Corey Hawkins at '24: Legacy' Premiere: "I Don't Have to Step Up and Be Jack Bauer"

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The up-and-coming actor knew he had big shoes to fill when he took the lead in Fox's reboot. But he says he's no Bauer — and was never supposed to be.

“All I have to do is walk in Eric Carter’s shoes — I don’t have to step up and be Jack Bauer. There’s no pressure to do that,” Corey Hawkins told The Hollywood Reporter at the premiere of 24: Legacy at New York's Spring Studios. “What everyone loved about 24 is still there — the clock, the tick, the lean-in factor, the pacing. You can sit back and watch it, but you’re also engaged in the [controversy] of it all. But at the same time, it’s also very personal to Eric, and that’s what happened last time: People fell in love with Jack.”

Kiefer Sutherland, an executive producer on 24: Legacy, didn’t go far, but he wanted Hawkins to be able to shape his own role. Because of that, Hawkins has become a new kind of hero.

“Kiefer is amazing — I’ve been a fan of his for years,” Hawkins said. “He wanted me to allow the character to continue to surprise me. Sometimes as actors we feel like we want to hold on and control where a character goes. In film you know that arc, and in theater you know that arc. But with television, and particularly this show, all you can be is in the moment. And for an actor, that’s the greatest gift. Kiefer was really great about letting me do that, because he knows what this is to his core.”

Hawkins isn't the only hero lighting up the screen: With a diverse cast and strong male and female leads, the show is sure to give viewers a much-needed dose of strength. And girl power.

Miranda Otto, who plays Rebecca Ingram, the former director of the Counter Terrorist Unit and wife to presidential candidate John Donovan, played by Jimmy Smits (Star Wars, NYPD Blue), isn’t new to playing governmental roles. Formerly Allison Carr, a CIA station chief on Homeland, she’s happy to continue portraying strong females in the spotlight during such an important time for women’s rights.

“I was excited to play an actor in intelligence again. There are so many successful women working in intelligence, but it’s still seen as a male-dominated world," Otto said. "Usually the directors of the intelligence agencies are men, so I found it fascinating that they chose a woman. In everything I do, I like to set the idea for girls that they can do anything. I was really moved by Hillary Clinton’s speech when she lost the election — she didn’t want young girls to feel like it wasn’t possible and wanted them to know a female president will eventually happen. That’s important.”

24: Legacy premieres Sunday, Feb. 5, after the Super Bowl on FOX.