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Xander Berkeley as George Mason

Sunday, October 27, 2002

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

Though he shares a name with one of America's lesser-known founding fathers, last season George Mason seemed like a threat. As a co-worker at the Counter Terrorism Unit with Jack Bauer, he and Bauer rarely agreed on a course of action and Mason's motivations were suspect.

As the second season begins, Mason is in charge of CTU's Los Angeles bureau, having inherited the upstairs office from Bauer.

"It looks like I perceive myself as languishing at CTU, wishing I were elsewhere doing bigger and better things I may have been promised or that were at least alluded to by the president himself," Xander Berkeley said. "But I am in charge of things, so I guess there's some consolation in that."

Berkeley, who married "24" co-star Sarah Clarke last month, said he never believed Mason was in league with the villains.

"I was playing him as though he was a genuinely reliable, helpful character, although he was always perceived differently," he said. "I think it's the repertoire of association because I've played a lot of bad guys, and just the way they position the camera and the lines play into it."

The ever-changing plot twists on "24" force actors to "remain a blank canvas upon which they can continue to project new ideas. ... You never really know where they're going to go.

"There's also the idea that the best way to become really dangerous is to not play dangerous," he said. "From here to bad there are so many shades of evil and self-serving. I seem to be one of those guys who has an edge."

As the new season begins, Berkeley said Mason "appears to be one thing, but they've assured me I'm not that."

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