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9-1-1 Lone Star’s Brian Michael Smith Elaborates on Paul’s Heartbreaking Diagnosis: ‘It’s Terrifying’

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[Warning: The following contains spoilers from Monday’s episode of 9-1-1: Lone Star. Read at your own risk!]

After practically freezing to demise in the course of the life-changing winter storm, Paul Strickland (Brian Michael Smith) was on the right track to make a full restoration… till he wasn’t. Within the months for the reason that near-fatal fitness center collapse, Paul has been having recurring nightmares, waking up drenched in sweat and with an irregular heartbeat. On the behest of his greatest good friend Marjan (Natacha Karam), who seen that he has additionally had some dizzy spells and shortness of breath, Paul went to see a health care provider, who recognized him with Brugada syndrome, a uncommon genetic dysfunction that may trigger a life-threatening coronary heart arrhythmia.

“I will be blunt, Mr. Strickland,” the physician instructed the 38-year-old firefighter. “With out this process, I do not see you making it to 40.”

Regardless of the physician’s advice to place a pacemaker in his chest, Paul instructed Marjan that he “would moderately die a firefighter than dwell some other manner,” even going so far as to carry a heavy metallic shelf throughout a rescue at a pet retailer. However whereas cooking dinner one evening in his residence, Paul collapsed on the bottom. Marjan, sensing that one thing was amiss, kicked down Paul’s entrance door and efficiently resuscitated him—just for him to lash out at her when he found that medical doctors had implanted a pacemaker towards his needs.

TV Information spoke with Smith about how filming the episode made him rethink his personal mortality, how a lot of Paul’s sense of self is tied to his occupation, and the inevitable fallout from Paul and Marjan’s contentious remaining scene within the hospital.

Brian Michael Smith, 9-1-1 Lone Star

Brian Michael Smith, 9-1-1 Lone Star


Do you know about Paul’s impending well being struggles whenever you filmed the winter storm, and the way did you in the end react whenever you found that Paul didn’t escape the collapse utterly unscathed?
Brian Michael Smith: I did not know something. We get the scripts very quickly earlier than we begin filming, so it’s a must to roll with the punches. After we completed the snowstorm episodes, I did not know what the longer term might maintain for Paul, however I felt like that was sort of the top of that. Across the holidays is once we have been beginning to get the scripts for [Episode] 9, after which I used to be like, “OK, there’s quite a lot of Paul dialogue. What is going on on?” And once I learn the nightmare about him getting backed over [by a firetruck], I used to be like, “Wait a minute!” [Laughs.] I really feel like in the event that they have been going to kill my character, I’d have gotten a courtesy name to organize beforehand—not less than I’d hope so. I used to be like, “The place is that this going?” After which, it is like, “OK, it is a nightmare,” after which come to seek out out it is associated to this Brugada syndrome.

Then, I bought enthusiastic about how we’re actually shaking the muse in a extremely completely different solution to problem and discover Paul’s id. We explored his id as a trans man, however simply to discover this different large pillar of his id as a firefighter once I really feel like every part is lining up completely for him. That is what the snowstorm proved above all—the 126 actually do function as a household, and all of us selected one another and all of us love one another very a lot to the demise. It is like, “I am doing it with my household, these folks I actually care about, and I can actually construct my sense of self round my capabilities inside this household and as a firefighter.” So to have that threatened on this manner was, as an actor, very thrilling—however, for Paul, completely terrifying.

How did you put together to get into Paul’s headspace for this episode?
Smith: It was actually tough as a result of I do not actually take into consideration my mortality. I do know, on a bigger scale, in fact, we’re all gonna die sooner or later. However on the day-to-day of considering like, “I might die as we speak”—I haven’t got that, however that’s precisely what Paul was dealing with. So, as an actor, to organize for that, I needed to do the identical factor. It virtually felt like strolling round with a grenade in my pocket, realizing that at any minute, [Paul’s] coronary heart might simply give out and it might simply come out of nowhere. I discovered myself having somewhat extra nervousness as I used to be permitting myself to actually discover, like, “What would occur if my life ended proper now? How ready am I for that? How is that this gonna impression my household?” All of those ideas that have been the character’s ideas, I needed to, as Brian, navigate them [too]. It was sort of a heavy load. I must do my meditations and whatnot to form of disconnect me from that.

However in the future I did my boxing session and my coronary heart was beating actually, actually quick. I simply bear in mind getting very, very scared. I used to be like, “Oh man. Oh, that is an excessive amount of. I hope I am not—” The problem was permitting myself to know what dealing with my mortality appears like inside my physique, after which how I might use these reactions as I used to be doing the work within the scenes. However I needed to discover a cut-off and it was timed out completely that we took the vacation hiatus as we have been capturing it, so I did have time to form of take a break and bear in mind, “Hey, I am Brian. I’ve my very own separate life.” It allowed me to return in with the main focus and the understanding that allowed myself to discover that. It was positively difficult in ways in which I hadn’t actually skilled earlier than, however I really feel prefer it helped with the efficiency.

9-1-1 Lone Star’s Ronen Rubinstein Breaks Down T.Ok.’s Turbulent Journey to Say Goodbye to His Mother

Final season, we bought an opportunity to satisfy Paul’s mom Cynthia (Cleo King) and sister Naomi (Regina Hoyles), however this was the primary time we bought some actual backstory about his father, who died of a coronary heart assault on the age of 36. What sort of relationship do you suppose Paul had together with his father, and the way does that in the end affect his response to those orders from the physician?
Smith: Paul, in some methods, idolizes his father. He had a need to be like him in some methods, however he was conscious of the methods during which his father wasn’t wholesome and in the end triggered his personal demise. I feel quite a lot of Paul’s funding in his well being and in his bodily health might be a response to his father, whether or not he is aware of it or not. He is like, “I do not need to die younger, I do not need to undergo needlessly, and I am gonna do what I can to be liable for my life.”

I feel maybe they weren’t as shut as he needed to be, however I feel he had a deep admiration for him for positive. He talks about it in his dialog with Marjan, and I think about that he and his father might have been shut after which separated throughout a time, after which possibly that final thing that he stated to him was one thing about being your self and never being ashamed. Possibly it was a second of later stage life reconciliation that Paul carries with him.

Brian Michael Smith, 9-1-1 Lone Star

Brian Michael Smith, 9-1-1 Lone Star


Why do you suppose Paul continues to place his job earlier than his well being, even when his greatest good friend is urging him to take a breath and re-evaluate his choices?
Smith: I feel he knew when he turned a firefighter that he might die on the job. That is par for the course. He might die in a fireplace, he might die in a constructing collapse, he might die of smoke inhalation—he knew that was a part of it. And so his rationale proper now could be like, “If I drop useless due to a tough day [as a firefighter], I would moderately that than to be working in an workplace.” His id—and his sense of who he’s as a person—may be very a lot wrapped in his vocation, in his job. So to have that threatened in that manner, I feel he completely means it: “I do not need to lose this a part of who I’m, and I am going to die for it.” It is not logical by way of residing a protracted, fruitful life, but it surely makes full sense to him and his id. He made his peace dying on the job, and if it is his coronary heart that takes him out on the job, then I suppose that is the way it’s gonna be.

After waking up within the hospital, Paul confirmed Marjan the door, even when she was the one who discovered him and saved his life. How will this have an effect on his relationship with Marjan and the remainder of the 126 going ahead?
Smith: It was a tough scene to do as a result of I understand how shut they’re. Natacha and I’ve a extremely nice working relationship, and to have him lash out at her is supremely hurtful. I feel there’s quite a lot of ache that is positively going to trigger some harm after which an enormous rift [for them] to navigate by. He is mad about all the scenario, and he is taking it out on her immediately as a result of she’s there. He is additionally harm as a result of he needed to really feel a deeper sense of safety or advocacy when he was incapacitated. So once more, he is working from a spot that is not essentially logical, however that is what his emotions are. He is like, “If anyone might converse for me, I needed it to be you, and also you did not do this for me.” I feel he sends her away as a result of he is so conflicted about that—he is so grateful for her, however he is additionally so mad and harm, and he would not know what to do.

Afterwards, it is only a matter of “Can we discover our manner again to one another and be buddies? Can we discuss this, or was there a lot harm triggered?” Within the episodes following [this one], we’re all figuring it out collectively. Paul would not know, Marjan would not know, the viewers would not know. And it is attention-grabbing as a result of everyone within the firehouse, they really feel it too. After they turn out to be conscious, [they’re like], “You guys aren’t speaking very a lot. What is going on on right here?” They need to heal the connection as effectively, so that you see members of the 126, like, “What can we do to assist heal this case? We need to maintain the household intact, and we all know how a lot they imply to one another and the way that friendship helps strengthen the home.”

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I’ve to ask, as a result of it has come up a few occasions on Twitter: Do you suppose the dynamic between Paul and Marjan is only platonic, or might it turn into one thing romantic?
Smith: Oh yeah, we have been shipped, I’ve heard! They put us on a ship! [Laughs.] I do not know. I really feel like I do not like containers; I really feel like they’ve such a novel and highly effective dynamic that’s undefined. I am OK with it being undefined versus, like, “Oh, it’s very this or that.” It is clear that there is love. I personally do not suppose it is romantic love. I feel there’s extra of a fraternal [love], like a brother-sister sort of factor, and that is their dynamic inside the household.

However I felt the identical manner about Benson and Stabler [from Law & Order] and Mulder and Scully [from The X-Files], and it looks as if someplace down the road, in the event that they put them in a ship lengthy sufficient, I suppose… [Laughs.] However proper now, I benefit from the dynamic as it’s. They’ve solely been working collectively for 2 and a half years, they usually’re nonetheless attending to know one another. So who is aware of what it is gonna be?

How is that this setback going to have an effect on Paul each bodily and mentally?
Smith: It has a deep impression on him, and you will see within the episodes following [Episode] 9 [that] it is rather a lot to return again from. Once more, whenever you face your mortality, even for just some weeks the place I used to be sort of making ready, it is jarring and [you] can have quite a lot of nervousness. And when you find yourself in a job the place it’s a must to, with out thought, put your life on the road, that is gonna make it tough to do.

So we’re gonna see Paul battle with that and with the bodily limitations that he has or that he perceives that he has. As a result of when you push your self and you’ve got such a devastating consequence, what’s it going to take so that you can push your self like that once more? The viewers is gonna discover out as Paul finds out. He nonetheless needs to do it, he nonetheless has the calling, but it surely’s like, “How does he get again to with the ability to acknowledge that concern and work with it?”

Brian Michael Smith, 9-1-1 Lone Star

Brian Michael Smith, 9-1-1 Lone Star


As he begins to rediscover his place on the planet, what components of Paul’s life—each personally and professionally—would you prefer to discover going ahead?
Smith: I need to know extra about his sense of group. It’s totally effectively outlined inside the firehouse for positive, however he is been down in Austin now for a couple of years, so what’s his connection to the group? What different components of his id is he exploring? Like, his relationship with the Black group down in Austin, and his relationship with Austin on the whole. Did he ever become involved with the queer group exterior of hanging out with Carlos (Rafael Silva) and T.Ok. (Ronen Rubinstein) on the bar? I positively need to see somewhat bit extra of that.

I really like that we’re seeing much more of his physicality and athleticism, so I would prefer to discover that some extra. That baseball recreation [in Season 3, Episode 7] was so enjoyable. His physicality is actually vital to him, and it could be nice to discover that exterior of the firehouse. He is gone on a few dates, so it could be good to see what’s in retailer for him romantically if that may assist out together with his connection to the group. I really like that we bought to see Paul’s residence. I do not know in the event you bought an opportunity to see too lots of the particulars, but it surely was a extremely cool residence. I am like, “Yo, I like how Paul’s residing!” [Laughs.]

9-1-1: Lone Star airs Mondays at 8/7c—and can transfer to 9/8c beginning March 21—on FOX. Episodes can be found to stream the subsequent day on Hulu.

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