Corey Hawkins is Not Your New Jack Bauer

After his breakout role in Straight Outta Compton, the star of Fox’s new 24 spin-off seeks to forge his own legacy in Hollywood
Corey Hawkins is Not Your New Jack Bauer

Corey Hawkins won’t be held hostage by Jack Bauer. While the 28-year-old actor plays the lead role in 24: Legacy — a 12-episode extension of the Fox espionage thriller that spanned eight seasons, a TV movie and a miniseries — the only thing his character shares with his predecessor is a determination to defeat the bad guys in a specified amount of time.

“I know people are going to be up in arms about it, because they have a character they know, love and associate with the show,” he says of the differences between his hero, Eric Carter, and the one played by Kiefer Sutherland. “But it’s not called Jack Bauer — it’s called 24. My job is to take that [character], respect that and carry it forward.”

In the new series, set to debut on Fox after the Super Bowl (Feb. 5), the clock starts ticking after assassins hunt down members of Carter’s former U.S. Army Rangers unit. Hawkins seems well suited to his role: He grew up in Washington, D.C., with a mother who worked in law enforcement and a father who, he says obliquely, “came from the other side of things.”

A graduate of the prestigious Duke Ellington School of the Arts and Juilliard, he embraces his role as an African-American crime fighter. “Growing up in D.C., I saw the black Power Ranger, but I can’t think of any more heroes. I’m still trying to think of young guys who look like me on television who get to tell these kinds of stories, without it being stereotypical.”

In addition to 24: Legacy, Hawkins battles giant beasts alongside Samuel L. Jackson and Brie Larson in next month’s Kong: Skull Island, and will appear on stage this spring in the Broadway revival of Six Degrees of Separation — dauntingly, in the role that made Will Smith a movie star. “I feel like I’m on a good path right now,” he says, “and I don’t want to mess it up.”
 


COREY'S FASCINATIONS
 

Aviation
“I grew up as a flight simulator geek.”

Black Mirror
“It’s a BBC show—it’s trippy, man. It takes you there.”

Time
“I know it’s not a tangible thing, but I’m obsessed with time and how to put things into place.”