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Time rushes towards us with its hospital tray of infinitely varied narcotics, even while it is preparing us for its inevitably fatal operation. Tennessee Williams

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Monday 2 October 2006

Carlos Bernard on 24, Day 4; The 'misunderstood drunk'; Tony's emotional blows (5/14/2005)


From Zap2It:

LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com) On Monday, Jan. 31, in hour seven of this season of FOX's "24" (in which each episode is an hour in real time), 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.Since 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," says Bernard. "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 three and four, Tony spent six months in jail, was pardoned, got divorced, became a drunk and acquired a skanky girlfriend.

"I was a misunderstood drunk," Bernard says. "Let's put it that way. It was a great setup. I didn't know specifically how it was going to happen, but I was really happy about it.

"We talked about the fact that we'd probably pick him up where he was down and out. He was unemployed and divorced and not in good shape. I liked that a lot."

Bernard doesn't appear to suffer from an excess of thespian vanity, since Tony was looking pretty rough around the edges when he first appeared -- which was the actor's choice.

"I felt like he's probably a little soft looking," Bernard says. "He's probably not going to be in the best of shape. I concentrated more on the insides of what was going on with him, but as far as the outsides of him, I thought, cut off his hair, shed some past, and he just wasn't in the best, tip-top shape."

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 two), 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 ringer."

And then there was prison. "And prison, right. Although it was only six months of prison, still it's prison. That kind of stuff changes people. That's why I still enjoy doing the show, because it allows this evolution of characters.

"We have this year-and-a-half to three-year gap between the seasons. Things that happened in the day that was on television and in the show affect the characters. Then there's this time that passes by, in which characters are going to change.

"I love daydreaming about what they do between seasons, how that affected them, and how do they pick up again?"

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.

"I still have to go through negotiations for next year," Bernard says, "so we'll see how that works out. We started to talk about next year, possibilities, depending on how this year ends. That's the thing about it. It's really loose talk because they don't know what's going to happen at the end.

"And really, when you get toward the end of the season, somebody's got to go down. I have lasted this long, but what are the odds of lasting another one?"

Fans will find out how it all ends in the season finale on Monday, May 23. 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."

Source

Tonyís Back: Carlos Bernardís On The Clock (2005)



He plays Tony Almeida, the CTU agent who came plunging back in a surprise twist on Fox’s last season of the critically acclaimed action/drama, “Twenty Four.” A day earlier, he was an alcoholic who was convicted of treason for trying to save his wife and CTU partner, Michelle Dessler (played by Reiko Aylesworth) from terrorists – only to have her dump him because of his burgeoning depression, fondness of alcohol and that rather large ink stain on his resume. Something you think actor, Carlos Bernard, could play on a daytime soap opera, right? Instead, we meet an ambitious theatrical, film and television actor whose commanding performances and abilities to win over audiences withformidable, yet subtle characters like Tony Almeida, has earned Bernard the status of a respected rising star in Hollywood. Carlos Bernard talked with us about some on and off camera tid bits that die hard 24 fans would most definitely appreciate. And those who are still virgin to this show, which publishes one of television history’s most impressive displays of guts and aptitude, will probably want to find out what the big fuss is about. Although he plays best friend to central character, Jack Bauer (played by Kiefer Sutherland), Tony Almeida has increasingly become the mystified, always engaging character credited by rich performances each week by Bernard. My wife, Lisa, and I are glued to our television sets awaiting every perfect hour that ticks by on “Twenty Four.” Come, let us invite you to this compelling world, according to Carlos Bernard.

MT: You grew up in Chicago. What was it like getting adjusted to Hollywood? It must feel like a totally different world.

CB: Yeah, you know what it really is. I originally started off in theater in Chicago, and I decided that I wanted to get some formal training in a graduate program. So I applied at the American Conservatory Theater In San Francisco and went there for three years. When I moved to San Francisco, I immediately felt at home. It’s very much a city like Chicago or New York is, but when I moved down to Los Angeles, it took me about 2.5 years to get adjusted. At first, I couldn’t stand it. I’m used to cities, and it is just so spread out. It’s hard to build your life there, but now I love it.

MT: Now, with the success of “24,” and with it being such a high profile show, have things changed at all? Is daily life more difficult now that you are much more recognizable to the public?

CB: I don’t think so, not really. The great thing about this show is that people only come up and talk to you if they love it, and it has such a high IQ to it that people who watch it tend to be pretty well-educated. They just want to talk because they love the show, and there is nothing wrong with that. It beats the hell out of being on some piece of crap that I am embarrassed about. I’m very proud of the show so if people want to talk and I have time, I’ll definitely talk with them. It is part of the career that I have chosen. So I certainly can’t start complaining if people want to come up and talk to me in the streets. And for the most part people are very respectful.

MT: That’s a good point that you make about the fans of the show. My wife and I sometimes use the shows that we watch as a barometer of judging people. And if they like “24,” they are cool with us, usually.

CB: Yeah right…”You what?… you watch “The Bachelor?” (laughs). Some of these shows are like, “Different Strokes” you know?

MT: Definitely! Do you get to watch much TV yourself, and if so, what are some of your favorite shows?

CB: I don’t watch that many, typically, but I finally joined the 21st century by getting TIVO recently. I watch “Medium.” I used to watch “Six Feet Under.” I’m trying to watch “Rome” I just haven’t been able to watch enough to get into it. I love to watch Jeremy Piven on Entourage because he is having such a great time. Mostly I watch a lot of sports. I am a sports hound.

MT: We really make “24” and event at our house. We live and die by the twists and turns of the show, and being the way the show is everything is pretty much up in the air from week to week. You never know if your favorite characters are going to be killed off.

CB: laughs…They’re not…they’re not safe. That is how it goes on that show.

MT: When you showed up last season on “24” it was an exciting week for us. My wife cheered “Alright, Tony’s back!” Do you ever watch the show and get caught up in the action?

CB: No, I never watch the show. I can’t really watch it because, I’m not really big on watching myself, and also with this show, I get my viewing when I read the script and find out what happens. This show is a lot about finding out what happens, so it kind of ruins it for me to know everything that happens. Every once and a while I check in to see how a certain director did or to see how maybe a certain actor I like does with a role. I definitely appreciate the editing and the cinematography. I love the music that Sean Callery writes on it. He is fantastic. And I really appreciate the different elements of it but I rarely watch a whole show every once and a while I will be curious to see a little chunk of it, but that’s it.

MT: I guess it is anti-climatic once you already know what is going to happen.

CB: Yeah it is…Also, I don’t know how other people are, but I feel like my work is done once I shoot it, and I am not one to site down and watch it once it is on the air. It’s kind of hard for me to do.

MT: We understand, I know you probably can’t confess to any plot twists next year, but frankly we’d rather be surprised any way.

CB: Yeah, I’ll tell you what man, this season starts out like gangbusters right off the bat, it’s crazy…that much I’ll tell ya.

MT: Can’t wait to see it, I’m assuming the way things left off last year, the show will be changing quite a bit.

CB: Yeah, it changes a little bit every year, and this year is no different. No doubt about that. Definitely for my character as well..things change for my character.

MT: What’s it like when the cameras are not rolling? Do you goof around on set at all? Any pranksters?

CB: Yeah, that would be me…I guess I like to screw around, and screw with people. Hell, I like to screw with people when the cameras are rolling. It is a very loose set. When we are shooting certain kinds of scenes it is pretty intense, the atmosphere has got to be focused and it gets pretty intense. But at the same time, when we break from that, the crew and Kiefer and I have been together for four or five years now. Most everybody else has come and gone. But the crew is pretty much the same and John Cassar, who is our main director, has been around since the first season, and so there is a lot of goofing around and giving each other sh*t…pulling pranks and stuff like that.

MT: Any one prank stand out as being a really good one?

CB: We were shooting up in Valencia I think, somewhere north of LA, and I got to work with the actress who plays Mandy (Mia Kirshner). She comes up to me in the morning and says “ I feel mischievous today”, and I say, “Really?” and she says, “Yeah,” “Ok, do you want to play a practical joke on someone?” I ask her, and she says yes.

So I call the police over who are blocking off the street for us and I ask them if they would be willing to play a practical joke on our director, and they say “Yeah, Sure”. I tell them that right around 3:45 p.m., I want them to come up on set where we are shooting by this garage and arrest her for buying drugs in the parking lot. So when they arrest her, I am going to start arguing and I want them to arrest me, too. Well, the whole day was basically scenes between she and I so basically production is screwed if we get arrested. I mean that would cost thousands and thousands of dollars! So, anyhow, right on cue at 3:45, he walks in with his partner goes up to her after the cameras are cut and pulls her aside and says, “Can I talk to you ma’am?”

“Yeah.”

“Our undercover officer told us that you bought some marijuana from him?”

And he starts cuffing her saying “I need to place you under arrest”. Suddenly everybody is like what is going on here. Nobody knew except for myself her, and I told Kiefer because he was in the scene as well. Now all of a sudden John Cassar comes flying over and is like “uh, uh, uh….”

Right before this happened, three producers showed up on set and they are never there. They never come, and it was just perfect, they show up and they don’t know anything about it. They start talking to the cops. And I come over there shoulder and say “What’s going on?”

The officer says, “This lady had admitted to buying marijuana in the parking lot, and we are placing her under arrest.”

And I go “For that? She got arrested for that? This is all you have got to do with your time is arrest little girls for buying marijuana in the parking lot?”

They say “Sir you better step back right now, and the producers start pushing me back, “let us handle this.”

I say “F**k this, you’re screwed, you are going to tell me that you are arresting this girl for buying pot and this is where our tax dollars are going?”

“Sir you better step back right now or I am going to place you under arrest.”

I’m like, “Screw you! You’re an asshole!” (laughs) And we started shouting back and forth, and five guys are pulling me back. Including Cassar, and the place in like, nobody knows what the hell is going on, one producer is on the phone calling back to the studio like “uh we have big problems.” And then finally I tied to pull a camera out and take a picture of John Cassar. And he saw the camera and was like “You, you a**hole” (laughs).

Anyhow, it was really great because after that everybody was in a great mood and joking around. The cops had done such a great job, everybody was like giving them t-shirts and hats, and they were sort of like baptizing them into the group. It was a lot of fun.

MT: I’d never be able to keep a straight face…So you mentioned a little about the demanding schedule is it hard to balance your family life with your work schedule? CB: It’s hard at times. I have a 2 year old daughter. There are times when I will not see her awake for 2 or 3 days in a row unless she is asleep. And that’s hard, but like anything else you get used to it. At the same time I do have a good amount of time off here and there that I can spend with her. I just had about a month off and I was with her constantly, so you just find your time to spend with her, and just make sure that you make that quality time.

MT: So tell us what you can about the upcoming mini series “10.5 Apocalypse.”

CB: It’s a miniseries for NBC that will be airing around Thanksgiving time, it is a sequel to 10.5 that was done last year which was the biggest ratings the network had gotten in about 10 or 15 years for a television movie, and it was actually really well done. And there is a great group of actors in it like Kim Delaney and Beau Bridges. It is basically a what if story, what if a massive earthquake hits the USA? It deals with different parts of the nation being hit by earthquakes where there are fault lines, they are just not active right now. And it is pretty frightening, it’s pretty cool the way they shoot it, it looks pretty wild.

MT: You seem to do mostly very serious dramatic roles, As an actor Is there any particular genre that you like doing better than another?

CB: Yeah, I love doing comedy, I have done a lot of comic in theater, I haven’t done much in TV or film, because once you start doing certain types of roles that is what people think of you for and those are the offers that you get. Really my favorite is, I am developing a script, a film project right now that is sort of a heist movie that is very funny, but very dark, that’s my favorite, a sort of nice blend…you’re never gonna see me on a sitcom. It’s just not my bag.

MT: No, “Everybody loves Carlos?”

CB: (laughing), right exactly… no, never gonna happen . I really am drawn more to film, and that is what I love about 24, because it feels very much like a film the way we work on it. It very much the way you work on a film. And that is the process and material that I am drawn too. But at the same time I like screwing around, I like laughing and having fun. And I love comedies. And who knows, I wouldn’t mind having a career like Gene Hackman - where he does them both you know. I’d love to have a career like Gene Hackman’s. He is definitely one of my heroes. That is a guy who can do everything.

MT: Building on that, who are some of your other heroes in acting?

CB: I love Al Pacino, he is one of my heroes and someone I loved to watch. Denzel Washington is one of the actors today who I will watch anything that he does. Gene Hackman, Paul Newman, I mean “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “The Sting,” that whole era of Paul Newman movies I loved. But those are the main ones.

MT: My wife wanted to find out how it felt to be named one of the 50 Most Beautiful People In America?

CB: Well, that was a lifetime goal of mine, I have always wanted to be on the 50 most beautiful people list…that’s it. (laughs)

MT: Did you flaunt that around set?

CB: You know what, I don’t know. I get a lot of grief about it mainly.

MT: Are you going to be involved with the video game that they are doing for “24”?

CB: Yeah, we have been working on it for about 2 years. It should look really cool. I have seen pieces of it, they have shown me little parts of it as we have gone along and it looks pretty cool, it looks like it is going to be fun.

MT: Is that coming out this winter?

CB: I think I heard February.

MT: We can’t wait to get our hands on that.

CB: Are you a video game player?

MT: Not hugely so anymore, timing wise we don’t have a lot to devote to it but I like to when I can, and that one in particular looked really cool, and my wife and I want to get our hands on it.

MT: Do you get to play your own character from the show?

CB: Yeah you get to be, Jack, Tony or Kim

MT: Oh, okay.

CB: You’d probably want to be Kim

MT: laughs…no comment.

CB: laughs

MT: Are you involved with any charities that you would like us to mention

CB: Yeah I am…One of them is an organization called PS Arts. They raise money for arts programs in the inner cities. Most of these schools in the inner cities have had their arts programs cut, that is the first thing to go, and this is a organization that I have been involved with for a couple years called PS Arts.

MT: Does the cast of “24” ever get together to do any type of charity events?

CB: There is talk of going down to Louisiana over Thanksgiving and taking the whole construction crew down there to work with Habitat for Humanity.

MT: We noticed in your bio that you are a big sports fan, are you able to find much time to play golf etc…

CB: Not really, A little golf here and there.

MT: We noticed that you were on the World Poker tour home game recently. How well did you do?

CB: I won it. I got lucky and I won. The tragedy of it is that I won a $25000 buy in to the World Poker Tour Championship at the Bellagio, but I couldn’t go because I was working that weekend.

MT: Thank you again for your time today.

CB: Sure, it’s my pleasure.

Be sure to watch “24” in their 5th season on FOX, starting in January, 2006. “10.5 Apocalypse” is in production. Check your local listings for air dates.

Tony's Back! (2005)



He sure knows how to make an entrance! Tony is back in Season 4. Check out this interview with Carlos Bernard for some behind the scenes info.

Tony has always played by the rules, whilst Jack has broken every rule in the book, but in the third series, your roles swapped. Was it strange not to be the sensible one?

I thought it was a great progression of the characters. Over the years I think the lesson that the Tony character had to learn was how and when to break the rules, and he learnt that from Jack. I think it was a great place to take the story because for the last three years there's been that conflict between him and Jack about that precise thing.

It's a pretty serious show; does anyone play any pranks on set?

It is a pretty serious show and we're aware of that so we do try and keep it light. There are pranks and the usual stuff you'd expect on set and maybe we're a bit more light-hearted than some shows because as you say, there ain't many laughs when the camera starts rolling.

Who has been your favourite baddie on the show? (i.e. Sherry Palmer, Nina Myers...)

Jack's been a great adversary for Tony at times; they've butted heads in some great scenes. Ira Gaines was a great bad guy, but there's been so many.

What fictional baddy would you love to be up against in 24?

You mean like Mr. Freeze? Haha, I used to love the Riddler and the Joker from the Batman TV series but it'd be pretty weird seeing them in there! We've had so many great bad guys; surprises like Dennis Hopper as Victor Drazen have really kept things exciting.

How long does it take to film an episode and the whole series?

It takes roughly ten months to film a series, and we film two episodes at a time with each two-episode section taking 22 days. That's longer than most shows so there's more care taken and some fantastic camera work, the cameramen are almost like part of the cast with the things they pull off. We normally start filming in July and have about seven episodes in the can by the time the series starts on TV. This series finished shooting in April and it finished on TV in May so by the end we're virtually delivering the show as it needs to go on!

What was it like when the show won a Golden Globe?

Well, you get nominated and you're pleased and you go, "Ah, y'know, it's no big deal if we don't win, it's a privilege to be nominated" but I gotta tell ya, it's was a lot of fun to win! And to be on set the next day and celebrate with everyone, it was a great thing.

Can we ever hope to see a 24 film?

You know there's been talk of that. I've heard rumours and rumblings, but nothing solid. I think it could work really well. We did a panel discussion for the show about two years ago, when members of the public come to see an episode or two in the theatre and then talk it through. To see the audience see it as a communal experience was great, it worked very well. There are a lot cinematic moments like the music, Sean Callery writes some really great music to go with the action.

Originally on SkyOne.co.uk.

Source

24 SEASON 3 Q&A with CARLOS BERNARD (2004)

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

Source

Sunday 1 October 2006

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.

By COELI CARR

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