911’s Buck Is Alive: Oliver Stark on Coma Dream and Brother Daniel

SPOILER ALERT: This interview contains spoilers from Monday’s episode of Fox’s “9-1-1“, titled” In another life “.

Well, “9-1-1” fans, you can stop holding your breath, because Evan “Buck” Buckley (Oliver Stark) came back to life after his literally shocking “death” from a lightning strike on the March 6 episode. But before returning to us, and the 118, Buck had to travel through a world created in his comatose brain in which his older brother, Daniel (played by “Mad Men” alum Aaron Staton), had lived and Buck never became a firefighter.

During the episode, Buck has a very “it’s a wonderful life” experience as he learns what the lives of Bobby (Peter Krause), Maddie (Jennifer Love Hewitt), Eddie (Ryan Guzman), Chimney (Kenneth Choi ) and more of his friends and family would be as if that one thing had changed.

Variety spoke with Stark about Buck’s death and his return to lifeall the easter eggs hidden in Buck’s coma world for “9-1-1” fans and where Buck goes from here for the rest of Season 6.

How did the “9-1-1” writers let you know you were going to die this season, and what was your initial reaction to the plan?

Oliver Stark: [Showrunner] Kristen Reidel called me and said, “So I have some news.” I said, “OK…” She said, “You’re going to die,” and I didn’t want to respond immediately, just in case there was more to that statement, and she actually followed up with, ” Of course, not forever.” To which I said, “Is it obvious?” And she said, “It’s mine.” It was nice to get that phone call before anything came out. The funniest part for me, because in the original version of the script, and it ended up changing when we shot it, it literally says, “Buck is dead.” And I’ve had various crew members who aren’t necessarily aware of what comes next calling me out and saying, “No! You’re kidding!” It was very touching, to see that they actually cared.

There’s a lot of good stuff in Buck’s coma world – like his living older brother, but there’s also some terrible stuff. Maddie is still with her abusive ex-husband. How does Buck weigh them as he works to get back to his real life?

Rigid: It plays well on the fact that in life, often there are sacrifices that are made. So if you want one aspect of your life to be really enjoyable, then maybe sometimes you give up on another aspect. Obviously, in this case, being able to have an older brother left his sister worse off. I think, as positive as this world is, he definitely comes out of it, for the most part anyway, feeling more at peace and fulfilled by his real life. I think if you gave him the option to choose between the two, and in a sense he kind of has that option, he chooses his real life every time.

When Buck wakes up, he notes how different almost everyone was in his coma world except Hen. Why do you think, in Buck’s subconscious, Hen would be no different without Buck?

Rigid: I think it shows that Hen is kind of a character who has always been a guide for him. And as we explore in the episode, he had such an impact on the lives of all the other 118 members. It’s not that he doesn’t have [made an impact] about Hen’s life, but it’s much more of a way where he was able to learn from her, rather than offering her life-changing advice or life-changing advice the other way around. I don’t think that’s necessarily a negative thing and, in fact, quite a positive thing, that he just sees her as brilliant as she is. And it comes from his deep, dark subconscious.

Why do you think Bobby, who died in Buck’s coma world, is ultimately the one who pushes Buck to wake up?

Rigid: I really see it as, and I know a lot of people do, a father-son bond. I had imagined scenes in the past, when I first knew Buckley’s parents were coming to town, of Buck saying to his dad, “You’re not my dad. He’s my father figure.” I really believe that’s how important this relationship is. So I think it’s only fair that it’s Bobby who helps bring Buck back to himself. In Episode 10 , there’s a scene with Buck and Bobby, and Buck is trying to find Bobby’s chili recipe and he says to Bobby, “You’re always the one to help me figure things out. And obviously, you are.” as we move forward.

The episode is peppered with numerous callbacks to important moments in the lives of Buck and the 118 throughout the six-season “9-1-1” run. What were your favorites?

Rigid: I loved this stuff. As a fan of the show, I think it’s such a fun thing to do. Maybe I shouldn’t say this, because you can’t miss what you don’t know, but I know there were still more that they wanted to try to fit in, but for reasons practices, this was ultimately not possible. One of those who didn’t end up on the show that I liked the idea the most was me and Bobby. We had a really fun scene in season one where we delivered a bunch of babies in a yoga studio. I know there was an idea of ​​us walking around the hospital and passing three women, clearly pregnant and in yoga attire.

In his coma life, Buck is a teacher, like his parents. Is it really because he is following in his parents’ footsteps in this world where he has a good relationship with them?

Rigid: I think the big difference for me that puts everything in a different direction from his real life is the fact that Daniel is alive. I think a lot of his career as a firefighter comes from this idea, even on a subconscious level, that he was born to help people. He failed in the real world to be able to help Daniel, and I think he went into firefighting, partly because he’s trying to make up for it and trying to be the hero to which he was born. Whereas, in his comatose dream, Daniel is alive, so he obviously doesn’t have to act like a hero. He doesn’t have to run into fires and pull people out of them to fulfill that need to be the hero he never could be. So he took another path. And he’s still a person who obviously cares and wants to help; as a teacher, it’s in a bit more understated sense.

How did you work to build a relationship with Aaron Staton, who plays Daniel, seeing as Buck never had the chance to build one with his real brother?

Rigid: It was funny because in the world of television, things sometimes go very quickly. He wasn’t actually – when he first came to shoot – aware that he was dead in the real world. I was like, “Oh! Do I have a story to tell you,” and I had to explain everything that we were doing and what the real world was like for Buck and who he is for Buck in the real world. And so I think thanks to me being the one who was able to explain this to him, we very quickly built a really great relationship. He was really great to have around. In fact, when he was done, Jennifer and I were like “Can you be alive in the real world now? We really like it and can we just find a way to bring you back and then we can keep doing this as three siblings?”

Where does Buck go from here, not just personally, but also in his relationship with his parents and his return to work?

Rigid: In fact, we won’t see his parents again this season. I think it’s implied that they’ll be sticking around for a little while, but the next time we find him, they won’t necessarily be around. While it’s left at the end of episode 11 in a pretty positive place, one thing that I really appreciate about this story is that sometimes a thing on TV where the story has to move forward pretty quickly, you find yourself as if it had never happened, very quickly; That is not the case here. It’s something that will weigh heavily on Buck’s mind, the fact that he came so close to death. It won’t necessarily be the easiest path for him. He’s someone who outwardly wants to give the impression that he’s okay, but he’s going to have a hard time knowing how close this is all to an end. It’s going to take him a while to get back on the pitch, and I’d go so far as to say that when he does come back, he’s going to be left with some new skills.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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