9-1-1's Oliver Stark on Buck's future with Taylor and friendship with Ryan Guzman's struggling Eddie
Evan "Buck" Buckley has never been great at relationships — but he seems to have really stepped in it now.
The 9-1-1 character, played by Oliver Stark, started the series a playboy before falling for Connie Britton's Abby in season 1. He then lived in heartbreak before a string of short relationships and eventually met his girlfriend Taylor (Megan West). Then came the drunken kiss with new firehouse colleague Lucy (Arielle Kebbel). Buck had hopes of coming clean to Taylor about the intimate moment, but instead what came out was "move in with me."
On Monday's episode, Buck moves Taylor in...and finally confesses about the kiss. Lucy admits she's not sure she ever needed to know about the kiss and wants to know if Buck feels like he's "trapped" Taylor by getting her to give up her place. He's not sure.
And, as though that's not enough on his emotional plate right now, Buck also gets a call to help Eddie (Ryan Guzman), who is breaking down as he finally processes his PTSD from his time as an army medic in Afghanistan.
To get the 411 on 9-1-1 — and find out what's next on the fiery Fox drama — EW spoke to Stark about everything Buck.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Walk us through where Buck's head is at right now in regards to Taylor.
OLIVER STARK: I think Buck is, as we've come to learn over the years, always well-intentioned, right? He's certainly a character with a big heart, but being well-intentioned and having a big heart doesn't mean that you don't make mistakes. And he's kind of made a huge mistake when it comes to Taylor's feelings and how you should treat another human being. So I think it weighs heavy on him, and the fact that he's messed up is not lost on him. And not only with the kiss itself, but his handling of the kiss afterwards. The well-intentioned part being that he didn't want to tell her, obviously, because he didn't want to hurt her. But I think we can all agree that in a case like this, honesty would've been the best policy.
Though would it have? Hen (Aisha Hinds) told him it was probably best not to say anything if the kiss wasn't more than a mistake, and Taylor says she probably would have preferred not to know...
I don't think the goal here is to condone the act of kissing somebody that is not your significant other — but it's more to highlight that his handling after it was most unfair. And for me, being on Buck's side, hearing that line [from Taylor,] it's like, "Listen, you messed up, fine. What you didn't need to then go and do is essentially trap me because you were feeling guilty about what you did." So, yeah, I think it says a lot about Taylor. She understands Buck is a human making mistakes, but "don't drag me down because of the things that you have done wrong." So, yeah, I think it says a lot about who she is in that moment.
On the other side of things, Buck is now working with Lucy. How has it been to play that dynamic?
There are certainly these moments that lean into the awkwardness, which was fun to play. I think as we move forward, Lucy offers Buck something that he doesn't necessarily have from other people: She is somebody that's coming in as a similar kind of firefighter, every bit as capable and every bit as experienced. So over the next few episodes, we'll see them using their past experiences to fill in the blanks for each other. If Lucy is going through something that Buck feels like he's been through, he's able to be there for her and vice versa.
9-1-1 producer Kristen Reidel has told EW that the show is going to explore the perception of Buck being a "settler" and afraid to be alone. How is that going to play out?
I think over the next few episodes, we'll see Buck taking a look at his own life and thinking about what he really wants. But we've seen Buck not need to be in a relationship. He broke up with Abby at the end of season...or Abby broke up with him at the end of season 1, or in the beginning of season 2. And other than some brief things, the end of season 4 was his next actual romantic relationship. But what we have seen is, Buck needs to depend on other people — whether that be platonic or romantic. I think he just needs to get to a point now where he can just be okay with himself and who he is rather than needing the validation of a partner or of his friends or of his family or of his firehouse. He needs to be able to just look himself in the mirror and say, "Hey, man, you're doing a great job out here."
We all need to be able to do that.
Sure. And, hey, listen, easier said than done.
We don't get much resolution on the Taylor front because Buck is called to go help Eddie. It can't be easy for Buck to see his friend suffering like that.
Yeah. Buck has always been somebody who wants to be there for the people in his life, but I do think this is a new version of it for him. Eddie is somebody that I think Buck kind of always viewed as one of his crutches rather than the other way round. So I think seeing Eddie in such a vulnerable place is quite jarring at first. And I think one of the things I was feeling when I was playing those scenes with Ryan was like, there's almost an unsure moment from Buck of "how do I approach this and how far do I dig?" And "is this appropriate to ask you these things right now?" And it's not until Eddie starts opening up more that Buck starts to ask these deeper questions of, "Okay, it's okay to be afraid. What is it that you are afraid of?"
On an actor level, it was really nice to get to be there to watch Ryan going through these things as Eddie. And I really think the cast, as a whole, they're really bringing it in this back half of this season. I'm just excited for that to come out into the world, and for our audience to get to feast upon it.
9-1-1 airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.