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Tuesday 3 October 2006


Interview with Carlos Bernard (as Tony Almeida)

You’re a real survivor on the show.

CARLOS BERNARD: Yeah, been paying off the right people.

Did you know you’d keep going?

CARLOS: In this business you learn that until you’re on the set shooting, anything could happen. Just make sure you’re on the show. There’s no such thing as a certain thing. I personally treated every season as though I’m doing a film and that it’s over at the end of the season. It helps me focus on the present more, it helps me enjoy it more, and it’s really the way we approach the show. We’re doing a movie that year. We don’t know anything for sure until about a month before shooting.

Does that make it difficult with other work?

CARLOS: It does make it difficult with other work, definitely. You have to make your choices and choose what it is you want to focus on, what you want to do, what’s more important to you. Sort of pick your priorities. Last summer it was an extremely short hiatus, and so it was really hard to find projects that were any good that fit into the time period anyway. I had a family situation that was going on, so I didn’t want to leave Los Angeles either. It basically knocked out the hiatus season for me. I’m turning down work that starts in late July—that’s when we start shooting.

Are you still available for Season Four?

CARLOS: I guess so, I guess. This show is my priority right now. I mean, I’m having a ball working on it. If the end of this season comes and my character dies or I’m not asked back, well then, that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

Do you think you’ll only be shot once this season?

CARLOS: They’re going to have to find some other way right? Bullet didn’t work, let’s try something else.

Are you impressed about the development of Tony?

CARLOS: Yes. It’s been really wonderful. I think one of the things that’s so much fun about working on the show is the progression of the characters. One of the fun things for me is taking the period in between seasons, and sort of filling in the blanks for myself as to what went on. “What’s going on his life? Where is he now as opposed to the end of last year?” That allows your imagination to take off. They don’t give us any sort of parameter for what’s going on except for the fact that Michelle and I are married.

Your relationship on the show is unusual.

CARLOS: Right. Nina and my character had a relationship which was a bit nebulous in the first season, but definitely had an impact on the end of the season for my character. It actually comes back into play in season three a little bit. Back to your question about the Tony character, it’s been a wonderful sort of progression for that character, absolutely. I mean when the first season started, everybody thought I was the bad guy and the mole, which was a lot of fun. Even my mom did! Are you kidding me? It’s been a cool journey, and it keeps getting better. The writers have been fantastic about taking care of the character and giving me a lot of fun and juicy stuff to dig into.

How do you get along with Reiko?

CARLOS: As long as I don’t have to talk to her too much it’s okay. No! Reiko? I love Reiko! There’s not a lot of acting going on, it’s not a hard one to pull off for us.

Is it easier to be Tony after three seasons?

CARLOS: Well, from day one with this show, my approach to it has always been this: you never know what’s going to happen at the end of the story. You never know whether a character’s going to end up being a good guy, bad guy, whatever. I always had fun playing both possibilities. In other words, sneaking a little something in there to confuse the audience, or give the directors and producers something to play with as far as story’s concerned. It could be as simple as a glance at somebody. So I’ve always had fun playing with that part of the genre of the show. Using to it to my advantage rather than feeling like I’m hog-tied by it. It allows you to play a bit with it.

Could Tony still be bad?

CARLOS: I think so. Yeah, I mean I think anybody could be. I’m still waiting for the Walsh character from the first episode to come back to life and be a bad guy. Do you remember him? He’s the guy who got killed in the second episode, was like the big boss, right? Mike O’Neill played it. I still think he’s going to be back some day as a bad guy.

Do you feel free to offer suggestions for Tony?

CARLOS: I spend a lot of time talking with the writers, and if the show comes up we’ll talk about it. I don’t like to burden them with ideas of where the character should go. Once it’s written, I’ll go in and say that I think the scene needs to go in a certain direction. And they’re great about taking that input and using it. I’ve actually rewritten scenes and they’ve taken them and used them, that’s how open they are to the collaborative process. It’s an amazing place to work because of that. They have so many things to take care of, so many problems to solve, so many storylines to fill, that my going to them and giving them more ideas would not help the process at all. Any idea I was going to come up with they probably had somewhere anyways. Sometimes we’ll get on the stage and scenes’ll be written in a certain way and it just doesn’t work on the stage. It works on paper but not on stage and we need to fix it.

How do you handle being named a sexy actor?

CARLOS: It’s flattering in a sense, but all my friends in Chicago give me so much grief. Could be worse, right? (laughs)

Is it hard to remember your character is hurt?

CARLOS: Well the last reason, it was real, I dislocated my ankle playing basketball, so that wasn’t hard to remember at all.

Longest dislocation on record?

CARLOS: I had screws put into my leg and the whole nine yards. And had to stay in a cast without putting weight on it for three and a half-months. Then I had surgery again to take the screws out. So it was a big deal.

So Tony’s not accident prone.

CARLOS: Tony’s not, but I am, yeah. So far so good this year.

You just have a wounded neck.

CARLOS: Right, which is lovely.

Thank you.

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment


TONY '24' BACK 9/28/2004

THE last time viewers saw turncoat-agent Tony Almeida on "24," he was facing serious jail time for treason.

His reasons for siding with terrorists against the U.S. may have been understandable — to save his kidnapped wife — but fans of the Fox suspense show ended the season with the reasonable assurance that Tony was gone.

Turns out now that he's not forgotten. Tony Almeida's coming back this season.

The word several months ago was that many of the program's most pivotal characters would not be returning for the new season, which debuts January 3.

"I was always told there were going to be changes, but that I was always going to be coming back," actor Carlos Bernard told The Post, as he prepares to start production on the fourth season of "24" next week. "We had discussions about how the Almeida character was going to be brought back. I wanted to do another season, if the character was put in a new place."

Prison was the most likely place — given his double dealing .

But this week Bernard is more focused on the story yet to be mined from Almeida's past.

"It's not so much about what you didn't find out about the character, it's more about the possibilities with the character," he said.

Bernard's mum on the fate of Almeida's wife, Michelle (Reiko Aylesworth), or even what episode he makes his entrance, saying that kind of advance information migth spoil things for viewers.

"My first impression from the script was 'I love it,' " Bernard said. "You can see change in the character over the third and fourth season, which is always fun to play. You have to fill in the holes of what happened. The way they introduced the character was very cool, in a way I didn't necessarily expect."

The show's producers, aware of the huge popularity some of the show's characters had with viewers, do want to bring those actors back in some capacity for the new season, said Fox spokesperson Chris Alexander, who was quick to add that the program, eager to not repeat itself with key characters whose story lines had run their course, didn't "want to be handcuffed to use the same group of actors."

The show had added some celebs, firing some sparks of their own to the cast, including Oscar-nominated actress Shohreh Aghdashloo, "Third Watch" Kim Raver as Kiefer Sutherland's love interest, and veteran actor William Devane as secretary of defense.



Carlos Bernard Has High Hopes for More '24' Action 21/5/2004


Carlos Bernard has a major role on a hit TV show, yet he's not sure he has a steady job. Bernard, who plays Tony Almeida on Fox's 24 is only too aware that the show's producers can be cold when it comes to killing off its characters.

"What characters will be alive to come back," he says after the Tuesday, May 25, finale that covers 12 to 1 p.m., "that's another story." Will he return?

"I'd love to come back," he says. "From season one, I treated each year like a film project, and that helps me to focus and not to worry about next season."

It sounds as if he has little to worry about.

"Carlos caught everybody by surprise," says Howard Gordon, executive producer. "There was always a consensus of how much we liked this guy. He is really this unsung hero of CTU, this real interesting person. By default, he wound up finding a place season by season."

Actually, Tony came quite close to death early in the third season. Had Tony died then, Bernard would have had "21 episodes of sitting on the bench," Gordon says. But they kept him alive, because, he says, "We love the guy."

In the finale, Tony's relationship with his wife, Michelle, is tested.

"It doesn't end well," Gordon says. "That doesn't mean he dies, but it doesn't necessarily end well. I came to this real strong conclusion that '24' is a tragedy, a Greek tragedy with guns."

The show deals with heavy issues, such as kidnapping, assassination and lethal viruses.

As Reiko Aylesworth, who plays Michelle, says, "It should be taken seriously when you are dealing with issues we are dealing with, whether a nuclear bomb or a virus or a terrorist. You can't wink at the camera on this show, especially with our subject matter. It becomes exploitation if you don't approach it earnestly."

The gravity of the issues keeps the crew somber during taping, but once the director calls cut, Bernard is goofy.

"He is the funniest person," Aylesworth says. "I can't believe he's not doing a sitcom."

Bernard enjoys playing jokes on cast members. Sipping bottled fizzy water at a cafe near Lincoln Center, he relays tricks played on colleagues, both coincidentally revolving around clothing.

In one that still has cast mates chuckling, Elisha Cuthbert, who plays Kim Bauer, arrives on the set with shopping bags from a spree in New York. She wants to model her new clothes for the staff, but a car alarm sounds and distracts everyone, Bernard recalls. During the confusion, he stashes her bags in a trailer.

He later distributes her new clothes among the extras. Meanwhile, Cuthbert goes crazy searching for her bags.

"In the middle of the shoot, she starts noticing all the extras' clothes, and goes up to them," he says, now laughing. "I had already told them to act indignant and pissed off."

Another time a friend of his lands a role on the show and Bernard persuades the costumer to outfit him in Shakespearean togs. Bernard fully expects to be paid back someday.

A few tables away his wife, Sharisse Baker-Bernard, spoons food into their adorable baby, Natalie. Natalie coos at strangers, and is one of those perfect babies who sleeps 10 hours a night and is so easy that she is lulling them into wanting a second baby, whom he figures, would be the opposite.

Bernard seems to figure the odds and not do things lightly, including chasing his dream.

He was born 41 years ago in the same Evanston, Ill., hospital as Aylesworth and grew up in Wilmette, a suburb of Chicago. At the New Trier High School in Winnetka, Ill., Bernard was enchanted and intimidated by a production of "Our Town." Indeed, he cites its alumni include Rock Hudson, Ann-Margaret, Charlton Heston and Virginia Madsen.

Bernard was interested in acting, "but I was so intimidated I didn't tell anybody," he says. "I had grown up watching movies like 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid' and 'The Godfather' and it was such a wild dream that I didn't want to tell anybody because I knew the response would be that I was nuts and they would talk me out of it."

So he studied art at Illinois State University and became a graphics artist. He headed West, settling in San Francisco's bohemian Haight-Ashbury and resumed his studies. Though cautious folks warn artists they need a real trade to fall back on, Bernard is one of the few who used his artistic talents to pay bills as he earned his masters in fine arts from San Francisco's American Conservatory Theater.

Bernard worked on a magazine about musical instruments, designed logos, created brochures and kept going on auditions. "The Killing Jar" in 1996 was his first movie, after a few plays. He worked on "The Young and the Restless" and had guest spots on "Walker, Texas Ranger" and "F/X: The Series."

Working in plays interests him as does directing, but the overall lure is the telling of good tales.

"I grew up being really affected by stories I saw onscreen, and remembering that feeling of walking out of the theater changed," Bernard says. "My main goal is to work as a storyteller, whether my material or others. It sounds like a lofty kind of goal, but I believe the power of storytelling can alter people's perception. I've walked out of a play or a movie wanting to be a better person. My ultimate goal is to be a storyteller."

By Jacqueline Cutler


It's Just a Flesh Wound for '24's' Bernard (12/13/2003)

LOS ANGELES ( On television and in life, actor Carlos Bernard is used to bouncing back. It has been a tough day so far for his character, CTU chief Tony Almeida, on the Tuesday-night FOX espionage drama, "24," which spends an entire season recounting a single day, hour by hour. Of course, they've all been tough days for Tony.

In season one, Tony sported an unfortunate patch of hair under his lower lip all season (hence, his Internet nickname of "Soul Patch"), the result of Bernard's failure to shave before filming the pilot episode.

It turns out that this fashion faux pas could have been much worse.

"You should have seen what they were going to dress me in for the first season," Bernard says. "Oh my God, it was cargo pants and a big, floppy flannel shirt. I'm like, 'Are you kidding me? I think you got the wrong character.'

"Sure enough, executive producer Joel Surnow walks in the room and goes, 'What the hell is that?' I said, 'Exactly.' That could have been disastrous. I'd have been dead within the first two episodes if I'd worn that."

And Almeida found out that his lover, CTU operative Nina (Sarah Clarke), was an evil mole.

"I was duped badly, totally, hook, line and sinker," Bernard says. "I knew nothing. That's a scene I want to see, Tony and Nina together again. I have a strong feeling she's coming back."

In season two, Tony spent a good portion of the day on crutches, a result of a dislocated ankle Bernard suffered while playing basketball. This led to what the actor considers his most embarrassing moment so far in the series, a scene he shot with Kiefer Sutherland (as the beleaguered Jack Bauer).

"The lame fight with Jack was actually going to be a cool scene," Bernard recalls. "They'd written it with us falling down stairs, just a knock-down, drag-out fight. Of course, two weeks before, I dislocated my ankle, so we turned it into, basically, he sneezes and I fall down."

Despite his bad experience with Nina, Tony pursued romance with another co-worker, CTU operative Michelle (Reiko Aylesworth).

"I don't think he's lucky in love," Bernard says. "That's the thing, he does make bad choices, but that's what I love about the show. People make mistakes constantly -- it's great.

"How boring would it be if we were always right? I love that part of it, because God knows, in real life ... I chose to play basketball last year, didn't I? It was not a wise decision."

As season three opened, Almeida and Michelle were married and trying to decide whether Tony should take a job in Washington, D.C. -- and what Michelle would do if he does.

"The marriage part is interesting," Bernard says. "The underlying theme of this season is, can these people have relationships that do these jobs? I think we're going to find that answer eventually."

After a field promotion to head of the Los Angeles-based CTU last season, Tony now is firmly ensconced in that position.

"My take with Tony always has been that it's not a job he ever wanted," Bernard says. "He never aspired to be running CTU, and it's been three years now that he's been running it. There's a part of him that doesn't want to be a desk jockey."

In episode three, which aired Nov. 11, Tony finally got to get outside, as he took off to help Jack catch a teen (Riley Smith) that is the unwitting carrier of a terrorist virus. Unfortunately, Tony's little field trip ended with him getting shot in the neck, and he spent all of episode four in surgery, with Michelle forced to take over at CTU in his absence.

"It's the amazing healing powers of '24,'" Bernard says. "We had a little talk about it when I read the third-episode script. Joel, when he originally told me about it, said, 'You'll probably be in the hospital for about five, 10 episodes. I was like, '10 episodes? Are you crazy?' He's like, 'Well, it's probably not 10.'

"It's a pretty quick healing process that I go through -- not so much healing as mending, get myself put back together so I can get back into action."

As long as Tony didn't die immediately, Bernard likes the idea of his character going through this trauma.

"The injury really adds to what's going on with him. Once I get out of the hospital, the combination of exhaustion, the injury wearing down on my mind, what's going on which I can't tell you pumps up the pressure on me a great deal, because of certain decisions that were made.

"So, there are all these great forces playing into the character. It was great, the whole getting-shot thing, because it just adds fuel to the fire. After all, Jack died and came back to life. If he can pull that off, Tony can get off a hospital bed. I'm telling you, it's the whole cast, not just Tony and Jack. We're the fastest-healing characters in television history."

Bernard also points out that, in the show's backstory, Tony and Michelle have been married for a while now -- so what about the pitter patter of little spy feet?

"We're still waiting to hear, 'Do we have any children, by the way?' Listen, I know these writers better than to assume anything. Sometimes I think these guys go into a room and say, 'What could never happen?' Then they try to make it happen.

"We were saying that next year, I'll probably be like the guy in 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail' with no arms and legs, hopping around. It's a rough job, but somebody's got to do it.

"As long as you live, it's good."

By Kate O'Hare


Fit 24/7: being physically active keeps Carlos Bernard at the top of his acting game ( Oct-Nov 2003)

As Counter Terrorist Unit chief Tony Almeida on Fox's real-time thriller, 24, Carlos Bernard is in tiptop shape to take on the bad guys.

"Yeah, I'm a real tough guy," Bernard laughs.

In this spy fantasy TV show, being involved in rescues and fighting terrorism has taken on real meaning.

"We get to live the fantasy of what might have been," says Bernard.

However, dislocating his left ankle brought the 36-year-old into real-time reality and pain.

"I screamed; it was pretty brutal," recalls the 5'10" actor of his recent basketball injury. "I was going up for a breakaway lay-up and a guy pulled me down from behind. It felt like the bottom half of my leg snapped in half when the tendons popped." It was a not so gentle reminder, to this sports enthusiast, that he's no longer a teenager who can recuperate from injuries in a matter of days. "I took a lot of coral calcium and something for ligament repair," Bernard confesses. "I still take the calcium."

Born and raised in Chicago, Bernard received a Master of Fine Arts from the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. However, sports have always played a big role in his life.

"Baseball was my big sport in school," he reveals. "I played center field all four years of high school and then started playing it in college. But, I realized I was out of my league, so to speak. We had a great high school baseball team that made it to the state finals, but college was a whole different story. Three guys on my college team actually played pro ball and one made it to the majors."

Today, in between 13- to 14-hour workdays and being father to a newborn, Bernard enjoys pick-up baseball games, fly-fishing, judo and golf.

"I have a 10 handicap," he admits. "Sports give me the fun of competition regular workouts don't, an extra focus and something I can improve upon because it's about skills." Although basketball has been sidelined, it hasn't kept Bernard on the bench.

"I still lift weights about five times a week, but when I'm working, it's a matter of fitting it into my schedule," he says. "I try to get cardio through basketball, but lately it's been a challenge, so the stationary bike for 20 minutes has been the best thing. I also run on the treadmill." In addition, he does bicep/tricep curls, chest lifts, sit-ups and crunches. "I also do a few different leg lift machines for the entire leg," he adds.

Not only do regular sports and exercise keep his body toned, but they also help maintain energy levels.

"For an actor, it's really important to maintain your focus and stay sharp, which higher energy levels do for me," he explains. "When you have long days and the last shot might be the most important, stamina and focus are imperative."

Although voted one of People magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People this year, Bernard doesn't take the praise too seriously.

"I think it was a payoff for years of dedication, but don't really think about it that much. You can't control what people think about you," he acknowledges. "Hey, I'm not perfect--I still drink coffee and have a muffin with it. I shoot to eat half of it, but usually eat the whole thing."

Despite the coffee and muffins, Bernard's diet is pretty simple.

"First of all, I don't diet, really. I've cut down on bread and I LOVE bread!" he exclaims. "So I try to eat as little as possible." Instead of sodas, he mostly drinks water. Bernard also enjoys fruits, vegetables and meat. While not a fat gram or calorie counter, he says, "I just try to stay away from fries and stuff I know will put on the weight."

However, all those rules fly out the window when he visits Chicago, which is often since his family still lives there.

"Oh, the food there is something else," he asserts. I'm a huge fan of barbeque ribs, so I eat them almost the minute I get there. The pizza, of course, is spectacular. There's such a wide variety of restaurants and they're all open past 1 a.m."

With the clock continuously ticking on his show, the actor does like to enjoy downtime with a good book, some Dave Matthews Band or Elton John music or any chance to be outside in nature.

On an occasional day off, does he cook dinner for his wife of four years? "Yeah, right!" he laughs loudly. "Right now, honestly, I would be bringing food home."

Bonnie Siegler has covered celebrity fitness for American Fitness since 1990. Based in Playa del Rey, California, she is an internationally known writer whose work has appeared in McCall's, Redbook and InStyle.

by Bonnie Siegler


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