The launch of “24: Legacy,” the next evolution of the Fox TV series “24,” has been awesome with its nod to diversity thanks to the introduction of super-cool star Corey Hawkins.
There was much anticipation as to how the show would work without Kiefer Sutherland playing Jack Bauer, a character who repeatedly saved the world in just 24 hours. But now the popular franchise has a new hero to deal with another uber-bad day, and the handsome young Corey Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton and the upcoming Kong: Skull Island) is up to the task.
In 24: Legacy, Hawkins steps into the heroic role of Eric Carter who must race against the ticking clock to stop a devastating attack on U.S. soil. Carter is caught up in the action because he was part of an elite squad of U.S. Army Rangers who killed the terrorist leader Sheik Ibrahim Bin-Khalid. In the aftermath, Bin-Khalid’s followers lead a strike against Carter and his squad and try to recover important information that can further a major terrorist plot. Carter reaches out to Rebecca Ingram (Miranda Otto), who was the Director of the Counter Terrorist Unit at the time of the raid, but a leak at the CTU makes Carter’s day even tougher.
Showing that he’s cool under pressure, Hawkins faced the TV critics during the Television Critics Association’s 2017 TCA winter press tour recently and talked about carrying on the legacy of Kiefer’s Jack Bauer. Hawkins revealed, “I’d be crazy to say there wasn’t any pressure, because if there wasn’t, then I wouldn’t be doing it. If the challenge wasn’t there, then there was no reason for me to say ‘yes’ to the role. The script happened to be amazing. It lifted off the page, and then your mind just starts going with where you can take it and what it means in television to be a hero and look like I look.”
As an African-American actor, Hawkins, at 28, said he is proud to play the hero. “Growing up, we never got to see a hero that didn’t have superpowers who looked like us. Someone that you could look to and say, ‘Man, I could be that guy one day. I could be a patriot. I could be a soldier. I could work in the government and be a hero.’”
Hawkins said his goal has been to “step into Eric Carter’s shoes and make him as complex and as flawed and as human as I could. That’s what we get to play with every day, those conversations in between the words, what’s not on the page. That’s the fun. Not following in the footsteps of anything that came before, because 24 is all about the moment that you’re in. As an actor, that’s a gift.”
A graduate of Julliard who starred in The Walking Dead last season, Hawkins explained that it is important to reflect on the heritage of his character. “We have to honor where he (Carter) comes from. It’s not just about his skin color, but it’s also about his culture. It’s about where he grew up, the alliances growing up in Washington, D.C., in the Southeast, where I actually grew up. That’s the authenticity.”
When Hawkins was working on the film Kong: Skull Island he met some Army Rangers and Navy SEALS in Vietnam and he started researching his role as Army Ranger Eric Carter. It’s a very physical role and he enjoys doing the stunts. “It’s super cool, but it’s hard on me. I’m not going to lie. I would prefer not to go to the gym,” he admitted.
Hawkins described Carter as “an average human being with extraordinary ability in terms of being a soldier, but the rules of engagement are very different on the home front.” Above all he is a patriot who has an important job to do, and only 24 hours to do it.
24: Legacy also stars Miranda Otto, Jimmy Smits, Ashley Thomas, Sheila Vand, Dan Bucatinsky, Charlie Hofheimer, Anna Diop, Teddy Sears and Coral Pena. Tune in Monday nights on Fox.