‘9-1-1’s Oliver Stark Promises a Renewed ‘Lightness’ to Buck After His Origin Story
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 4, Episode 5 of 9-1-1, “Buck Begins.”]
9-1-1 does a deep, deep dive into Evan “Buck” Buckley (Oliver Stark) for his origin story episode, flashing back to his childhood all the way up to him meeting the rest of the 118, now his found family, and letting him in on a major family secret.
Buck and Maddie’s (Jennifer Love Hewitt) brother, Daniel, had leukemia. No one in the family had been a match, and the firefighter now knows he was made to hopefully be one. But Daniel died.
“So much of the Buck we have come to know over the years falls into place once you understand what his childhood was and why he was in fact born,” Stark tells TV Insider.
Here, he goes inside “Buck Begins” and teases what’s next.
Between the family scenes and the fire, was this your most physically and emotionally strenuous episode?
Oliver Stark: There was so much adrenaline that it didn’t feel, at the time, that physically damaging [until] the next days. It felt like I had to carry this through. Filming, it actually felt like more of an honor to carry that tank around or run through this fire or lift this and climb up here because I knew it was something good. It was once we called cut for the final time that my heart fell out of my chest and my back shriveled up.
How do you feel about Buck, this character you’ve been playing for four years, after this episode?
I felt for a very long time very connected to him and moving out of this episode more so than ever. We’ve gone on a journey together and I’ve just come to understand him more and more. I’m really excited for him to get to start to move past this and take a bit more of a hold of his own life.
Will there be a sense of a weight lifted off his shoulders even if he hadn’t known enough to think there might be one there?
Absolutely. There was an unknown but it was something that was holding him back. We even see as soon as Episode 6 a lightness start to come back into him and he starts to enjoy himself a little bit more. We move into this new phase of Buck where, although obviously the trauma is not completely gone, he can start to walk down that path to healing.
Just because the truth is out doesn’t mean that changes everything with Buck’s parents, right?
As hard as his parents were on him — and that relationship was obviously extremely problematic for Buck — they too were dealing with something extremely traumatic in the loss of a son. Maybe they didn’t deal with it in the best way, but it wasn’t necessarily their fault. In that final scene with them, he, too, is starting to understand that. They can start to move towards reconciliation.
What was your approach to those scenes?
I thankfully have a very good relationship with my parents so it wasn’t like I had too much to draw from. But I do try to understand as much as possible that feeling of never quite being enough or never quite accepting or feeling love from them. It was quite rewarding for me to step into and I’m very thankful we had Dee Wallace and Gregory Harrison who are such fantastic actors. I got to just play off of them and they brought exactly what they needed to, so they made my job a lot easier.
Would Buck have done anything differently in that fire if he hadn’t been dealing with everything with his family?
He might have done it for different reasons. When he hears there’s someone left behind, he’s [never] going to want to leave the building. Because of the circumstance, him running off into that fire is as much to save himself.
It’s fitting the 118 came to his rescue because they never felt more like his family than in this episode.
It’s the sense of found family. His immediate family has never been there for him in quite the way he wanted, but through them stepping into that fire at the last moment to save him, he can really accept now that’s the family he needs and they love him in a way that is necessary for him to continue in his job and life because he’s found that stability through the people who have taken up that family role.
Are Buck and Maddie closer as a result of everything coming out?
I think so. Anytime you go through such an intense falling out between two people who are so close, coming out of it the other side is only going to make that bond stronger. By her showing she kept all those postcards, Buck realizes finally and fully for the first time just how much of a rock she has always been for him, whether she was [with] him or not.
What kind of uncle will Buck be?
I can’t wait to get into those scenes. I assume he’s going to have the biggest smile on his face and be the most loving, protective uncle the baby could need. … Albert [Chimney’s brother, played by John Harlan Kim] can take second place uncle.
Buck’s in therapy at the right time.
We’ve seen him deal with so much over the years — being trapped under a firetruck, being in the middle of a tsunami — there was certainly a lot for him to process. Also therapy can be useful even before the big events happen and it’s not that something needs to be very wrong. It’s going to certainly help him continue to process everything he is struggling with.
We haven’t filmed any more of him actually in those scenes, but it’s not going away. It’s still very much a part of him and I really enjoy [that] he’s very proud of it. In the first couple episodes, he was unsure if he should speak about it, but as we go on, he says, “Oh, my therapist said this, my therapist said that.” That’s a really positive thing for the show to put out there.
What are we going to see from his love life?
As he continues to work on himself, he’s going to try and put himself out there to varying degrees of success. It’s not going to be easy. He’s not been in that dating pool for a long time, so it’s going to take him a little while to find his feet.
9-1-1, Mondays, 8/7c, Fox