'24: Legacy' Will Explore "What It Means to be an American"

Producers Howard Gordon, Brian Grazer, Manny Coto and Evan Katz talk to reporters about the Fox revival at TCA.
Courtesy of Ray Mickshaw/FOX

Fox's forthcoming 24: Legacy may be the most unintentionally well-timed show for the country's political landscape.

The network's forthcoming revival of the Kiefer Sutherland franchise — which features an all new cast and entirely different premise — will explore what it means to be an American, producers told reporters Wednesday at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour.

The new take will be structured in the same style as the original series. Legacy revolves around Eric Carter, a military hero (Corey Hawkins, Straight Outta Compton) who returns to the U.S. and the trouble that follows him back — compelling him to ask CTU for help in saving his life, and stopping what potentially could be one of the largest-scale terror attacks on American soil.

The series reunites the team behind the flagship series as well as recent Fox revival 24: Live Another Day. Exec producer Howard Gordon said Legacy explores what it means to be an American for all its characters, including Carter, a young black man from Washington, D.C.; Miranda Otto's Rebecca Ingram, "a high-powered woman who ran CTU;" as well as Jimmy Smits' John Donovan, a Hispanic senator who is running for president. "The headline is what does it mean to be an American? Everyone is asking that question in its own way," said Gordon.

Legacy — which premieres Sunday, Feb. 5, following the Super Bowl — arrives as broadcast networks in particular are examining the types of programming they telecast in a Trump America. Many series — from broadcast, cable and streaming alike — have stressed during their time in front of press this month that their shows are particularly relevant thematically and appeal to the large swath of the country that may have been underrepresented on the small screen during the Obama administration.   

To that end, Legacy also will hone in on how terrorism has changed domestically.

"Terrorism has changed since the show began," said exec producer Evan Katz. "The big fear was large-scale attacks, and it has become something more that can arise in your neighborhood, with a lone wolf kind of guy. That's something the show is dramatizing and extrapolating this year."

In creating Legacy, producers noted that the creative team wanted to be sure to feature characters that were different from 24 and even Gordon's Showtime drama Homeland.

"You have to reverse engineer the character in broad strokes," said Gordon. "Jack [Bauer] is a man; Carrie [on Homeland] is a woman; Jack is father with daughter; Eric is in his 20s. These are things that distinguished him from Bauer. … We didn't just want to [feature an African-American lead] because someone said, 'Let's cast a black guy, an Asian guy or Hispanic guy. It was who is this character. … We brought our own feelings of race in America to this character. Eric Carter as a black man will mean what it means without being a stereotype or being fetishized."

For his part, breakout star Hawkins stressed that Eric's roots will be explored on Legacy. "We have to honor where he came from; it's not about his skin color but about his culture and where he grew up. What are the alliances he had growing up in Washington, D.C., where I also grew up? We're honoring every single detail about that. That's the authenticity. In terms of the big picture, growing up, we never got to see a hero [who wasn't] superhero and who looked like us. That you could look to and say, 'Man, I could be that guy someday. I could be a patriot, or a soldier, or work in the government and be a hero.' That really appealed to me."

Watch a new trailer, below.

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