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9-1-1’s Kenneth Choi and Jennifer Love Hewitt on Becoming ‘Best Friends’ Through ‘Madney’ Romance (Exclusive)

9-1-1 stars Kenneth Choi and Jennifer Love Hewitt credit their wonderful off-screen bond for why their characters, Chimney and Maddie, have become such a beloved romance on the show.

Warning: Spoilers for the Thursday, May 2, episode of 9-1-1

“It’s just so incredible to play all of these different colors with the actual Jennifer Love Hewitt,” Choi, 52, exclusively told Us Weekly while discussing season 7 of the ABC series. “She’s so special and dear to me personally. We’ve become the best of friends. I love her. I love her entire family. And I think that personal relationship bleeds on screen.”

Hewitt, 45, for her part, echoed Choi’s sentiments by calling the actor the “best person” and “sunshine” personified. She added that Choi is not only good to her, but to her real-life husband, Brian Hallisay, and their three children: Autumn, Atticus and Aidan.

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“He’s a great uncle Kenny to my kids. He’s a great friend to my husband in real life. He just feels like our family and he and I have always felt like family together,” she told Us. “And the [9-1-1] crew just is always like, ‘Oh God, those two again, because all we do is laugh and act like we’re 4, but we have the best time.”

That lighthearted playfulness, for Hewitt, is exactly what life is about. “You should be able to go to work and still feel joy and have the long days move through easily with a great partner by your side,” she said. “And that’s what he is for me.”

Chimney and Maddie met when Hewitt joined the firefighter drama in season 2. While Maddie’s brother, Buck (Oliver Stark) assumed she’d be interested in his BFF Eddie Diaz (Ryan Guzman), Maddie was instead instantly drawn to Chimney — a plan Hewitt said she mapped out from the very beginning.

9 1 1 s Kenneth Choi Talks Bringing Maddie and Chimney to Life With Best Friend Jennifer Love Hewitt 441
Disney/Chris Willard

“I really did say to [our showrunner] Tim [Minear] the first day, he was like, ‘What do you want to do on the show?’ And I said, ‘I want Maddie and Chimney to end up together,’” Hewitt recalled. “And everybody was like, ‘What are you talking about?’ We had not even had a scene together yet, so who knows if we would’ve had chemistry or not, but I was like, that’s her person. Something about it. I was like, that’s the person she needs to fix all of this stuff that’s happened to her and he felt the same.”

It didn’t take long for sparks to fly between the two characters, but to say there have been endless hurdles since then would be an understatement. Maddie’s abusive ex-husband, Doug (played by Hewitt’s real-life husband), didn’t take long to show up in season 2 only to kidnap Maddie and stab Chimney. The pair also faced an internal struggle after the birth of their daughter, Jee-Yun, when Maddie found herself struggling with postpartum depression.

It’s the duo’s ability to stick by each other through the ups and downs, however, that makes what Choi calls the “greatest” romance on TV right now.

“We know that we’re always there for each other no matter how far out [or] dark it may seem. We know that we’re there for each other and we got each other’s backs,” Choi told Us, calling the couple a “metaphor” for real-life relationships. “Everybody has strife, everybody has conflict, and you always have to somehow come back together to make it work.”

Disney/Chris Willard

After five seasons of ups and downs, the pair finally said “I do” during the Thursday, May 2, episode, but it wouldn’t be typical 9-1-1 fashion if their planned big, fancy wedding wasn’t traded for an intimate hospital bed ceremony. The nuptials were certainly unconventional, but for Choi and Hewitt, they felt perfectly in line for their characters’ journey.

“I loved it,” Hewitt said of the unexpected wedding venue swap. “I think Maddie even says at the end, ‘That’s what we do. We end up at a hospital together and all the good stuff happens.’ So it felt perfect. It really did.”

Choi and Hewitt are profoundly aware of how deeply connected fans feel to the Maddie and Chimney dynamic, mostly because they feel that way, too. Choi told Us that for Chimmney, it was “love at first sight.”

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“I have some friends who are happily married and when you ask, how’d you meet your wife? They say, ‘When I saw her, I knew in my head I was going to marry her,’” he explained. “And I think that actually happens a lot, and I think that’s the case for Maddie and Chimney. I think the first time he saw her, and she saw him, there was that instantaneous kind of, that’s the one for me. That’s the one I’ve been wading through all these people.”

Hewitt, meanwhile, celebrates that Maddie and Chimney are an “older” couple on the show — and are two people who “took a minute” before they found each other in life.

“I love that all of their broken pieces separately, somehow feel fixed when they’re together,” she said. “And I think that Maddie needed somebody like Chimney to shine light on the darkness she had been in. And I think that Chimney needed somebody to see him for how special he is, and Maddie does that for him.” I just think it’s such a beautiful thing.”

New episodes of 9-1-1 air on ABC Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET.

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