(Warning: This post contains spoilers for Monday’s “9-1-1,” titled “Fight or Flight”)
Jennifer Love Hewitt got back into the scary movie game for Monday’s “9-1-1,” which saw Maddie come face to face with her abusive, estranged husband, Doug — who happens to be played by Hewitt’s real-life husband, Brian Hallisay.
The episode, titled “Fight or Flight,” followed the aftermath of Doug kidnapping Maddie from her apartment and stabbing Chimney (Kenneth Choi) and leaving him for dead. (But don’t worry, we know he’s OK now!)
Jumping between flashbacks of Doug and Maddie’s very unhappy marriage and Doug and Maddie’s very unhappy kidnapping/road trip outside of Los Angeles in the present day, the hour culminated in a bloody snow battle between the couple up in the mountains of Big Bear, Calif. Maddie is the one who emerges victorious, finally freeing herself from Doug by killing him in self-defense. With a fire poker.
No, the “horror movie” feel of it all was not lost on the former scream queen.
“There were definitely some moments where it was like, ‘Wow, I have not handled this part of myself since I was like 18 in ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’ (laughs),” Hewitt told TheWrap in an interview ahead of the episode. “It was really fun and I definitely made at least two jokes about me carrying that poker, while running through the snow with that poker, about how it was like my fisherman’s hook.”
OK, so you got that part, right? Hewitt played Julie James in “I Know What You Did Last Sumer,” the 1997 horror flick about a group of teens who are hunted down by what appears to be the fisherman they killed last summer. His weapon of choice: a hook, of course.
But all jokes aside, this episode is about how “Maddie saved Maddie here,” which Hewitt tells TheWrap is important to her “because no one else could.”
“So often we shy away from something like this and not show the ins and outs of the entire story and not put it on camera — so I thought it was really brave of them to really show the effects of the relationship between Maddie and Doug not only in the present day, but in the past,” Hewitt said.
“The stuff that we shot in Big Bear was brutal, really hard,” she added. “There was a lot of physicality, there was a lot of emotion. We were freezing. I had a lot of small injuries every few minutes and it was really intense. I definitely felt like when we got back after that episode it took me a while to shake it obviously, not only emotionally, but physically.”
And yes, Hewitt says shooting the episode with her real-life husband did add something to her performance — but not in the way you might expect.
“It was really funny, the first thing we did was one of the flashback scenes and we told the director we thought it was going to be weird because we’re really married and she said, ‘No, I actually think it’s going to add something really lovely,'” Hewitt said. “And it did! In that we were able to trust each other so much in a way that you don’t have with an actor that you just meet that afternoon who comes in to play your abusive husband (laughs). So Brian and I were able to just trust each other and be as ugly and tortured and raw and emotionally heightened and aggressive, and all those things, as possible because there is so much love there off camera.”
As for where things go from here with Maddie and her on-screen lover, Chimney, they had a very tender moment at the end of the episode — but that doesn’t mean they’ve reached happily ever after.
“The episode ends exactly the way it should: with two people who are completely exhausted, very injured and very hopeful the worst is behind them,” she said. “But because it’s ‘9-1-1,’ and because it’s life, what happens next to Maddie is something that was very important to me and very important to [showrunner Tim Minear], in terms of storytelling, which is that it won’t be easy. It will be complicated because since they have known each other — and before — they’ve been through so much. But I love them together. Only a few episodes in I said, ‘I just want Chimney and Maddie to be together.’ I think those two just deserve something good and I’ve been really pleasantly surprised to see how well it works.”
“9-1-1” airs Mondays at 9/8c on Fox.