Everything’s bigger in Texas. Even the TV shows that take place there.
“This is the biggest show I have ever been on,” says Rob Lowe, star and executive producer of 9-1-1: Lone Star (premiering Jan. 19, airs Mondays beginning Jan. 20), FOX’s first spinoff of hit drama 9-1-1. “We have multiple units going at multiple times. We have a tornado hitting downtown Austin. You name it, we’ve got it.”
Lowe joins the 9-1-1 creative team of Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Tim Minear for Lone Star, which will take the original series’ tone and transplant it to Texas’ capital city. “It’s fun to take that torch and to run with it. And we are running,” Lowe says. “I’ve never been a part of a show that was this big, in terms of ambition, production, storylines. It’s just a massive beast.”
The beast has been growing for years. “Ryan and I have been trying to work together since Nip/Tuck, which I fell in love with and only found out years later that he’d written it for me. My agent never gave me the script,” Lowe says. “Ever since I discovered that, he and I have been trying to find the right time and the right place. I’ve just been unbelievably busy. Finally the opportunity presented itself.”
In 9-1-1: Lone Star, Lowe plays firefighter Owen Strand, who was his New York City firehouse’s lone survivor on 9/11. “He is one of the few firefighters who has experience rebuilding devastated firehouses,” Lowe says. “So when a tragedy strikes Austin’s 126 Fire Battalion, Owen is the perfect guy to come in and try to rebuild the firehouse just as he did in New York after 9/11. And a New Yorker coming into Texas presents a very different mindset and very different worldview.”
Murphy has made a career out of presenting different worldviews in everything from Glee to American Horror Story, and he’s put his slightly askew stamp on this series. Lowe says his character was pitched to him as “a heroic, funny, expansive, traditional firefighter who cares very deeply about men’s skin care.”
Lone Star will also break new ground with its casting of transgender actor Brian Michael Smith (Queen Sugar) in the role of a transgender firefighter. “Whenever you can tell stories of people who have been underrepresented historically, it’s by definition going to be really fresh and really cool,” Lowe says.
Liv Tyler costars as commander of the medical unit that occupies the firehouse. “Her energy is so particular and unique,” Lowe says of Tyler, best known for playing elf Arwen in The Lord of the Rings saga. “She has an almost otherworldly quality about her. To then take that and put it in a very practical task-based tough authoritative woman is a really cool dichotomy.”