'It was kind of like going to your class reunion, but you wind up in a different school,' Bernard says of returning to the '24' universe
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Credit: Guy D'Alema/FOX

Welcome back, Tony Almeida!

After two years away, Carlos Bernard steps back into the role of Tony Almeida in Monday’s 24: Legacy episode. For Bernard, returning to the role he played for six seasons was a strange yet familiar experience. None of his original castmates were there, but he knew many of the crew members and was given the same gun he used on 24.

“I had a great time working on it. I was a little nervous about coming back to do it, to be totally honest with you,” Bernard tells EW. “I’m pretty happy with the way it went. I’m really glad I did it.”

The last time we saw the disgraced CTU agent, he planning his escape from solitary confinement in 24: Solitary, a special DVD extra included on the 24: Live Another Day box set. When we catch up with Tony in Monday’s episode, he’s out of prison and working for former CTU director Rebecca Ingram (Miranda Otto). As teased in the promos for “6:00PM-7:00PM,” Rebecca recruits Tony to grab her husband John Donovan’s (Jimmy Smits) shady father Henry (Gerald McRaney), who had a role in leaking the names of Eric Carter’s unit to the terrorists, for some “enhanced interrogation.”

Below, Bernard explains why he was nervous to reprise the role and previews where Tony’s head is at when we meet him in tonight’s episode.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did it feel to step back into Tony Almeida’s shoes?
CARLOS BERNARD: It’s a strange thing, you know? It’s been awhile. It’s a very strange thing because when we shot this DVD extra a couple years ago on the Live Another Day DVD, I had a very similar experience where I was wondering, “It’s been a long time. Is this character still there?” And pretty immediately it just kinda comes of out. Without getting into sort of artsy-fartsy actor talk about the process, it just really kind of comes out. I think the biggest thing is sort of altering where he’s at right now after what he’s been through over the years. But, it’s funny, it’s there and it just kind of comes out.

What made you excited about returning to the show after all of these years?
One of the fun things about playing this particular character is that it is a span of all the years and everything that he’s been through. So, to play a character where you get to take all of that trauma and baggage that he’s been through and sort of load it up and take it onto the next season is always really interesting, to again figure out where he is emotionally, psychologically, and physically and then carry it onto the new story.

And this show is like my baby. For those of us who were there from the beginning, it’s kind of like your child in a way. You’re very protective of it and you want it to go well and obviously it’s always an important project for me when I get involved in it. I love the people that work on it — the writers, [director] Jon Cassar. Even though there are different actors on the show, there’s still people behind the scenes that have been there for awhile, so it’s kind of like family in a way.

Was it weird coming back to the 24 universe without Kiefer [Sutherland] and Mary-Lynn [Rajskub] there?
Yeah, without James Morrison…It was a little strange. It was kind of like going to your class reunion, but you wind up in a different school. What’s funny is that you have these other characters that these people are playing and they’re stepping right into it and talking to the character as if they have — I don’t know how to say this, [but] they’re kind of up to speed. They’re like, “Oh yeah, Tony Almeida!” For instance, Miranda’s character Rebecca has this history with Tony and so she’s right there in step with Tony suddenly being there. So, it was little strange.

Credit: Guy D'Alema/FOX

Do you remember what your first day on set was like?
The first day on set was really the kidnapping scene. That kidnapping scene was the very first scene that I shot. Jon was actually directing that episode, which was great, and Jeffrey [C. Mygatt], the DP, worked on the original 24. It kind of felt like, “Oh this like 24, except Jack is off doing his thing and I’m just doing this over here,” because that’s kind of the way it was with our storylines [in the original series]. They would sort of go off in different ways and then meet at the end or whenever. It kind of felt like old-school 24. When I came back to shoot the other scenes, I was like, “Okay, this is a little different. This is a different character. This is a different world,” which I think was kind of good for that character, actually, to sort of deal with all of that. This is where he’s at, actually. He’s a gun for fire and going into different situations where he doesn’t necessarily know people.

Can you tease where Tony’s head is at when he shows up on Monday?
He’s a damaged individual. He’s been through what he’s been through, not the least of which was watching his wife get blown up right in front of him. Then going through what he went through to find her killer and winding up in solitary confinement and being in solitary confinement, which can certainly mess with a person mentally and physically. So, he’s been through the ringer and he’s kind of a loner.

24: Legacy airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.

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24: Legacy
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