'9-1-1' Star Oliver Stark on Buck's Big Decision and His 'Season of Self-Growth'

Because Buck is so focused on sperm donation and work, 'he almost has blinders on when it comes to romance,' the actor says.
by Amy Amatangelo — 

Oliver Stark (right) on '9-1-1'


Warning: This story contains spoilers for the seventh episode of 9-1-1 Season 6, titled "Cursed." Read at your own risk!

Evan "Buck" Buckley (Oliver Stark) has always been a bit of a risk taker when it comes to rescuing people on Fox's 9-1-1. For example, early in the sixth season, Buck stood in the path of a moving car to get it to stop. 

"I don't think he's ever going to lose that gung-ho attitude when it comes to saving people and putting himself on the line," Stark tells Metacritic with a laugh.

But, as it turns out, he also helps people in other life-affirming ways — namely deciding to become a sperm donor for his college friend and his wife.

"We've seen over the years that Buck has always been a character who is wanting to help people," Stark says. "Obviously through his job as a firefighter, but we've also seen in his personal life, he's always willing to go above and beyond. So I was not surprised that he ended up saying yes [to this]."

In the seventh episode of Season 6, titled "Cursed," Buck, after many failed attempts, finally made his donation. 

Here, the London-born Stark talks to Metacritic about what's next for Buck, how his character has changed over the season so far, and what familiar faces from his past may be showing up in the back half of this season. 

During "Cursed," Buck was continually thwarted in his effort to make his donation. It was played for a bit of comic relief, but this is actually a pretty serious thing that he's doing. 

I was very interested to see how it will affect him once the reality of it hits him — because I don't even think, as he's going through trying to make the donation, he quite realizes the heaviness that it may end up placing on him emotionally. So, that is still to be explored. Until it happens you can't quite understand what it might feel like. We are currently shooting Episodes 10 and 11 and it is something that is still being discussed and it's absolutely something that will continue in the back half of the season and continue to inform the decisions that he's making and weigh on him differently through different situations.

I know you've talked to real life firefighters over the years to prepare for and play  this role. Did you talk to anyone or visit any sperm banks to learn more about this process?

As an actor there are two ways you can approach things, and that is obviously one of them. And the other is, if this were happening to me how would I feel about it? Look into yourself. I think with something so specific and technical as a firefighter it's always good to speak to somebody who has lived it. The sperm donor is a much more emotional decision so I think asking questions of yourself in those moments can be equally as powerful. 

Buck has always been a little bit impulsive. How have you seen him grow over the course of the series?

He's the youngest in the firehouse, so it makes sense for him to be the one really trying to figure himself out, and I think in that growth we've seen him take one step forward and two steps back, which, to me, feels very true to life. Certainly at the end of your 20s, as you enter into your 30s, it's a thing I personally have experienced. I've experienced it alongside him. It's been a nice reflection of everything that I'm going through. I get to explore it and look at it through a different lens through the character of Buck. There have been these moments where our lives have blurred together. I do very much feel like I've been on that journey with him.

How will that manifest itself for the rest of this season?

Something that I am realizing is there's been this theme this season [of] he's looking and learning from his colleagues a lot more. We've seen him going to Hen a couple of times already this season and the midseason premiere there's going to be some stuff of him going and seeking advice from Bobby. I do think he's opened himself up to learning from those around him. He obviously has always had such deep respect for them but I think now he's realizing there's something more than just admiration he can use here. He can actually improve who he is as a firefighter just by taking a step back and watching them work. Realizing that you don't know everything already. It's that old saying that the wise man is the man who knows that he knows nothing. I think Buck, when we first met him, thought he knew everything but is very quickly realizing that there's a lot more out there and he has to stop and listen sometimes.

Buck broke up with Taylor at the end of last season. Is there any new romance coming up for him?

There's nothing really on the horizon for him. We spoke about his personal and professional growth, and I think that's where all his energy is. He almost has blinders on when it comes to romance right now. He's very much in a season of self-growth.

What will we see between Buck and his sister Maddie in the rest of this season?

It's always been one of my favorite relationships to get to explore. We have such a great sibling relationship. When we met back in Season 2 when she joined the show, within minutes we were making fun of each other in a well-natured, fun sibling kind of rivalry way. It's never really gone away. I think there's a true deep trust there which is always fun as an actor. We lean on each other outside of work as well. There have been times over the show where — because of Maddie's relationship with Chimney — we've gone some periods without having too many Buck and Maddie scenes. But moving into the back half of the season, we really have a lot to get to do together, so it's been a really fun time for me.

How will Maddie support Buck in his decision to become a sperm donor?

I think she's always going to have his back. His parents are going to make a reappearance. Buck and Maddie have always had to kind of stand side by side and be a team when it comes to dealing with their parents, so she's absolutely going to have to step into that older sister role again and be a pillar of support for Buck in those times.

From what we know of Buck's parents, I don't see them being supportive of his decision to be a sperm donor.

You'll have to wait and see.

I will confess that I always forget that you are British! Now that you've played an American for six seasons, do you find yourself ever speaking in the Buck accent when you are not on set?

There are Americanisms that are finding their way into my vocabulary and into certain pronunciations. I'm trying to stave it off as best I can because I enjoy my Britishness. There's definitely a mix up happening over the years. I've been living out here for seven years now. Slowly but surely there are definitely certain pronunciations that are sliding over. 

9-1-1 Season 6 airs at 8 p.m. Mondays on Fox.

Get to know Oliver Stark:
Stark is best known for playing Evan "Buck" Buckley on the Fox series 9-1-1 (Metascore: 60). Before that series premiered in 2018, he played Ryder on the first two seasons of AMC's Into the Badlands (54) and Gregor in 2016's Underworld: Blood Wars (23).