Tim Stack
January 05, 2007 AT 05:00 AM EST

Alexander Siddig

FIRST APPEARANCE Episode 1, season 6

WHAT’S HIS STORY? Al-Assad is this season’s primary villain. Or maybe he’s not. Hell, even the Sudanese-born Siddig (Kingdom of Heaven) doesn’t quite know. ”What you think he is, he isn’t, and as soon as he puts one coat on, he seems to be something else,” says the actor. ”It’s one of the most ambiguous characters to hit the show in a very long time.” Even though Al-Assad is a Middle Eastern terrorist, Siddig insists that he isn’t a stereotype. ”The way [the writers] paint this character is very reflective of a more careful approach to terrorism and how it works,” he says. ”The producers [are] actually willing to look at this as a negotiable issue, not simply cardboard-cutout bad guys.”

WHAT THE PRODUCERS SAY ”Hamri Al-Assad is a very charismatic but deep-thinking terrorist leader,” says Gordon. ”He’s Muslim, European-educated. Intelligence shows that he is believed to be behind the wave of terror attacks that have been happening in the United States.”

ALL IN THE FAMILY Siddig is genetically disposed to playing a baddie, since Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange) is his uncle. ”I’ve got this huge acting side of my family,” says Siddig. ”We’re all kind of cozy, comparing notes [and] telling each other how proud we are of each other.” But that doesn’t mean there’s not room for some friendly mocking. ”It’s a joke amongst my family that I am always dying in everything that I do,” laughs Siddig. ”Probably 90 percent of the movies or TV shows that I’ve done, I’ve been killed. If I were to pick up a flowerpot and explode one day on 24, it wouldn’t surprise me.” Wait — was that a spoiler?

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