Liv Tyler Won’t Return To Fox’s ‘9-1-1: Lone Star’ Due To Uncertainties Of Transatlantic Commute Amid Pandemic

Jack Zeman/FOX

EXCLUSIVE: When 9-1-1: Lone Star returns for its second season on Fox, it will be without its original female lead. Liv Tyler is exiting the breakout show, on which she starred opposite Rob Lowe, due to circumstances related to family and travel during the pandemic.

As was the case with Connie Britton, who left the mothership 9-1-1 series after the first season, Tyler’s character Michelle Blake, the paramedic Emergency Medical Services captain, will not be recast, with a possibility for her to return. The void of Tyler’s departure will be filled next season by the addition of Gina Torres as Paramedic Captain Tommy Vega.

“What a thrill it was having a movie star of Liv Tyler’s stature to help us launch the first season of 9-1-1: Lone Star,” Tim Minear, series’ co-creator, executive producer and showrunner, said in a statement to Deadline. “We loved working with Liv and will be forever indebted to her for her haunting, powerful portrayal of Michelle Blake. While we were able to tell a complete chapter in Michelle’s story, as with Connie Britton on our mothership, we also feel like there are more stories to be told. The door here will always be open for a return.” 

While it had not been planned as an exit for her character, Michelle’s story arc came to a natural conclusion in the Season 1 finale when she was reunited with her missing sister after searching for her throughout the season. Unlike Britton, who had signed a one-year deal for 9-1-1, Tyler had a standard multi-year contract but approached the producers over the summer about leaving.

I hear the coronavirus pandemic and the uncertainty surrounding travel amid a potential new wave of infections in the fall made continuing on the show a difficult proposition for Tyler. She lives in London with her partner and children, including a 5-year-old and a 4-year-old. The Lord of the Rings actress had been commuting between London and Los Angeles, where 9-1-1: Lone Star films. I hear that, with some intricate scheduling and her kids joining her in Los Angeles for shoots during vacations, she successfully went back and forth last season without being away from her children for long.

The pandemic, which has claimed 200,000 lives in the U.S. alone, disrupted film and TV production. Filming shut down in March and is now slowly resuming. 9-1-1: Lone Star was supposed to start production in the summer while kids are still out of school. Instead, the show is tentatively slated to begin filming Season 2 on October 12. Commuting on long-haul flights during a pandemic is inherently risky. Add to that the implications of a looming second COVID wave, which led to new restrictions in the UK announced today. Another travel ban or more mandatory quarantines could leave commuters stranded for weeks, which would’ve impacted Tyler and her family as well as 9-1-1: Lone Star‘s production.

9-1-1: Lone Star, which tied with Fox’s Lego Masters as last season’s No. 1 new series among Adults 18-49 and was the second most-watched new series, follows a sophisticated New York firefighter (Lowe) who, along with his son, relocates to Austin and must try to balance saving those who are at their most vulnerable while solving the problems in his own life.

Jim Parrack, Ronen Rubenstein, Sierra McClain, Natacha Karam, Brian Michael Smith, Julian Works and Rafael Silva co-star.

9-1-1: Lone Star is produced by 20th Television in association with Ryan Murphy Television and Brad Falchuk Teley-Vision. Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Tim Minear are creators, executive producers and writers on the series. Lowe co-executive produces.

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