Welcome to Remote Controlled, Variety’s podcast series featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera.
This week’s episode features Variety executive editor of TV Debra Birnbaum in conversation with “24: Legacy” executive producers Manny Coto and Evan Katz, as well as series stars Corey Hawkins and Jimmy Smits.
The show, which premieres this Sunday after the Super Bowl, addresses the question of what happens to American soldiers who’ve participated in raids against terrorism operatives after they return home.
Hawkins plays Eric Carter, a former Army Ranger who participated in the mission to kill Sheik Ibrahim Bin-Khalid, an Osama bin Laden-like leader, and is now living in witness protection — but finds his comrades being picked off one by one by Bin-Khalid’s allies.
“Originally, [the idea] was for another series,” Coto recalled. “Kiefer [Sutherland] wasn’t coming back, so we thought, we’ll make another thriller.” The duo said they realized the idea had the potential to be another “24.”
Added Katz, “The biggest challenge was coming up with this character who wasn’t Jack Bauer, but ultimately needs to have some of the qualities of Jack Bauer, but be very different and fresh.”
Enter Hawkins, the star of “Straight Outta Compton.” He was the only actor they considered for the role.
“On ’24,’ you don’t have time to emote and deal with stuff, because stuff just keeps happening,” Hawkins joked. “Every other minute there’s something crazy that’s happening that’s threatening this country. There’s a bigger picture, but at the heart of it you care about these guys.”
He also revealed the advice he got from original series star Kiefer Sutherland: “Let it surprise you and have fun.”
Veteran TV star Jimmy Smits plays presidential candidate John Donovan, whose wife, Rebecca Ingram (Miranda Otto) is the former head of CTU — and one of the only people Carter trusts.
Smits credits the creative team with his decision to sign on for the project. “There’s a comfort level there. They know how to do this,” Smits said of Katz, Coto, executive producer Howard Gordon and pilot director Stephen Hopkins. “The show has a very specific visual template to it that I think changed the way people watched TV when it first aired.”
He also points to the diversity of the cast and the storytelling: “I love the fact that the women characters were empowered not just in title. These women, they move the story forward.”
You can listen to this week’s episode here:
New episodes of “Remote Controlled” are available every Friday.