Howard Gordon Talks 24: Legacy

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What made you decide to bring 24 back without Jack Bauer?

It was something we'd been talking about, conceptually, but one that never really gained any traction until we were convinced that Jack had no more longevity as a character inside the 24-verse. That doesn't mean he couldn't come back in some other form, shorter form or movie, maybe some cameo appearance in this. But for the time being we really felt like he'd run his course. It felt that way to Kiefer as well.

After we understood that, we embraced the idea of real-time as a narrative engine that had life in it. Then it was a matter of finding a character. And around him a set of characters who we'd never seen before. In many ways you'd recognise this as the old 24 — it has the energy and storytelling device of real-time — but it's new because it has a new and really interesting character at its centre. There's a reason the wheel is still round after all these years. It rolls the best way!

24: Legacy

What was the origin of the Eric Carter character?

Eric is young, he's African American and he's not a spy yet or a counter-terrorist agent. He was a Special Forces soldier, who went over to the Middle East, was part of a very secret mission to kill a top terrorist. A fictional target. And he and his team are now back here, hiding out in a type of witness-protection program.

That idea was inspired by the real story of the soldiers who were on Seal Team Six, who killed Bin Laden and who went into hiding. That was sort of the genesis of the idea. Carter is young, with a lot more life ahead of him than Jack Bauer had at the time we met him. He had a teenage daughter, was in a long-term marriage and Eric Carter is very much at the beginning of his journey. So it really is an origin story, in a way that 24 wasn't.

The global landscape has changed significantly since 24, how did you address that?

We acknowledge the fact that some of the things that made us afraid still exist, but exist in different forms now. The show reflects the evolution of some of the threats that are now facing us and I think our storytelling is a little bit more nuanced. In the case of Eric Carter, the fact he is African-American is significant. We are exploring a character who is a very American hero, but one that has to square himself with the idea that he is protecting a country that maybe hasn't been so good to him and to his family, because of their race.

How early on did you cast Corey Hawkins in the role?

It was actually not unlike finding Carrie Matheson of Homeland. He was the only one we wanted, and we were incredibly lucky to get him. We'd seen Straight Outta Compton. When Lisa Miller Katz, who is our casting director, mentioned him, that was it for us. We did a Skype call with him — He was shooting Skull Island at the time — And kinda fell in love with him on that call. I mean, for someone to be on a Skype call halfway around the world and have the charisma he had on that small screen, was pretty impressive. We ended the call, all looked at each other and said, "He's a star."

24 Legacy

What about the supporting roles? Specifically Jimmy Smits and Miranda Otto.

A really interesting, modern marriage is something we haven't seen on the show before. She's a former director of CTU and in fact was the person whom Carter worked for. She's retired. He's a senator and he was from a very powerful family. He was going to run [for president]. Four years ago he was enlisted by the party to run and he chose not to, because his wife was so deep in her pursuit of this terrorist and running CTU. She's since retired, based on the agreement, so he can have his turn at [achieving] his professional goals. It's a very modern and very contemporary marriage. They're two dynamite actors, so it's a pleasure to see them work. They're old pros.

How did you find resurrecting CTU for modern America?

That was a fun thing. Working out "What does CTU look like?" It's actually the first time we've seen national CTU. John Kretschmer, who was the designer on Homeland, designed that. It ended up feeling like something futuristic. It feels like it's five seconds in the future. That's the best way to describe the show, in that it feels like it's happening at a slightly advanced time.

Has it been as fun as you thought it would be?

It really has. It is difficult and a challenge unlike any other one for the obvious reason — it's real-time — but at the same time it is such a compelling way to tell stories. It's like putting a puzzle together. And working with many of the same people —It's been like a band that we're putting together again.

24: Legacy is currently airing in the UK on FOX.