PASADENA, Calif. — Rob Lowe knows a little something about the vital roles of first responders, and he's bringing that to TV with his latest role.
He co-stars with Liv Tyler in "9-1-1: Lone Star" as a New York fire captain who relocates to Austin to launch a firehouse from the ground up.
Lowe lives in Santa Barbara, Calif., which has endured wildfires and flooding in recent years. The actor has hosted and fed firefighters and police on his property.
"I was really interested in why these men and women do what they do, what does it mean to them, how do they go and sleep in the dirt for weeks on end if it comes to that and pull the kind of hours," Lowe told a TV critics meeting Tuesday. "It was fortuitous that I had that in my own life leading up to this."
Lowe said he already knew medical lingo from his time on "Code Black," a CBS series that aired from 2016-18. "9-1-1: Lone Star" marks his return to a starring role on U.S. TV for the first time in four years; it's Tyler's first network series.
Lowe's favorite part of the new show is "it's the only network procedural you'll see where the male hero is obsessed with men's skin care." There's a keto diet joke in the pilot (Lowe promotes the Atkins eating plan and has his own skin care line in real life).
Ryan Murphy ("Nip/Tuck"), Brad Falchuk and Tim Minear co-created and co-executive produce the show.
"Let's face it, I'm not a stranger to looking in the mirror," Lowe said. "They knew how to write for me so any of that crazy stuff is probably coming from them knowing me as well as I know myself."
Murphy once wrote a role in "Nip/Tuck" for Lowe, but his agents never passed it onto the actor even though he loved the show.
"It's the humor, the weirdness, the randomness that we get to weave into this," Lowe said. "There's a lot of ‘Nip/Tuck’ tone in this."
The series debuts Jan. 19 on Fox after the NFC championship game, with a second episode airing Jan. 20 in its regular time slot, 7 p.m.
In preparation for the role, Lowe trained with a Los Angeles Fire Department unit near Dodger Stadium. But his famous face posed a problem with real-life victims.
"People are like, ‘I don't feel safe with Rob Lowe standing there. I don't feel like the real experts showed up,' " he said, smiling.