Fox’s 9-1-1: Lone Star pulled off two reunions at once when it tapped Lisa Edelstein to play Gwyneth Morgan, the ex-wife of Rob Lowe’s Owen Strand.
In the 9-1-1 spinoff’s Season 2 premiere, airing Monday, Jan. 18 at 9/8c, the 126 crew responds to a military tank on the loose in downtown Austin and a human pile-up at the roller derby. Meanwhile, Owen is reunited with Gwyneth — a powerhouse New York lawyer who comes to Austin in the wake of their son T.K. (Ronen Rubinstein) being shot — just as he receives an update on his cancer.
TVLine spoke with Edelstein, whose previous TV credits include of course House and Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce, about not just working with but seeing West Wing scene partner Rob Lowe for the first time in some 20 years.
TVLINE | As a West Wing fan, your casting was a fun bit of news to report.
I know! It’s superfun. They called me [during Season 1], but the timing wasn’t going to work out. And then they had all summer to write a really good part for me. [Laughs] They did such a good job.
TVLINE | What is the state of the union between Gwyneth and Owen?
T.K., their son, was shot in Season 1, she she goes to Austin to nurse him back to health. In the meantime, Rob’s character has to go through the rest of his chemo, so he ends up getting really sick. While she’s there, the pandemic hits, so she is kind of “stuck” there for a lot longer than she expected to be — and then “the magic happens.” [Gwyn and Owen] sort of remember both why they were together to begin with, and why they got divorced. It’s a really great match. She’s really bright, she gives him as much s–t as she feels like giving him, and she sees through everything, so you can see this really fun history that they had. I had a lot of fun doing it, and it was fun also because Rob and I had history.
TVLINE | Speaking of that history, was the casting pure serendipity, or was someone out to reunite The West Wing‘s Sam and Laurie?
It was a combo. I think they really loved the idea of runiting Sam and Laurie, it gave the casting a bit more meaning. They also liked our chemistry.
TVLINE | Laurie was a memorable character from The West Wing‘s launch. At that point in late 1999/early 2000, were people flagging you down on the street, “Hey, Sam Seaborn’s hooker!”?
The funny thing is that we did all the D.C. stuff at the end of shooting Season 1. The second episode, where Sam barges into the restaurant where Laurie is with a client? We shot that 10 months after we shot the pilot, when the show was already a big hit and had a lot of momentum, so everybody in D.C. knew about my character and they were very excited to meet “the hooker.” [Senator] Al Franken was like, “Oh, you’re the hooker!” “Oh, you’re Al Franken!”
TVLINE | How recently had you and Rob seen each other, prior to Lone Star?
I hadn’t seen him since I did West Wing with him.
TVLINE | Whoa! Not even at, like, The Ivy or wherever all the fabulous celebs hang out these days?
[Laughs] Right, we all live in one house, all the famous people! No, I had never seen him, not once. The funny thing is that for the first day of West Wing I was in bed, smoking a joint in my underwear, and the first day of Lone Star was in bed, in pasties.
TVLINE | In Gwyneth’s eyes, what was the problem with Owen as a husband? What is his character flaw?
There have been some hints that his relationship to his work at the firehouse in New York took priority over everything else. They’re both also strong-willed people, and they are great together in some ways, but they also don’t let each other get away with anything at all. I think they both really love each other — it’s not a relationship that was ever filled with animosity. They just grew out of each other and moved on.
I also think 9/11 was a big part of the demise of their relationship, because he was in the [fire]house next to the Twin Towers, and the stress of that disaster was very hard on both of them. I don’t think he handled it particularly gracefully, and it killed what was left of their relationship.
TVLINE | For how long do we have you on Lone Star?
I think I’ll be there throughout the whole season. I’m heavy in the beginning, I know — we got five episodes in before the holidays.
TVLINE | And we will also see more of you on The Kominsky Method?
Oh yeah. Oh yeah. I’m very excited about Kominsky. I play Alan Arkin’s drug-addled daughter, and it’s a really fun part.
TVLINE | Now, Alan won’t be around for the third and final season….
Right, but they brought in Kathleen Turner, which was equally fun and exciting. And Paul Reiser started in Season 2, and he’s always wonderful. And Michael Douglas is a total mensch, a lovely person.
TVLINE | And with that mention of Michael Douglas, we’ve come full circle, seeing as The American President very much sired The West Wing.
That’s true! That’s true.