‘9-1-1: Lone Star’ Actor Ronen Rubinstein Explains How His Character’s Battle with Drugs Resonated with Him

by Suzanne Halliburton

Ronen Rubinstein plays a paramedic on 9-1-1: Lone Star. But his character’s private life may be the more fascinating than his rescue work.

Rubinstein, as T.K. Strand, is an opioid addict on the show. His addiction issues were front and center from the pilot. As 9-1-1: Lone Star opened, Rob Lowe’s Owen Strand raced to rescue his son, T.K. The younger Strand was heartbroken because his boyfriend was in love with someone else. T.K. was going to propose. Instead, he swallowed some pills to cope.

T.K.’s addiction was one of the reasons that he and his dad moved to Austin, where 9-1-1: Lone Star is set. They both needed a fresh start.

Count Rubinstein as a proponent of his storyline. He thinks it can save lives, if not giving recognition to the opioid epidemic in the United States. Plus, he said the story line was like a chapter from his own life. He talked about his character and 9-1-1: Lone Star with DigitalSpy earlier this month.

“Well, personally, I hope we could explore this more, and I think we will – his drug use, specifically with opioids,” Rubinstein said. “Where I come from – in Staten Island, in New York – I think it’s one of the worse opioid crises in the country, if not in the world. And it’s really sad. The fact that it’s only gotten worse since I was a teenager, is really depressing.

“So, you know, I have a really close connection to that, and I have a very sort of brutal history with that as well,” said the star from 9-1-1: Lone Star. “The fact that I get this incredible character, the biggest moment of my career, and we share that – it was very surreal. It was definitely just a little mind-blowing as to how sometimes life can imitate art. It forced me to face, I guess, some demons that maybe I didn’t face before, especially through my work.”

Before 9-1-1: Lone Star, Rubinstein Got Big Break on Netflix Comedy

Rubinstein is 27. He was born in Israel to Russian parents. But his family moved to the New York area when he was five. His first big TV part was as a guest star on the binge-worthy Netflix comedy/drama Orange is the New Black. Back in 2015, Rubinstein played the love interest of Pennsatucky, an inmate in the women’s prison. Rubinstein also was part of the cast of Dead of Summer, a series on Freeform.

But Fox’s 9-1-1: Lone Star is his first big network role. That also led to a role on this year’s American Horror Story. Ryan Murphy created both series.

Fox picked up 9-1-1: Lone Star for a third season. It’s the spinoff of 9-1-1. Both shows focus on the lives of first responders. There are amazing and bizarre rescues in each episode. But both series also follow the personal lives of all the characters.

The third season of 9-1-1: Lone Star starts early next year. Fox hasn’t announced a specific date, but stay tuned with Outsider for more show details.