Corey Hawkins on His Own ’24’ Fandom, Eric’s Journey

24: LEGACY: Corey Hawkins in the “2:00 PM-3:00 PM” episode of 24: LEGACY airing Saturday, Feb. 18 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2017 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Guy D'Alema/FOX

Corey Hawkins is the face of a new chapter in the 24 franchise, 24: Legacy, but prior to taking the role of Eric Carter, he was a fan of the series.

“I grew up watching the show, and every Monday, I just remember that was TV night for us. To turn on that show, sit back, and watch Jack Bauer save the world, one second at a time—literally, one minute at a time—it was special, ” Hawkins says. “When I started gearing up for this, I wanted to go back and get the tone. It’s a very different sort of format. I was in Australia at the time, shooting another project, and I was like, ‘I need to find 24!’ And there was only one Blockbuster open. But they had them. It left such a legacy, no pun intended. It was a special kind of time in television.”

“You have to sort of step into Kiefer Sutherland’s shoes—I wouldn’t say Jack Bauer’s shoes, because Eric Carter is a completely different person,” he continues. “The challenge is to step into Kiefer Sutherland’s shoes, to take it as far as he took it and even further. To continue to build on it, the legacy he left us. The legacy that all of the characters left us.”

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Eric’s very bad day has just started, but “he’s still very much a soldier; he’s still very much physically capable of being as menacing as he needs to be, threatening as he needs to be given the circumstances,” Hawkins says. “But I think he is adjusting. That’s the cool part about it: I get to tell the story of a young vet—and we have vets who are younger than Eric Carter is—who are in special forces. It’s awesome to tell this story of guys who look unassuming, but are very extraordinary people. But then you come home and you have to adjust to civilian life, you have to adjust to domestic life. Figure out how to operate in this world, which strangely enough starts to feel foreign to them. That’s the real cool part about it. In addition to stopping one of the biggest scale attacks on American soil, in addition to that, especially in this first season, you’re getting to know these characters in such an intimate way.”

And though the audience had years of getting to know Jack, Eric’s newness will allow him to surprise viewers. “This is the first day we get to see in Eric Carter’s life, this is the first one we get to peek into, and it happens to be a very bad one,” Hawkins says. “We catch him at a moment where things might be okay, but you start to, as the show continues, things start to unravel, and you start to find out things about your protagonist, your hero—your anti-hero, whatever—when you start to question your relationship with him in ways that are really surprising. With Eric Carter, you’re still trying to figure it out. He’s still trying to figure it out. [And] it’s not just PTSD from being overseas as a soldier, there’s that from growing up in the environment he grew up, too. You watch this young man wrestle with these demons and flaws, whatever that is, through the course of this day. This is the kind of situation that would definitely bring out those qualities.”

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Eric uses his knowledge of D.C.—and the series tackles what it means to have a black main protagonist—to his advantage in the second hour of Legacy: in order to get into a secure part of the police station, Eric intentionally gets himself arrested…and he’s able to accomplish that by merely looking suspicious. “That’s the thing: you have to address it,” Hawkins says. “You address it by the nature of it and the audience reads into it. He’s not superhuman, he’s not wearing an invisible cloak going through the streets. You also get to see him wrestle with that. He’s not a soldier [here]; he’s not an agent. He has to deal with that. We do address it because it is a part of that story.”

Eric does have people in his corner willing to go to bat for him at CTU; most notably Rebecca (Miranda Otto). “Well, what you see is that they obviously have a really close relationship,” Hawkins says. “He calls her—he doesn’t trust anyone, and the person he does call is Rebecca Ingram. It speaks to their history: she knows who his family [is]. They know each other very well.”

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And as Eric and Rebecca are hoping to adjust to normal lives, their situations parallel each other. “On some level they are the same type of people,” Hawkins says. “They’re both being pulled. Donovan, he gave up stuff in the beginning so she could do what she had to do. Now she’s giving up stuff. I think that’s true of Eric and Nicole as well. She had to give up a lot: her dreams, her goals, her aspirations; she had to put a lot of that on hold for him to fulfill his duty. And now that he’s back, he has to wrestle with where do we go from here. Do I get out of it? Is this my fight? I think he’s wrestling with that, too. Rebecca, we’ll start to see their loyalties and where they lie. Rebecca is obviously no longer the head of CTU, so it’s about how does she operate within that to help Eric or not help Eric. It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out.”

24: Legacy, Mondays, 8/7c, Fox