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Welcome to Ronen Rubinstein Network - the most up to date source for everything actor, singer and activist, Ronen Rubinstein! You may know him as T.K. Strand from "9-1-1: Lone Star" or his other roles in various movies and TV shows. Here you will find the latest news, photos and media, Make sure to check back often for more updates.

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Pop Culturalist Chats with Ronen Rubinstein About S2 of 9-1-1: Lone Star & Tarlos

Originally Posted: February 8, 2021   |   By: Kevin Jan   |   Pop Culturalist

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To say that Ronen Rubinstein had a breakout 2020 would be an understatement. Whether he was starring as a Russian socialite in No Escape or playing a college athlete struggling with his mental health in Smiley Face Killers, Ronen has quickly made a name for himself for the diverse characters he’s brought to life on the screen.

But he’s probably best known for his scorching performance as fireman T.K. Strand in 9-1-1: Lone Star. Now in its second season, Pop Culturalist caught up with Ronen to chat about 9-1-1: Lone Star, what’s ahead for T.K., and his favorite relationship to explore in the series.

PC: The first season of 9-1-1: Lone Star was incredibly well received, and Season 2 has just started airing. Has this project taken new meaning after everything that’s happened over the past year?
Ronen: Yeah. First and foremost, the fact that we can even work is unbelievable. I believe we were the first scripted drama to get announced for a pickup during the pandemic. Then, we were one of the very first shows to go back into production. It showed us that people really love the show and that the studio has a lot of faith in us.

We were even able to go back to work. The biggest thing is they made it work—everyone, knock on wood, has been safe. Season 2 is off to a super hot start. We’re the number two show on television right now. We’re only behind our mothership, which is pretty cool. It’s very much a 9-1-1 domination happening right now. It’s a crazy place to be. But yeah, this season, it’s only gotten bigger. They didn’t let the pandemic hold them back; they stayed very true to the show. The emergencies are bigger, the drama is bigger, and we can finally dive deeper into our characters, because we have so many of them.

PC: You have a really interesting process when it comes to playing T.K. and learning about the different characters and their arcs as you’re watching the show as it airs. Has that always been your process? How did that develop?
Ronen: The process is always sort of similar. It depends on what the tone of the show is. But with T.K., he’s a very layered character, and he wears his heart on his sleeve. His priorities are clear: it’s family. Family over everything. But then again, when we first meet T.K., he’s dealing with heartbreak. I mean, he almost literally commits suicide, so there was a lot to play with there. But the overall development of him as a character, it always comes down to basics. What does he want? What are his priorities? What does he care about? What keeps him motivated? All of that was very clear. The writers were very generous in providing me with information about him.

PC: 9-1-1 was recently nominated for a GLAAD Award for outstanding drama. What has it meant to you to be a part of a project that’s pushing these inclusive storylines?
Ronen: It might be the greatest thing about this show and universe, because we could have made another big action show. That’s not that hard to do. It’s much more challenging and riskier to portray the characters that we do portray, not really knowing how the audience or society might react to it. That’s why our leader is Ryan Murphy, because he doesn’t really care about that. He finds it way more important to portray people the way they are and portray people that are actually out there. A lot of them are watching the show. He feels that it’s way more important to be inclusive and diverse, because that’s the world we live in, and that’s very much our audience.

Luckily, audiences and critics have reacted very generously to the show. We do it in an honest and authentic way. That’s also one of the most important things about it. Now, to be nominated for a GLAAD Award—I haven’t wrapped my head around it. It’s such a prestigious thing to be a part of. Ryan Murphy set a record, having six shows nominated. It’s unbelievable. It really is. It’s unbelievable and adds one more level to why what we’re doing is so important.

PC: There are so many incredible relationships on this show. Which of T.K.’s relationships has been your favorite to explore, and has that changed from Season 1 into Season 2?
Ronen: I’m going to be biased and say Tarlos. The journey that T.K. and Carlos are on is so beautiful, and it feels so real. It feels like all the stages of a new relationship.

Season 1 was very much the honeymoon phase, and you’re a little uncertain. You don’t know if this is the real thing or not. Then in Season 2, we’re very much a couple. We’re very domesticated. Now, we’re going into dangerous territory of me meeting his parents, and you’ll see a whole [new] dynamic. They literally just released the promo for Episode 4 and that tells you a lot about what happens when T.K. meets his parents. It doesn’t go very smoothly.

It’s my favorite relationship to explore, and working with Rafael [Silva] is such a blessing. He’s such a generous, beautifully open actor. That’s why people have grasped onto that relationship, because you can really see the chemistry on screen. You can see our comfort level on screen. There is a lot of trust when it comes to that relationship. It only works if there’s trust and comfort between the actors. Luckily, we have that.

PC: T.K. has had an incredible arc throughout the series. What’s ahead for him? What can you tease?
Ronen: We are about to enter a major new chapter in T.K.’s life, and it’s going to affect the people around him. It’s definitely going to affect his relationship with his dad. I’m not going to say if it’s positive or negative, but it’s a major chapter in his life. We should see it in Episode 6. I don’t know if I’m allowed to say that, but whatever.

PC: That’s a great teaser. You’ve had an incredible 2020 with fantastic performances in 9-1-1: Lone Star, Smiley Face Killers, and No Escape. What is your process like when you’re deciding what projects you want to be a part of? Is there a moment that it clicks in your head that you’ve got a winner on your hands?
Ronen: You know, I’m not going to toot my own horn and be like, “I said yes to this script. I said no to this script.” I’m in a place in my career where I’ve been lucky enough to audition for projects that are great. They’ve been generous enough to allow me to play them. I’ve been lucky. The thing that I’m most proud of in my career is the variety of characters. That’s something that I’ve always strived for. The people that I look up to rarely play the same character twice.

I’ve been very fortunate in the way roles have landed in my career. It’s so crazy that all three of those characters came out last year in a time that was filled with so much negativity. It was a miserable year. I’m just beyond grateful that my work was able to be seen by people. Fortunately enough, I know a lot of people use my work as a form of escape and are able to enjoy themselves for at least an hour or hour-and-a-half—that’s the greatest thing you could ask for as an actor. I’ve had people from all over the planet reach out and be like, “Your movie or your show has literally kept me going and has provided some sort of happiness in this miserable time that we’re in.” That’s the greatest review/compliment I could ever ask for. I’ve been very lucky.

PC: Speaking of versatility, what’s left on your bucket list?
Ronen: So much. I feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface. I’ve always had big aspirations; I’m somewhat of a big dreamer. The next step, in the near feature, is producing. The ultimate goal is to direct. I have a story in the back of my head that I hope to adapt into a film that I get to direct. Then, just continuing to do work that I think is important and resonates with people. Whether it’s in television or film, that doesn’t really matter to me, as long as the product is good, and as long as the material is good. Obviously, top of my bucket list is to work with some of my heroes, whether it’s directors or actors. I’m going to keep pushing to get there.

PC: In addition to the incredible work that you’re doing on screen, you’re also an ambassador for The Ocean Cleanup and Project Zero. How did you get involved with those organizations?
Ronen: You know, a big part of that, I have to give ultimate props to my publicists at Imprint. When I first met them, it was right before Lone Star premiered. I was very clear with my mission and my goals as an actor. I said, “I want to coincide my career with trying to save the planet.” That means working with amazing companies, working with amazing organizations that are doing something for the planet, for animals, and humans, and they were completely on board. They made sure that started happening as soon as we started working together.

So, a lot of the organizations that I’m working with now, it’s because they introduced me to them, and they reached out and were like, “Listen, we have this super passionate actor who cares about the planet and wants to make this his thing.” They made it happen. These organizations are unbelievable. What they’re doing is actually going to change the world. I’m in complete awe in the opportunities that they’ve been able to get for me.