It's been a great year so far for Freddie Prinze Jr. He and his wife, Sarah Michelle Gellar, are expecting their first baby, and Prinze was cast in the next season of one of his favorite shows, Fox's action drama 24. At Comic-Con to help promote the series' eighth season to begin in January, Prinze says 24 is “one of the only shows that I TiVo. That and Dodger games. That should let you know where it rates.” So how will Prinze's character, a gung-ho CTU operative named Davis Cole, get along with the infamous Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland)? Our Brian Truitt finds out. Click read more for his report.

Prinze reveals that Cole is like a younger version of Bauer: Both are ex-Marines, Cole's heading up CTU's field-ops unit (a position Jack once held), and he knows Jack's reputation for saving the world by any means necessary. The two have to team up when a potential threat endangers a United Nations peace conference in New York City. “When they first meet, it isn't, ‘Wow, nice to meet you, what are you all about?' He knows Jack's a badass,” Prinze says. “When you get two big dogs in a cage, they may see who can bark louder, but there's definitely going to be a large amount of respect there.”

The actor was prepared for the physicality and weaponry — growing up in New Mexico, he says, “You fight and you shoot guns. That's what you do” — but his character gets put through the ringer this season. Prinze says there's a dark side in Cole's relationship with his analyst fiancée, played by fellow newbie Katee Sackhoff. Prinze likes the fact that on 24 the flaws usually make the man. “Most of the time, it's ‘Let's find Jesus and everything will work out and I love you, too.' That works sometimes, if Richard Gere and Julia Roberts are doing it. But otherwise it's not too exciting for me to watch.”

Being a fan of the show, Prinze understands that some of the best characters in the show wind up in the morgue too soon. “It's definitely a risk to be a Latino and be on 24, because you die real fast usually,” he jokes. “A couple have made it. I'm very light-skinned and I don't have an accent so I might be OK. Most of the time, I just get behind Jack. He's like my bulletproof vest. Hopefully, they won't kill me.” And he also hopes that Sutherland will be around a few more years, too, even though he's only contracted through the end of this upcoming season. “I don't want to ever hear anybody say, ‘The following takes place…' except Kiefer.”

By Lorrie Lynch

USA Weekend

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