'24: Legacy' Is Out With The Old & In With The New

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Are you ready for a 24 without Jack Bauer? While such a concept is almost impossible for fans to imagine, it's almost upon us whether we're ready or not: with the spinoff's premiere this Sunday after the Super Bowl, we're about to meet 24: Legacy lead Eric Carter, the man replacing Agent Bauer as the new lead of the franchise. But who is Eric Carter, exactly — and who is Corey Hawkins, the man playing 24's new protagonist?

When Legacy begins, Carter is an ex-Army Ranger recently returned home from a dangerous mission to eliminate the leader of a Middle Eastern terrorist organization. But when he and his fellow Rangers are targeted for assassination in retaliation for their attack, Carter has to turn to the famed Counter Terrorist Unit for their help in saving his life — and in return, he gets conscripted into helping them thwart an even larger plot involving an attack about to be leveled against the United States.

Depending on who you ask, Eric Carter is either exactly like Jack Bauer… or nothing like Jack Bauer. TV Guide refers to the Army Ranger as "Jack Bauer 2.0," and quotes Hawkins as comparing his character to the former star of the franchise, saying that, "They're both patriots and they're both mission-oriented guys. And they would do anything to save their family, their country and themselves."

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But a recent Nerdist article examines how "Eric Carter is basically the opposite of Jack Bauer," in direct opposition to those "Jack Bauer 2.0" comparisons: "Eric Carter is a young soldier who has returned from duty," Legacy creator Evan Katz told the site. "He’s not an intelligence officer, he’s not a CTU agent. This is really an origin story. He’s feeling his way through this journey and we’re seeing the birth of an agent. This character is a youthful idealist that we haven’t seen on this show. We meet him at the start of his journey with CTU and this season is going to turn him into an agent."

It makes sense that the new lead character would be very different from Jack Bauer… considering that the idea behind Legacy was never originally intended to be an offshoot of 24 at all. This surprisingly revelation came from Katz's co-creator Manny Coto, who told Nerdist, "The origin was never really a 24 season. The idea we had was suggested from the Bin Laden events and extrapolated into a larger story. We developed that for a general thriller, not just 24. This idea came about and we realized this might be a great next iteration for this franchise."

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As for the young man playing the new face of 24, both film and TV audiences should be passingly familiar with Corey Hawkins. On the small screen, the 28-year-old has had guest parts on USA Network's Royal Pains and CBS' Golden Boy, although his biggest engagement to date has been the recurring role of Alexandria resident Heath on Seasons 6 and 7 of AMC's The Walking Dead.

On the big screen, Hawkins played minor supporting characters in Iron Man 3 and the Liam Neeson action movie Non-Stop before landing his breakout role as Dr. Dre in 2015's acclaimed N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton — which earned him a SAG Award nomination for Best Ensemble as a member of the movie's outstanding cast. Apart from his impending role as Eric Carter, you'll also be able to see Hawkins on the big screen this March in the blockbuster reboot Kong: Skull Island, alongside such big names as Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, and Samuel L. Jackson.

Of course, Hawkins isn't the only new cast member you'll meet when you tune into the 24: Legacy premiere this weekend. In fact, with the exception of Tony Almeida, every single character in Legacy is new to the franchise. That includes Miranda Otto (Homeland), as the outgoing head of CTU; Jimmy Smits (NYPD Blue) as her husband and a Presidential candidate; Teddy Sears (The Flash) as the incoming head of CTU; and Dan Bucatinsky (Scandal) as a CTU communications analyst.

See them all in action when 24: Legacy premieres this Sunday at 10:30 p.m. ET following the Super Bowl.