After a decade of brawling in boardrooms on USA Network, Gina Torres is getting back into the field on 9-1-1: Lone Star, and she’s loving every minute of it. “As fabulous as it was playing Jessica Pearson, I feel safer climbing rigs and getting shot at than I did walking around in 5.5-inch stilettos for hours,” she tells TVLine.
That exact scenario unfolds in the Fox drama’s second season premiere (Monday, 9/8c) when Torres’ character Tommy Vega — who steps in to replace departing paramedic captain Michelle Blake (Liv Tyler) — takes part in a dangerous medical rescue mission atop a cell tower.
“I’m a physical person, and I love doing my own stunts,” Torres says, adding that she filmed this particular scene on her very first day. “They were like, ‘You’re going to climb this rig… and you’re going to get shot at.’ That was Day 1. But pretty soon, I was just like, ‘I remember this! Being outside, having people shoot at you in 110-degree weather, I’ve done this!'”
Check out an exclusive clip of Tommy and Owen (Rob Lowe) in action below:
Unfortunately, Tommy doesn’t necessarily share her portrayer’s confidence. “Like so many parents, she’s rejiggering her life and reinventing how she’s going to provide for herself and her family,” Torres says. “Their restaurant closed down, so her husband’s out of work, and she has this incredible skillset in a field that absolutely has needs. So she goes back to work after an eight year absence, not knowing if her badass card has been revoked.” (Spoiler alert: It has not been revoked.)
“[Executive producer] Tim Minear is completely responsible for bringing me onto this show and drawing such a great character for me to play,” Torres adds. “He literally made it impossible for me to say no. I’ve loved his brain for almost 20 years, since we got to work on Firefly together. To get this beautiful offer in the middle of this crazy pandemic, where I didn’t know how or if I was going to work again, was mind-blowing and has been nothing but a blessing since Day 1. It wraps up all the reasons why I became an actor in the first place.”
Read on for more of our Q&A with Torres, including the on-set reunion she wasn’t even aware of:
TVLINE | We learn in the premiere that Tommy is old friends with Judd and Grace, which is funny, because you and Jim Parrack have worked together before.
Wait, have we?
TVLINE | According to IMDb, he guest-starred in an episode of Stand Off with you.
[Laughs] Really? Wow. That was one of those shows, not unlike Suits, where I was not a part of the action. I was the lieutenant who was somewhere else telling people what to do. There were so many guest stars on that show that I never got to meet or work with, as there were on Suits, so it’s entirely possible he was on that show and I just had no idea.
TVLINE | Something else I was wondering: Do you happen to know what Tommy is short for?
I actually have no idea. And I asked, I did! I was like, “Thomassina?” I think Tim said, “Maybe.” He wouldn’t get specific.
TVLINE | Lastly, give us a little tease. What can we expect from Tommy vs. the volcano in Episode 2?
I win! [Laughs] I believe it’s already been teased that it comes at a great cost to the team, and I think that’s all I can say.
Are you excited to see Torres on 9-1-1: Lone Star? Hit PLAY on the video above, then drop a comment with your thoughts below.