It’s been nearly 16 years since Tony Almeida first graced TV screens in “24” — along the way losing his wife and unborn child, briefly dying, coming back to life, getting recruited by terrorists and going to prison.
The character, played by Carlos Bernard, made his triumphant return to the franchise on last week’s episode of “24: Legacy” (8 p.m. Mondays on Fox). Almeida’s return was foreshadowed in a short film that showed him getting out of prison on the DVD release of “24: Live Another Day.” With his “Legacy” debut, Bernard is the first alumnus of the original “24” to appear on the newest spinoff, starring Corey Hawkins in the terrorist-fighting hero role.
“It was very strange at first. It is totally different actors, a [mostly] different crew,” says Bernard, 54. He’s been focused on directing the past few years, and says he was initially worried about getting back into Tony. But, he says, “the character … is just sort of in there and just comes out. It’s always a matter of calibrating where [Tony] is at this point in the story.” Tony is called into the “Legacy” plot by CTU director Rebecca Ingram (Mirando Otto), who enlists his “special skills” in interrogating her duplicitous father-in-law Henry Donovan (Gerald McRaney) following a terrorist attack on the George Washington Bridge. While it’s alluded to that he and Rebecca have a romantic past, the rest of Tony’s history since getting out of prison has yet to be revealed.
“You’re going to find out … more in this next episode about where’s he’s been,” Bernard says. “He’s just been a mercenary, taking jobs as a gun for hire and really surviving in the shadows. This … brings him back to that world that he was once a part of.”
Bernard was reminded of just how damaged Tony is every day in the makeup chair, when the artists would recreate his past scars (like the one on his neck from when he was shot in the back in Season 3). “He would like to claim that [helping Rebecca] … it’s nothing personal and that he doesn’t trust the government, doesn’t trust people, he’s just doing his job to make money and surviving,” Bernard says.