Rob Lowe and Liv Tyler bring 9-1-1 blazing back to life
Created by the team who brought us the original 9-1-1 series, multiple Emmy winners Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk (Pose, Glee, Nip/Tuck), along with Emmy nominee Tim Minear (Feud, American Horror Story, Firefly), Lone Star makes for a satisfying, easy-viewing 10-episode binge-watch.
The first-responder action-drama stars multiple Golden Globe nominee Rob Lowe (Parks and Recreation, The West Wing) as a respected New York fire chief who relocates to Austin, Texas to put together a brand-new fire unit following a catastrophic accident that devastated the former 126 unit.
Teen Choice nominee Liv Tyler (Harlots, Lord of the Rings) co-stars as wry, self-assured Emergency Medical Service captain Michelle Blake, while multiple Teen Choice nominee Lyndsy Fonseca (Desperate Housewives, Nikita, Kick-Ass), Billy Burke (The Twilight Saga’s Charlie Swan) and Natalie Zea (Justified, Californication) all guest star.
At 56, 80s teen idol and Brat Packer Rob Lowe is as handsome as ever, with the added charm of having racked up enough “hot miles” and experience in the biz to have a good dig at himself.
Rob introduces his character as “Captain Owen Strand, a long-time veteran of the New York Fire Department; a survivor of 9/11, who is dealing with some profound issues because of that; and who, for various reasons, decides to relocate to Austin, Texas, and start a new life and start all over again with the Austin Fire Department.”
Rob says he and co-creator Ryan Murphy have been trying to find a project to do together for around 15 years but this is the first time their respective schedules have aligned. “I love 9-1-1, the original,” says Rob, “and they came to me with a very different iteration of it.”
Lowe praises “the magic of the Ryan Murphy/Tim Minear brand”, which, he says, sets the tone for the show.
Rob is also good friends with co-creator Brad Falchuck. “So these guys know me. They know where the bodies are buried,” Rob laughs. “So, imagine my shock, when I read the pilot, and I was playing a character who’s very concerned about losing his hair.”
“I don’t know where they got it from!” he says with an (almost) straight face, adding that playing Owen has been really fun precisely because the writers managed to sneak so many of Rob’s own foibles into the character.
The result is a peppering of charmingly cheesy moments like Captain Strand explaining to one of his men in the change room that he has three commitments to his people: Everybody who clocks in will clock out. Everybody gets a fair shake. And no one, no one, gets left behind… when it comes to skin care.
One of Rob’s favourite things about Lone Star is its “really interesting, really well rounded ensemble”, which includes Ronen Rubinstein as Owen’s gay firefighter-paramedic son, TK; trans actor Brian Michael Smith from The L Word: Generation Q and Queen Sugar as firefighter Paul Strickland; and Natacha Karam as Muslim firefighter-paramedic Marjan Marwani, an adrenalin junkie.
He also praises “the magic of the Ryan Murphy/Tim Minear brand”, which, he says, sets the tone for the show. “It’s very unique. We can be playing a legitimate life-and-death scene, and then turn on a dime and I’m obsessing with how much Minoxidil it’s going to take to keep my hair going, ‘cause it’s my ‘signature look’,” he grins. “And somehow this world supports that – the humour, the sort of absurdity, and the real-life stakes. A lot of shows do either / or, but very few do both.”
That combo of high-stakes drama and humour is exactly what makes Lone Star so addictive, but Rob is also mindful of the real inspiration behind his role: “To be able to bring to life these characters, that are based on people who are actually out in the trenches, facing adversity and saving lives every single day, is a profound honour for me,” he says.
The stars, the stories and, let’s be honest, the not-unwelcome fire station change room scenes, are a winning formula, and, thanks to the show’s seasoned creators, we know we’re in good hands. 9-1-1 Lone Star has already been renewed for a second season, with Rotten Tomatoes saying the show “packs an entertaining punch and is a great showcase for the handsomely self-aware Rob Lowe.”
… who, it turns out, can also pull out a pretty impressive line dance.
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