Gina Torres Reports for Duty in ‘9-1-1: Lone Star’ Season 2 (VIDEO)

Gina Torres can guess what you’re thinking. The regal powerhouse from USA’s Suits and spinoff Pearson is joining 9-1-1: Lone Star…as an EMT? This is a woman best known for high fashion and legal threats, not sensible shoes and truck ladders.

But don’t worry, her new character, paramedic captain Tommy Vega, “is still a badass” like lawyer Jessica Pearson, Torres promises. “She’s a hero. She looms large.”

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Torres first hit our radars as the rough-and-ready Zoe Washburne on Fox’s short-lived 2002 space Western Firefly, so she’s proven she can get her hands dirty. In fact, it was her ties to that cult favorite that landed her on Lone Star: Co-creator Tim Minear, an exec producer on Firefly, invited Torres to star opposite Rob Lowe‘s vain fire captain Owen Strand as an EMT-turned-stay-at-home mother who thought she had left the ambulance in the rearview mirror. And then the pandemic hit.

With her husband’s restaurant shuttered, Tommy — like so many Americans — steps up for her family and returns to work. “We’re not looking away from reality,” Torres says. (Watch an exclusive clip of Tommy with her husband below.)

She and her character have one key thing in common: They’re both replacements. Torres takes over for Season 1 star Liv Tyler, who no longer wanted to commute from London during the pandemic. (The exit of her character, paramedic captain Michelle Blake, from Austin’s Station 126 is revealed in the season opener.)

“There’s the parallel of me coming on to set and Tommy coming into the station,” Torres notes. “You’re taking up the space of someone that was there prior who is beloved.”

But no one need doubt Torres’ (or Tommy’s) commitment. On the actress’ first day of work last October, “it was, like, 100 degrees in the sun,” she recalls. “I’m in full rescue gear, losing water weight climbing up this 15-, 20-foot set.”

And while playing a character with no need for tailored attire has its time-saving perks — “I think I’ve seen my costume designer twice in three months,” she says — Torres admits the years she spent on Suits have left her a little rusty in the action department. “I started doing all that nonsense 20 years ago. Things hurt more than they did! Now, it’s like snap, crackle, pop! Mama’s got to stretch.” Seems like she already has.

9-1-1: Lone Star, Season 2 Premiere, Monday, January 18, 9/8c, Fox