Rob Lowe, brother Chad, and son John Owen talk working together on 9-1-1: Lone Star
It's a family affair down in Texas on this week's episode of 9-1-1: Lone Star.
Monday night's episode, titled "Slow Burn," not only stars Rob Lowe as Captain Owen Strand (as always), but is written by the actor's son, John Owen Lowe, and directed by Rob's brother, Chad Lowe. Obviously, EW needed to get the Lowedown (sorry!) on this mini family reunion on set, so ahead of tonight's episode, we chatted with Rob, Chad, and John Owen about their fortuitous joining of forces.
"If you'd have told me that this would happen, I would've said you're crazy," Rob tells EW. "Just all of the things that had to line up and all of the work that had to go into it, for all three of us to get to the place where it could happen, is extraordinary and totally a blessing. I'm so glad that this is something that we all three got to experience."
"Slow Burn" sees Owen going a little stir crazy while on leave from the Austin Fire Department following surgery to remove a tumor. However, when he discovers an app that allows him to listen in on emergency calls, he's soon running into fires without the 126 crew and uncovering a possible serial arsonist — something his co-workers and friends aren't entirely convinced is real.
"At the heart of the show is the unity 126 Firehouse," says John Owen. "Watching their leader, their captain struggle is gonna lead to some intense moments. I think his journey will inform other people's journeys and there are some really crazy stories coming in the last few episodes that when I read them on the page, I'm like, How are we going to do this?"
For, Chad, that challenge was part of the appeal of working on a show like this.
"Of course, I wanted to be able to direct the show," says Chad, who's previously directed his brother on The Grinder. "Not only does it gives me a chance to work with Rob again and with John Owen, but just because of the emotional stories that they're telling, as they also explore these huge elements and set pieces. It's just a very, very big show. So it's challenging for directors."
One thing that wasn't a challenge for Chad was working with his brother. While the director acknowledges that there could be awkwardness working in a position of authority with your older brother, that's never been the case between him and Rob.
"It reminds me a lot of growing up, drawing up plays in the dirt when we played touch football," he shares. "And there's this creative element to it, there's this enthusiasm and we have so much fun. I think we bring the best out in each other, so it reminds me a lot of how we used to play as kids, Rob and I. And now to have John Owen involved in it, it's just so much fun."
As a staff writer on the show, John Owen makes sure he's on set almost every day.
"My presence [on set] is important because Rob doesn't always know his lines that well," he cracks. "And Chad is one of the nicest people I know, so I think he's hesitant to go tell him the things he needs to hear occasionally — although he's a fantastic director. We form a perfect triangle, which is interesting because, in theory, we should be able to do our jobs on our own, but together, we're perfect."
Going forward, John Owen jokes that he wants to write darker scenes for his father: "You know how Shakespeare has those characters who are like the embodiment of tragedy and shame and you're constantly feeling bad for them? That's where I'd like to see Rob's character end up at some point."
However, there's one type of scene he's very reluctant to write for his dad: a love scene.
"My bosses have been kind enough to keep those as far away from me as possible," says John Owen.
Adds Rob, "I think the only thing grosser for a kid than thinking of their parents having a love scene, would be writing a love scene."
Potential awkward moments aside, John Owen is grateful for the steep learning curve he's experienced working on the show since its first season.
"I'm learning from legitimately some of the best writers in the entire industry," he says. "They're so kind and I've learned more than you can learn in 10 years elsewhere from them. Additionally, I think I'm on an F.B.I. watchlist — we all are — because we're constantly Googling like, 'How to make a bomb? Or 'blank blows up friends' and things where, at a certain point, you're like, 'I'm definitely on a watchlist.'"
Watching his son learn and grow as a writer is a proud moment for Rob.
"I really do truthfully get a thrill and I take a picture of it on my phone every time a script comes out with Johnny's name on it," he says. "Having the one with Chad's name on it too is really, really special. Just as a dad and a brother, I'm so happy and have such a ton of gratitude that both these guys get to be a part of a company with so many people to collaborate with who are amazing, like Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk. I mean, these people are the best in television. Period. To be able to come to work in their world and for my son to learn is just so great. As a dad, you always want your kids to get the best education you can. He's getting a great one."
9-1-1: Lone Star airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Fox. Watch an exclusive clip from the episode above.