9-1-1 star Oliver Stark on Buck's new single life — and what's to come in season 6

·4 min read
9-1-1 star Oliver Stark on Buck's new single life — and what's to come in season 6

Season 6 of 9-1-1 finds Buck turning a new leaf.

At the end of season 5, Buck (Oliver Stark) split from girlfriend Taylor (Megan West) — and the 118 firefighter is embracing being single by choice for the first time, well, ever. "He's certainly over his breakup, which obviously was his decision, but that doesn't mean it's always easy," Stark tells EW of his character. "But I think he's really working on himself, and growing into a person that is ready to take on more responsibility and become the kind of firefighter that he wants to be."

In the season 6 premiere on Monday, audiences saw Buck vying for the position of interim captain as Bobby (Peter Krause) prepared to head off on his honeymoon, a move Stark says had less to do with getting over the breakup and more to do with Buck wanting to be a better man.

"For the first time, he's learning to depend on himself and he's going about that through various methods — whether it be he's reading books with theories on how to change your life, or trying to show the 118 that he's ready to step up," says the actor. "I think being a firefighter is such a huge part of his identity. He hangs his hat on that. I'm sure he tells everybody he meets. It's the first thing that he leads with. So I think it's only natural to him to want to progress and continue on in that career.

That said, "I think he may be getting a little bit too far ahead of himself too soon in his career," Stark adds. "He's a very capable firefighter, and he's been in some extreme situations, but — while he may feel ready for it — experience is not necessarily on his side when it comes to just time in the job."

The actor sees a lot of similarities between his character's evolution from playboy to responsible adult and his own: "I think that journey is one well-trodden for people in their twenties — certainly something that I experienced, finding out who you are through relationships, rather than maybe spending that time by yourself and working it out on your own terms. It's always nice, as an actor, to dig into yourself and almost be an archeologist and excavate some of your own experiences and explore yourself. It is been quite therapeutic for me to be able to dig this stuff up about myself through Buck."

9-1-1 Season 6
9-1-1 Season 6

FOX Oliver Stark on the '9-1-1' season 6 premiere.

The season 6 premiere ends with Buck deciding not to get a new couch to replace the one Taylor took with her, but rather move his chair in its place. "There's some symbolism in the sense of it is a one-person seating situation," acknowledges Stark, who explains that they filmed that moment a few different ways: "We discussed whether or not he was dragging that chair over, or if it was going to be picked up and put down, and the differences that implied. In the end, they went with the picking up because it's a much stronger, 'This is my life now.' And then same thing once I sat down, we played it where it's just like, 'doom and gloom is ahead of me' or a little smile creeping across his face and 'I'm ready to do this.' And I'm glad that's the option they went with. I think it's much more hopeful and that he is he's ready to take on this challenge of becoming his own man."

What other challenges will Buck face this season? Stark previews that "he's got some really big life decisions that he never expected to be faced with being dropped on his plate. There's all this progress that we're going to see him go through in the second episode, he has a lot to deal with. Then, come the end of episode 4, it's going to be really put to the test. It's almost, 'You've been doing this work in theory, but can you follow through in practice?'"

But is he going to get a couch?

"Well, I'll tell you this much," teases Stark, "we're on episode 7 and he hasn't yet."

9-1-1 airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.

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