Aylesworth as Tony's wife Michelle Dessler are definitely back at least for the premiere?


Tony's been shot in the neck, he was branded a traitor, he lost his wife. What's it like playing someone with so many issues? It's great, it's really great. That's one of the wonderful things about working on the show. A lot of TV shows, you can get into this feeling like you're on autopilot, like you're almost doing the same episodes over and over again for years. The great thing about this show is every year it's different, the character's in a different place. You can accumulate all those things like you listed that happen to the character, so that when you come back next year, there's a whole other chunk of baggage to mix into the character. It just makes it more fun as an actor.

Do you have a favorite season of '24'?

I really like the third season. I don't know… there are elements of each year that I really love. I had a lot of fun last year. Third season was really great. That would probably be my favorite.

What do you think is the craziest thing that's happened?

I love when the bomb went off, I think that was second season. I thought that was great, that they actually did that. And then they had Air Force One go down. The one thing I love about the show is they're not afraid to take risks and try something most shows would resolve. In other words, on another show, Air Force One would've been saved, would've been rescued. And on this show, it went down. So did the President. Those are moments that stick in my mind.

Do you think '24''s success started a trend of more serialized dramas on TV?

I'd like to think it has. I don't know for sure, but there are definitely a lot more since we came on the air. I remember when we were starting, part of the big thing about the pilot being picked up and renewed was the argument that a serialized drama just won't last. They were worried about being able to syndicate it in reruns. And that's done great.

What's it like working with Kiefer Sutherland?

Kiefer, he's just a big baby. I love Kiefer. We have such a great time working together. I just love him. He's my brother. At this point, we're the only ones left from the first year, that have been here the whole time. And we're just really close and love working together. We have fun together and we push each other.

Did you enjoy voicing your character in the '24' video game?

That was a lot of fun. And that's pretty cool. I think for people who like video games and fans of the show, it's going to be great. You can play different characters and it's sort of a natural for a video game.

What's it like being a sex symbol?

I don't know really... It's flattering, and it's great. Most people come up because they're a fan of the show, because they enjoy the show and my character, and that's always gratifying.

I saw you on 'Celebrity Poker Showdown.' Do you play much poker?

No. In fact, I haven't played since then. I'm not very good at it.

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