'9-1-1: Lone Star': Jim Parrack on Judd's Fatherly New Twist (Exclusive)

The actor talks to ET about Monday's episode.

Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you have not watched Monday's episode of 9-1-1: Lone Star.

Just when it seemed Judd was settling into life as a new father, 9-1-1: Lone Star threw another curveball.

After Grace bravely gave birth to their newborn daughter, Monday's episode, titled "Child Care," presented the new parents with an unexpected surprise. As the episode revealed, many years ago, Judd's one-night stand with a woman he barely knew resulted in him fathering a teenage boy, Wyatt (guest star Jackson Pace), who suddenly came looking for him. The surprise complicated matters for Judd and Grace, who were seemingly on the path to beginning a new chapter in their lives caring for their daughter, Charlie. But the couple proved, fortunately, that this unforeseen bombshell wouldn't deter their marriage.

Following the episode, 9-1-1: Lone Star actor Jim Parrack, who plays Judd, broke down the crucial turning point in the firefighter's life, how he moves forward now that he is the father to two children and what's next.

ET: When you got the script for this episode, what were your thoughts? 

Jim Parrack:
My first thoughts were, "Man, that's good writing," mostly because of the timing. Everybody just saw us welcome our daughter into the world and now it's almost immediately time to throw a wrench into all that and come up with some new problems to figure out.

Having this teenage son come into Judd's orbit, how does this complicate things? We saw it a little bit in this episode, that it's not going to be a very easy ride as Judd and Grace figure out what this new reality means.

Yeah. Judd's first thoughts are of Grace and Charlie. And then, Grace very graciously takes the lead and says, "Look, here's what we're going to do. We're going to open up the lines of communication with these people and we're going to welcome them, too. We're going to see what the deal is. And if this is all above board, you're going to be a part of this guy's life." And it's exactly what one would hope for, if they found themselves in a spot like that, that you could honor and protect your own family. But also hopefully do right by somebody, especially if they were your child, and meet the fact that it's been 17 years with a fresh face and say, "Well, let me take charge of things, moving forward, and let me help be responsible for shaping this kid." Hopefully you can do that while everybody's copacetic with each other.

There were so many incredibly strong moments for Grace and so many beautiful scenes between you and Sierra McClain. Can you talk a little bit about working through those moments in this episode with Sierra?

Initially when she's like, "We'll talk about it later," in the firehouse, it's just a pretty good job of restraining whatever her reaction is. And again, it's pretty thoughtful of her. Then later, when I find out that she's invited not only the kid but the kid's mother, who I haven't seen since this one-off night a long time ago, I thought she just did a really, really good job of reminding Judd what they're about as a family. What they're not about is dodging this responsibility and leaving people out in the cold and leaving kids who are trying to make some kind of contact [with their parent]. This kid's trying to make some kind of contact with his father, get some answers about life. And we're not the kind of couple or the kind of people that just say, "Well, that's inconvenient, so we're going to look the other way." I've said this before, but I honestly think Sierra McClain's the best actor on television. I know that people are drawn to different kinds of acting for different reasons, but when it comes to honest human experience, she's absolutely at the top. She's fantastic and, as always, she did her magic in this one too.

How is Judd going to fare toggling between these two -- not lives, necessarily, but perhaps situations unexpectedly coming together in this moment?

Once we get to the point where I see that Grace supports me having a relationship there, that's going to be cooperative and everything, from that point it's like, just learn to balance and be careful and thoughtful. And consider everybody's sensitivities to the whole situation, I guess, and move forward as carefully as you can. But also, my inclination was that once I got to know this kid, I really wanted a relationship with him, wanted to get to know him. A lot of it's just a natural inclination to want to get to know family. I think that's it, just treading very cautiously.


Now that Wyatt is in his life, what is this going to bring out in Judd that maybe we haven't seen before? 

In terms of what I do, one of the things Judd does is seeks the counsel of Owen. He says, "Hey man, look, there's some things I know, and I can share them with you. There's things you know, you share them with me. This is a situation where I'm totally at a loss. I've not raised a young man, and you have. You have, successfully. Even though he had a boatload of problems, you've raised a guy who's able to survive his own problems." So bending the knee and being humble and saying, "I need some help here. I got no idea how to be the father to a teenage son." That kind of pings us off on our next little adventure.

Judd is also revisiting his past with the mother also coming back into the picture a little bit. What can we look for there, in terms of how Judd kind of goes about approaching that relationship? Or non-relationship, I suppose.

It would all have to kind of come through Grace, just for the sake of everybody involved. The good news is that her character seems to be on the same page. Like, "Look, I'm not trying to kick anybody's hornets' nest or anything here, either." The good thing is there's triangulation of respect and open lines of communication. In terms of where it goes from there, I'm still wondering too. We haven't really had any new developments with that part of it.

What are you excited about in these coming weeks?

I'm excited about episode 6, and I can't really say why without giving some stuff away. But basically the 126, after being broken up, comes together as a team. And then we come together as a literal team in a competitive environment against some other people. That, for me, was a really, really fun episode. [The next episode] will be fun.

At the start of the season, it felt different not seeing everyone interacting and working together in the same place. That must have been nice for you guys to eventually reunite.

It was great. I think it let the audience feel like... I think one of the ways you can obviously experience something special is to have it removed from you for a time, right? That's kind of what it did. To get to see these characters that people have come to love, but there was a missing presence or there was a missing factor there. It's that thing that happens when we're all operating as a family, that it's almost its own character, right? I thought [the writers] did a really, really good job of having us disperse and scatter and then find our way back to each other. When we come back together, at least so far, it's been really, really strong. We've been a really, really strong, healthy family, which sounds silly, but maybe that's the kind of thing that happens. You go through some s**t and then you come back together and say, "Oh, look at this." It was terrifying for a little while, but it ended up playing out the way it ought to in the long run. There's a lot of appreciation for it now.

You've now been in Judd's shoes for a couple seasons now. Just looking overall in these three years playing him, his evolution from Day 1 to now, how are you feeling about his development? What has surprised you about his journey over the course of these three seasons? What has excited you?

It's a good question. The most obvious part is when the series started, I was squarely in the midst of coping with a tragedy. On the one hand, it was a really, really good thing to act. On the other hand, it was tough to get a full picture of exactly what the role would be, because it's hard to tell exactly who anybody is when the only part of them that's available to themselves is the part that copes with trauma and tragedy and loss. I knew where I wanted the part to go was demonstrating that he can be wild and authentically Texan, and still be open-minded and compassionate, loving. The writers [have] given us so many situations to show whatever beef I had with Owen or the idea of a new [fire]house, whatever walls were up against the ideas of all that stuff in the beginning, they're all down.

One of the things I really, really like about the part is they've allowed him to become humble enough that I can really learn from other characters. And confident enough, over time, that I can really be of use and say to just about anybody on the show, "Hey, you got a minute? You seem to be having trouble. I was thinking this might help," and just set it on the table and walk away. That's cool because it means every time help's coming through or going out, there's an opportunity to be dynamic and to be changing. That's been nice. I'm glad it didn't get stuck in years and years of playing the same kind of hot-headed guy.

9-1-1: Lone Star airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.

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