Oliver Stark interview: 9-1-1, Buck without Abby, connecting with Maddie

Oliver Stark -- Photo credit: Teren Oddo -- Acquired via Persona PR
Oliver Stark -- Photo credit: Teren Oddo -- Acquired via Persona PR /

Oliver Stark is 9-1-1’s Buck, a character who received one of the biggest transformations last season. Buck is back and Oliver shares what we can expect from him this season.

Oliver Stark’s Buck was one of the 9-1-1 characters to get the biggest transformations. Initially starting as one of the guys, he found love with Abby. It was heartbreaking to see Abby leave him to go on her own journey of self-discovery after her mother’s death (although she totally needed to do that).

9-1-1 Season 2 sees Buck’s estranged sister turn up in his life. We saw just how that played out last night and wasn’t he the sweetest ever. Once the shock disappeared, he was immediately the protective brother. This is the guy you want in your life.

Oliver Stark sat down with us in this exclusive interview to share what his favorite moments of the first season were, what he’s looking forward to us seeing in the second season, and what it was like filming with Jennifer Love Hewitt.

HR: How’s filming? It must be busy.

Oliver Stark: Yeah, it is, but busy is good. It’s exactly what we want. I am trying to keep my head above water and keep powering through.

HR: Buck went through such a transformation last season. I’ll admit I didn’t like him at first, but he really few on me.

Stark: What?

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HR: Well, Abby was just the best thing that happened to him.

Stark: I totally agree, which is often the cast. A woman’s influence can be a fantastic thing and, yeah, I think he always had a good heart.

Even when he was acting out, he would help other people. But she certainly steadies him and I think helped him develop a bit more focus. It was really lovely to get to go on that journey and get to experience that.

HR: That’s the thing. He was just one of the boys and it was that attitude that I didn’t like. But like you said, he did always love helping people. What was your favorite save of the season before I get into everything else?

Stark: This is perhaps the wrong answer, but I liked the rollercoaster. He didn’t get to save the guy, but there was a lot that he was able to learn from that. It was a chance for the responsibility and importance of the job to hit him and make him realize it’s not all fun and games. This is life and death and if you don’t get there in time, if you don’t manage to help, people will die. So, it was really, a good thing to get to deal with that so early on.

HR: It was so shocking, too. We weren’t expecting that.

Stark: Yeah, I think in TV and movies, nine times out of 10, you expect them to save the life, so it’s always a bit jarring and shock to the system when things don’t go that way. I think it’s a brave thing for a television show to do.

HR: Especially so early on.

Stark: Yeah, and especially when you’re trying to give off a mostly hopeful picture of first responders. But I think it’s important that sometimes they do what they can but they don’t always do what they’d like.

HR: What was it like playing Buck after that scene, going through the emotions of losing someone but learning so much from that moment?

Stark: It was really rewarding, I would say. As you said, he was kind of one of the lads, he was a bit of a boy, which was fine. But for the audience and for an actor, that will get old pretty quick. So to have that step immediately put in there was a rewarding experience for me to get to play through.

And I think it was just real to show somebody as many layers, rather than this one 2D character. Which is exactly what you can expect to work on a show with these kinds of creators behind it. You can expect the characters to be fully fleshed out and feel like real people.

9-1-1 — “Under Pressure” — Cr: Michael Becker/FOX. — Acquired via FOX Flash
9-1-1 — “Under Pressure” — Cr: Michael Becker/FOX. — Acquired via FOX Flash /

HR: Moving onto Abby. She’s left now, what’s that like for Buck? She did have such an influence on him. What’s going on in his mind now?

Stark: We continue to see that influence as we move into the second season. Her character, she’s not physically there but is still very much a part of his life. We find him living in her apartment and still clinging onto that relationship, which I think is a positive thing for him.

As we go on, certain other characters hint that it’s time for him to start moving on but he’s certainly not ready to do that just yet. He has a lot of love for her still.

HR: It’s so sweet.

Stark: I know.

HR: So, then Maddie comes in. I get that they’re estranged and I guess that’s because of her backstory. What’s it like for Buck to have her back in his life?

Stark: Yeah, they’ve not seen each other for a few years or communicated with each other for a few years, but Buck is like, I’ve always viewed him as like a puppy, a really young, yellow labrador. Even though there has been animosity or they haven’t been in contact, it’s like as soon as you come home, he’s jumping up at you. He’s very family orientated.

As soon as she steps back in his life, he wants to take care of her and support her, which he does end up doing.

HR: So, we’ll get to see a lot of Buck and Maddie together?

Stark: Yeah, certainly! Especially from what we’ve shot so far, which is lovely. It brings a new dynamic to the show. We’ve not had a sibling relationship in there, so it’s been great on that front. And it’s been great for me to have so many scenes with Jennifer, who is an amazing actress and has so much experience behind her. She’s been working since she was nine, so she’s a complete pro, so it’s really an honor.

HR: Yeah, I remember watching her on Party of Five.

Stark: She looks exactly the same.

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HR: Yeah! What’s it like working with her? She seems like such an awesome woman as well.

Stark: She’s unbearable…no, she’s great! We have so much fun together. IT’s funny. The first time we met was doing some press back in May or April in New York and we hadn’t crossed paths during the day. Then there was this party in the evening and we saw each other across the room. She beckoned me over and I came running.

Literally, within minutes, we were making fun of each other as if we were brother and sister. So that relationship feels very natural and we’ve very much fallen into a brother-sister, sibling rivalry and making fun of each other. It’s a lot of fun and every time there’s a scene coming up with the two of us, I very much look forward to it.

Photo credit: 9-1-1/FOX, acquired from FOX Flash
Photo credit: 9-1-1/FOX, acquired from FOX Flash /

HR: What’s the relationship between Buck and Bobby like moving forward? Bobby was such a fatherly figure for Buck and it was so great to see that relationship build, so do we get to see more of that?

Stark: That’s how I’ve always seen that relationship too, like father and son, mentor-mentee. The last season left Bobby on his date with Athena, so he’s over there a little bit, but there’s still some stuff between Bobby and Buck, where you see that relationship is there. I think we’ll always see that, even when it’s not so explicitly shown. We always feel it whether it through their interactions or not.

One of my favorite moments so far for them is in the fourth episode and it’s just a private conversation between the two of them. It felt like one of the scenes from last year and I’m very much a fan of that relationship between the two of them.

HR: So that’s one of your favorite scenes. Are there any others you’re looking forward to playing out on the screen?

Stark: Yeah, without big spoilers, a lot of the promotion has been the big earthquake, which we’ll deal with over the first few episodes. There’s so much, it’s very reminiscent for me of the plane crash last year. There was so much effort and money that went into that and it’s very much the same with this earthquake. It’s going to be a big set piece and big spectacle. There are so many moving parts to it that I can’t wait for an audience to see it put together but also for myself to see it all put together to see how it all falls into place.

Obviously, there are parts that I’m involved in and parts that I’m not, so obviously there are days I’m not there when I’m not involved. To see how they went…yeah, I think it’s going to be a TV moment and a lot of people are going to enjoy it.

HR: I loved the plane crash episode. I know I shouldn’t say I love a plane crash episode, but the whole episode was so amazingly done. I’m looking forward to the earthquake.

Stark: I think the earthquake is bigger and I think it spans a few episodes. Some of the sets they’ve built for this is like beyond belief for me. I feel like I’m walking among a $150 million feature film set. Some of the stuff they built is incredible and I know that’s going to pay off when we watch it.

Oliver Stark — Photo credit: Teren Oddo — Acquired via Persona PR
Oliver Stark — Photo credit: Teren Oddo — Acquired via Persona PR /

HR: This season there are more episodes with a fall show. What’s that move been like for you guys?

Stark: We are doing more. I think it’s 16. It doesn’t feel that different on my end. We take it one episode at a time and get the script when we get the script. We turn up and do our best to do our job.

I like to take it one day at a time. The work is the work regardless and I think that’s the same throughout the cast.

HR: I must have been exciting to know you’ve been bumped up to the fall. You know the show is doing well what that happens.

Stark: Yeah, you know the show, I think we were all very conscious and aware while we were shooting last season and while it was airing that this show was doing well. That was a nice confidence boost to keep us going. Yeah, we all had a good feeling and it’s nice to be a part of something that’s resonating with so many people.

I think when you’re involved in any type of artistic expression, you want there to be an audience. So I’m very much enjoying the fact the show is reaching so many people.

HR: What’s it been like being a first responder show? There are so many others that take this but none really felt as big. The rollercoaster episode added the shock, the plane crash episode was big, what’s that been like for you going into this and continuing it?

Stark: I think this job has been eye-opening for me as to what first responders do in the broad sense of their job. I, quite naively, thought firefighters fought fires and that’s it, whereas, especially here in California, 80% of their calls are medical.

9-1-1 — “7.1” — Cr: FOX. — Acquired via FOX Flash
9-1-1 — “7.1” — Cr: FOX. — Acquired via FOX Flash /

HR: Wow!

Stark: Just seeing that side of the job and, I think a lot of other first responder shows, the firefighters fight fires, the police arrest people, and it’s regimented like this. But this show has been so successful because we’re showing there’s so much more to their job.

And then we go home with them and see them as people and that’s so important. These people come in every day and they put their lives as collateral to save strangers and then they go home to their wives, husbands, and kids. They have to try to have a normal life and the difficulty that it must be to shrug things off they may have seen that day. How do they come home and have a nice dinner with the family?

It’s really been eye-opening in that sense, just appreciating and having a higher level of respect for these people. When you call 9-1-1, they come. They don’t say “oh, I don’t know. That sounds a bit too difficult.” They show up and they put themselves on the line. I think we’re very lucky to have that.

HR: What you were saying about going home with them, it’s one of the things I found refreshing about 9-1-1. Most other shows focus on the love lives but this was actually on home life. I found it so sweet when Buck was so new to this relationship with Abby but he went searching for her mum with her. It was so cute and realistic. It showed that other side to Buck.

Stark: Yeah, this show is packaged as a procedural but, in my head, I don’t see it as that. That to me says it’s about the work but I believe it’s more about the people and their lives and how work fits into their lives. I think the show is about the people and the characters and all the other stuff is just a bonus.

Next. 5 reasons you should be watching 9-1-1. dark

What did you think of last night’s 9-1-1? Are you excited to see more of what’s to come from Oliver Stark this season? Share in the comments below.

9-1-1 Season 2 with Oliver Stark, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and more airs Mondays at 9/8c on FOX.