For the last three years, Ronen Rubinstein has been playing TK Strand on 9-1-1: Lone Star. Each year, we’ve gotten to know him — and love him — more. And never has that been more true than now.
In the recently-aired season three finale, TK had possibly his biggest moment on the show, proposing to his boyfriend Carlos (Rafael L. Silva) and delivering a moving and beautiful speech about love and loss while doing so.
We sat down with Rubinstein to talk to him about the proposal, and what the future of TK, Tarlos, and 9-1-1: Lone Star could entail.
“I think, all roads sort of led to here, but I just really appreciate the roller coaster ride that it took for us to get here,” Rubinstein says. “And I feel like we truly earned the engagement, it didn't come easily and it felt very real and very relatable to relationships in the real world and I feel like Tim [Minnear, the show’s creator] really gave us a true emotional rollercoaster to get to this place. And I think it's a beautiful way to end the third season.”
The scene definitely made viewers all around the world cry, but Rubinstein reveals that it also made the actors cry, even when they were just rehearsing the scene.
“It was so emotional,” he says. “I mean, we were crying literally during the rehearsal and that rarely happens and our director had to cut the rehearsal short and he's like, all right, let's save this for the real thing.”
“Our crew has been with us for three seasons and everybody has watched this journey. So it was really beautiful and emotional and it was a heavy day,” he continues. “I think people were really in the zone with us and it was a very special day and very emotional. And then once we finished that scene, everybody applauded, and it was just a big release that we got that out of the way because it's a heavy scene, and that monologue was, it's a beautiful monologue. I'm so grateful for it.”
TK and Carlos, also known as “Tarlos” by the couple’s legions of diehard fans, started out as a flirtation, but throughout Lone Star's first three seasons, they’ve built it into a love story for the ages.
“[Playing TK] been one of the greatest journeys of my life and hands down the greatest journey of my career,” Rubinstein says. “It's something I always wished for, to work on a character that I truly love and respect and get excited about over a long period of time and, here we are now 42 episodes later.”
“I remember the very first day that I started developing TK and the very first day of work,” he adds. “And just to see the path that he's taken up until now, it's really sort of hard to fathom, because TKs been through so much physically and mentally, especially mentally and I mean not for nothing, physically too.”
Rubinstein understands how much the couple means to the fans, and he says he sees himself as the fandom’s “big brother,” and he can barely describe how impactful his interactions with them have been on his life. He knows the show can be a bright spot in people’s otherwise dark lives, and that means the world to him.
“Specifically hearing what Tarlos has done for them, especially seeing that sort of representation on screen. Especially in countries where it may still be illegal to have same-sex marriages or it's still totally not acceptable to be gay,” he says. “I feel like for those parts of the world, it's really important to have these sort of relationships on screen and it's been surreal and rewarding and it's been a beautiful journey. I just can't wait to see the fan base grow and continue to love what we do.”
He even says that people have told him that the show and character have changed and saved their lives.
“That's been the biggest thing of, that's something I can never imagine,” he says. “A lot of the messages that I get are quite literally like this show saved my life. TK has saved my life. Tarlos has saved my life. So, I hope we can continue helping people and bringing people out of the darkness.”
Thankfully, the show has been renewed for a fourth season, so it can keep being that light. We'll also get to see plenty of great engagement scenes of TK and Carlos together. And eventually, we’ll get to see a Lone Star wedding!
“I would expect that it's going to be a really dope wedding, and a really cool honeymoon,” he says. “But knowing Lone Star, I'm sure something crazy's going to happen. Maybe they're in a disaster during the wedding or something crazy like that.”
Rubinstein even has picked a frontrunner for who TK’s best man will be.
“I think for TK it would probably be Mateo because he sort of became like his weird stepbrother,” he says. “He kind of has replaced TK at the Strand household. He literally sleeps in his old bedroom.”
We’ll find out who the best man is, and what other disasters TK can survive next season on 9-1-1: Lone Star.