He Blowed Up Real Good: Benito Martinez of 'The Shield' Launches '24'
Tonight's cuppa: decaf Irish breakfast tea
In the opening hour of Sunday's 8th-season premiere of Fox's "24," wounded informant Victor Aruz (B enito Martinez) shows up at the New York City front door of briefly retired Counter Terrorist Unit operative Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland). He's been shot, he has information to trade, and since he and Bauer are such old pals, he gets dragged inside and receives assistance.
Hmmm, you may have thought, have I actually seen Aruz before? Why, you might have asked, don't I remember Sutherland (in photo, left) in a scene with Martinez (in photo, right) when Aruz's name came up as part of the Salazar operation in season 3 of the show?
Turns out your memory is just fine.
"I was referenced," says Martinez. "But no, I never played the character. All of my character stuff is based on what they introduced then. I saw all of that season, but I could not place it.
"We had conversations on set about it."
For this interview, Martinez is sitting on the set of Fox's "Lie to Me," shooting "Pied Piper," a special episode of the show that features a mini-reunion of him and other actors from FX's "The Shield," the former show of "Lie" executive producer Shawn Ryan (story to come when the show airs in the spring).
Before gathering with his old castmates, Martinez allowed himself to be blown up on "24," but it's not like he didn't enjoy it.
'We had a great time," he says. "We were everywhere, L.A. Center Studios, on the roofs of buildings downtown."
Since the "Lie to Me" episode is shooting in December, Martinez can't share "24" details, but he does have an overview of what viewers saw last night and will see in the second half of the four-hour, two-night premiere, airing Monday, Jan. 18.
"I can say that I was quite happy to do this journey," says Martinez. "They wanted to make you feel like it was pushing the restart button for the franchise, for the viewers, for the writers, the creators.
"They took a lot of time and care to make sure the story was in place for this. All the players they've lined up throughout is really a testament to what they've set out to achieve. You've not seen this all before.
"And there's the challenges that Jack Bauer has -- he's come in from a retired place; he smiles; he's a different guy; he's gone through hell and back; he's not physically well, but he's getting there.
"So there are a lot of different things that he's having to rise from as well."
And, as for rumors of a possible feature film based on "The Shield" -- some of them perpetuated on Facebook by series star Michael Chiklis -- all Martinez can say is, "I'm getting this from all sorts of places. I don't know what to say. I'm not in the know about it. It'd be nice, but time is ticking."
If a movie is done, it may have to deal with the fact that a few "Shield" regular characters didn't survive the series, but Martinez' David Aceveda -- a police captain turned politician -- was still upright and breathing.
Quips Martinez, "At least I'm not dead."