Warning: This article contains spoilers from the premiere of Fox’s 9-1-1. Read at your own risk!
At least Connie Britton’s fishtail braid was kinda relaxing. Wednesday night’s premiere of Fox’s first responder drama 9-1-1, from the American Horror Story team of Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Tim Minear, had several panic-inducing moments. The thrill ride follows a group of L.A. first responders (Angela Bassett, Peter Krause, Connie Britton, and more) as they attempt to rescue various normal citizens in some very non-normal emergencies, like a baby getting stuck in pipes after being flushed down a toilet.
But Murphy stresses that these scenarios are all based on fact, much like his FX plastic surgery procedural Nip/Tuck. “All the cases in the show are like Nip/Tuck: 100 percent truth,” says Murphy. “Go online — [the baby rescue] happened in China. We referenced the video of it when we were shooting the baby’s head coming out like a birth. The snake story actually happened.”
Krause said the latter, which found a woman being strangled by her own pet serpent, was particularly challenging since it was a live snake. “By the time I had to go on set and deal with it, the snake handler said, ‘If she starts to fight you, let her go.’ I said ‘No problem!’,” laughs Krause (Parenthood). “Sweat was just pouring out of my head. It was just a giant frickin’ snake, man! I mean huge.”
The actor emphasizes that special effects aren’t often employed on the set of 9-1-1. “It’s hard, man,” laughs Krause of shooting these scenes. “There are times where we’re not acting. People will watch this show and think there’s a lot of green screen but there’s not. We used a green screen once. It’s all frickin’ real.” He adds, “I’m physically exhausted, emotionally spent, my nerves are shot, but I’m having the time of my life.”
Upcoming episodes will not slow down either. Teases Murphy: “We have stories coming up about a roller coaster rescue; an Indian family dancing so hard at a wedding that the floor collapses and they fall three floors.”
In one future episode, 9-1-1 will even tackle a massive plane crash rescue. “They literally made the ocean that this plane crashes into,” says Bassett. “They are really big set pieces — I mean we’re making oceans. I really don’t know how much bigger we’re gonna go.”
9-1-1 airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.