Jennifer Love Hewitt Previews More of Maddie's Relationships in '9-1-1' Season 3

Michael Maloney
Q&A Jack Zeman / FOX

Don’t be surprised if Maddie Buckley’s (Jennifer Love Hewitt) phone rings off the hook in the Season 3 premiere of 9-1-1 tonight. In fact, the emergency phone operator’s line likely will be flooded (groan!) after a tidal wave sweeps over Santa Monica Pier, creating life-threatening situations for those who happen to be fatefully visiting the tourist attraction.

TV Insider spoke to Hewitt, who joined the show last season, as to what viewers can expect to see. Plus, we touch upon two of Hewitt’s other beloved series Party of Five and Ghost Whisperer.

How does it feel having going into Season 3 no longer being the new kid on the block?

Jennifer Love-Hewitt: It’s good. It’s exciting. For my first season on the show Maddie was in a different place. We’re finding her now where she’s trying to live a more normal life given everything that went on with her [leaving her abusive husband, Doug, now deceased]. Her job as a 9-1-1 operator is tricky – people in that position are supposed to be stoic, but this is a TV series! People don’t want to see you not doing anything for an hour. We spent last season finding the balance and where it would make sense to tap into something different [emotionally].

(Mathieu Young/ FOX)

Is there any preview you can give for the season opener?

Let me just say that Los Angeles is not safe with this show!

Have you ever had to call 9-1-1 in real-life?

Yes. I thought someone had broken into my house so, I called 9-1-1. The operator told me to hide in my closet. She stayed on the phone with me. It was in the middle of the night. They sent a helicopter and cops, all this stuff. It ended up being a raccoon [making the noise] that had dug a hole [into my house]. I felt very stupid but the 9-1-1 operator was very helpful and very lovely. I was very grateful.

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The exec producer also previews Ronda Rousey's new character.

Given Maddie’s job as a 9-1-1 operator, did you see much of the cast last season? Has that changed this season?

We joke about that. Most of the time when I’d see them for the first time, which could have been halfway through last season, I’d say, ‘Hi, I’m Jennifer! We’re on the same show!’ We’d laugh about it! This season, so far [there’s more integration] now that Maddie is sort of dating Chimney (Kenneth Choi) and Buck (Oliver Stark) is her brother.

Oliver Stark in 9-1-1 (Jack Zeman / FOX)

Was coming onto the show with Maddie not interacting with everyone as much in the beginning difficult for you?

No. Everyone has been really welcoming. I do think the show did both me and Maddie a service by giving her a relative. It’s helped both of us that way.

Have you ever had psychic experiences similar to ones your character Melinda Gordon had on Ghost Whisperer?

Yes, definitely. This is less about my own personal experience but when we were doing Ghost Whisperer, I went ghost-busting with James Van Praagh (co-executive producer) and Mary Ann Winkowski (consultant). We went into people’s homes and I saw them do what they do. It was pretty extraordinary. I do feel there’s [something out there].

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'Party of Five' Reboot: 8 Dream Roles for the Original Cast

The reboot is recasting, but that doesn't mean some familiar faces can't show up!

A Party of Five reboot is coming to Freeform in January. If producers reach out to you for a guest spot as either Sarah or other participation are you open for that?

Of course! Here’s me, after I heard the show was coming back – I was in my house waiting for them to call! ‘They should be calling me any moment!’ Then, I realized it’s a reboot [not a revival].

(Jack Zeman/FOX)

Has playing Maddie, who has also been a nurse, sharpen your medical/response skills in real life?

[Laughs] No! I have anxiety, so I try very hard not to look for trouble! I have had experiences since joining the show that were emergencies. I was driving along the road and saw two people who’d gotten into an accident so, I pulled over and did what I could do help. Another time, an older woman had tripped over one of those [motorized scooters] left on the sidewalk and she had cracked her head open! So, I sat with her after another woman and I had called 9-1-1 and told her first responders were on their way. I told her not to worry. It was nice to see how quickly they got there.

Being on the show has made me aware of people and the importance of an instant connection. A first responder who showed up recognized me. He was like, ‘Oh. Hey! Good job!’ I said, ‘Thank you! Good job to you, too!’

So, do you think you’d be good in an emergency?

No! I’m very emotional! When my son was getting stitches one time, two nurses came out to tell me to get it together! They said, ‘Your son needs to see your [calm] face.’ I was like, ‘I’m sorry, but this is my baby!’

9-1-1, Season 3 Premiere, Monday, September 23, 9/8c, Fox