Ronen Rubinstein takes us inside that wild, Bird Box episode of 9-1-1: Lone Star
Talk about wild time in Texas!
Fox’s new emergency services drama 9-1-1: Lone Star may only be a couple of episodes in, but it’s already packed a whole bunch of crazy storylines into two installments. Monday night’s episode saw the new Austin firehouse crew called to a scene where a bunch of people were having Bird Box moments and trying to violently kill themselves, Owen (Rob Lowe) continued to hid his cancer from his son T.K. (Ronen Rubinstein) and T.K. withdraw from new love interest Carlos (Rafael Silva) when he started to get too close — and, of course, there were a ton of other emergencies to deal with too.
After we took a second to process all the drama, EW chatted to Rubinstein about the wild ride of a second episode and what’s to come for his character this season on the show.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Okay, we have to start with the Bird Box moment because that was insane to watch! What was your reaction when you read that in the script and how was shooting it?
RUBINSTEIN: Oh my God. It was insane. When we shot it, there was like 50 to 75 stunt people freaking out. They’re thrashing, kicking, drooling. Oh my God. We’re trying to restrain them, but, like, there stunt people so they’re strong! We’re like actively restraining them. It was just mayhem and we had the entire cast there so we had like 11 people, 50 to 70 extras and you’re trying to fit an entire crew in that office. It was mayhem and I would assume that it transferred onto the screen. It gets so weird, but the beauty of our show is that most of the stuff you’ve seen either happened or it can happen.
T.K. and his dad (Lowe) are so close and theirs is pretty much the central relationship of the show. How is T.K. going to deal with a) finding out his dad is sick and b) knowing he kept that from him?
Uh, I, I can’t really tell you when or if he reveals it, but I would assume that it would hurts T.K. so much. It’s like the worst news ever, but then again, you have someone suffering, so you have to find a way to put your own stuff aside and just care for the person you love. I hope we get to see a reveal soon — that’d be really interesting. His dad is like his buddy and I think that at times it’s like a balancing act with T.K. Sometimes he needs a dad and then sometimes he does need the buddy. The he’s also his captain in the fire department so there’s three really distinct and special relationships in just this one father/son duo. That’s something that I’ve been trying to really play and find the nuances in like, how do I approach Owen when he’s my captain? How do I approach him when he’s my dad? How do I approach him when he’s my pal? So there’s been really interesting aspects and layers to play with within that relationship.
They’re also roommates!
Right! And his dad’s also his roommate at the moment. I don’t know long he expects T.K. to live with him. I love that line [that Lowe’s Owen says], and I’ve heard parents say this so much: My job is just to keep you alive.
Do we get to see anymore of their backstory and how T.K. got mixed up in opiates? Or is it more just focusing on this clean start that they have in Texas?
Not that I know of just yet. Maybe eventually they will. I always sort of thought that just seeing his dad survive 9/11… I was in New York when 9/11 happened and I’m not a fireman and my parents weren’t firefighters, but just how tragic and extreme of a memory that is I would really assume that what his dad went through and all the people that he lost is something that goes on T.K.’s head. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was one of the factors leading to his drug and alcohol problems. Yeah. But overall he’s a fun-loving kid and he f—ing loves his job.
What was your first impression of meeting and working with Rob Lowe? Was it intimidating? He’s pretty much a T.V. legend at this point.
I was definitely nervous, but I sort of approached it — as corny as it sounds — like, just be yourself and if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen but you still got the chemistry read with Rob Lowe! We met and bonded within five minutes. We’re chatting and giggling and then we break down into like 50 pushups and we started talking about our workout regimens and our diets. So yeah the chemistry was instantaneous. Literally, my first day of work was in Times Square with Rob Lowe with the biggest production I’ve ever seen. After you do Times Square with Rob Lowe, everything else is much easier so that was a good way to start for sure.
The other big relationship for T.K. is his new romance with police officer Carlos (Silva). He pretty much withdrew from him at the end of episode 2, though. What can you tease for what’s to come for them?
We have to remember that it is so fresh. He overdosed only a couple of weeks before. So yes, he has this wonderful man in front of him and it happened really quick. But I think there’s so much going on in T.K.’s head: the job, his dad having cancer, working with brand new people, living in a brand new city, leaving everything back home and then, yeah, the heartbreak is huge. There’s this new person who seems absolutely perfect and but I think it’s going to be a little difficult for T.K. to open his heart fully. But I hope he tries! I really do because Carlos is a wonderful character.
I feel like fans are going to ship it hard.
God, it’s been happening since November, as soon as that first trailer dropped. We had a trending hashtag #Tarlos and it’s been the biggest hashtag from this show — and people hadn’t even seen the episode yet! So it’s been amazing to see how the fans are reacting.