– Set interview with Alex while filming Episode 6:05 of “The Shield” in June 2006 –
When The Shield returns next season, there will be a new face amongst the Strike Team, as Alex O’Loughlin joins the cast as Kevin Hiatt. Australian actor O’Loughlin appeared in the Marvel Comics adaptation Man-Thing and has a role in Blade: Trinity director David S. Goyer’s upcoming film The Invisible, but The Shield will mark his most high profile role yet.
Recently I paid a visit to the set of The Shield and had a chance to talk with O’Loughlin about his exciting new role. Before our talk, I saw the actor standing in “Video Village,” where the crew members viewed a scene being filmed, while O’Loughlin took turns switching off with Chiklis (who was also directing the episode) playing a bass guitar a crew member had loaned them.
With production underway, it was understandably hard for O’Loughlin to set aside much time to talk, and the very friendly actor at one point had to be called away to film midway through our conversation, only to then very graciously take some time out of his lunch break in order to finish our chat. Though he was careful to not give away too much of the show’s upcoming storylines, O’Loughlin discussed his character and what it’s like to join such a dynamic show.
IGN TV: How many weeks have you been working on the show now?
Alex: About three.
IGN TV: How’s it going so far?
Alex: It’s going good. It’s a really scary transition. I’ve never worked on something like this. It’s tough! It’s like there’s film acting, there’s TV acting and then there’s The Shield. That’s kind of how I describe it.
IGN TV: Can you describe your character?
Alex: Kevin Hiatt is the new “head’s up” on the Strike Team. They’ve brought him in to lead the Strike Team and potentially take Vic Mackey’s place. They’ve been talking about Vic moving into retirement. They’ve also been talking about Vic behaving himself and not moving into retirement, and so it’s all kind of ambiguous at the moment.
And they haven’t released that much information as to how well behaved my character is either. But he’s certainly… He’s come from INS and he’s done four years on the border and he’s done some gang work as well. But he’s pretty street savvy and he’s pretty good with his weapon and good with his hands.
So we think there may be a little more to it than that.
IGN TV: What’s his relationship like with Vic? How do they get along?
Alex: They’re getting there! [laughs] They’re getting there. It’s pretty interesting putting Kevin and Vic together. I mean Kevin’s a lot younger than Vic and he’s the new bloke, but he’s also been brought in at the same level.
So it’s kind of like putting two panthers in the same cage and watching them just circle, you know? We’re still — even what we’re shooting now — where these two characters are working each other out. But they seem to be getting along okay.
IGN TV: What about the other guys in the Strike Team; Ronnie and Shane? Especially Shane, given what he did last season. How is he acting around the new guy?
Alex: Well Shane’s pretty defensive around the new guy, you know, with Lem… [pauses] I’m just remembering what I can and can’t say!
Shane’s pretty defensive around Kevin and so far Shane has not been open to a new guy on the Strike Team. And certainly not a new guy leading the Strike Team. And that’s where we’re at with Shane.
IGN TV: Who brings you in? Is it Kavanaugh?
Alex: Claudette brings Kevin in; to keep an eye on Vic and sort of relay information to what’s really going on in within the Strike Team at the moment. And also as a potential replacement.
IGN TV: So how’s it been working with the cast and crew?
Alex: It’s been awesome. Look, this ensemble has been together for five years, and they’re so tight and they know each other so well. And it’s always difficult moving into something like that as the new guy. But this has been kind of good for my character; I mean I felt a little bit like a fish out of water.
I mean it moves so fast, even though it shoots like a movie. It shoots like little movies; like lots of little feature films, but it moves really really really quickly and you get one-hundredth of the rehearsal time.
You’ve got to have your s**t going on and you’ve got to be ready. And I never feel like I’m ready most of the time! [laughs] But we’re getting along! We’re getting there.
I’ve been doing a lot of reading and spending a lot of time with the LAPD guys. I’ve been doing that and going out shooting lots of guns and sort of rolling with these cops and just talking to them and just doing as much research stuff as I can.
IGN TV: Were you very familiar with the show when you got the part?
Alex: Oh, totally! Absolutely. I love the show.
IGN TV: A lot of the subject matter and the cases on the show are pretty dark and horrific. Have you dealt with any of that stuff yet?
Alex: Yeah. We’re actually dealing with these particular Salvadoran murders at the moment that are pretty nasty.
[Editors Note: At this point as we were talking, Michael Chiklis happened to walk right by and glance over at us]
IGN TV: And with him in earshot, how is Michael Chiklis to work with as a director?
Alex: [Smiling at Chiklis] Michael Chiklis is a beautiful man! He’s very intense, and he’s kind of frightening from time to time. But when you get to know him, he’s like a teddy bear.
IGN TV: Is it interesting for you to go from working with him for a couple of weeks as an actor and now to see him also as a director?
Alex: Yeah, it’s great. I mean Michael’s character is so sort of the pinnacle of the show. The show pivots around his character I think. So it’s almost not so strange to see him as the director, you know what I mean? It is kind of like, “Wait, hang on… what are you doing sitting in that seat?”
But he’s a fantastic director. It seems to come really naturally to him and it’s great working with him. Working as an actor and also working with him as a director.
IGN TV: So have you gotten any hints yet from the writers as to whether your character is going to show his own dark side or stay on the straight and narrow.
Alex: Yeah… Even if they had told me, I couldn’t tell you, you know?
IGN TV: [Laughs] Well, rephrasing a bit; What do you think would be more fun to play for your character?
Alex: Look, you know, for me… I’m on this show for a reason. I said yes to this part for a reason. And it’s The Shield for a reason. And I think that the darker the secrets that any human has, the more interesting they become. I won’t say any better or worse; just interesting.
And we watch television and we make television and movies about what’s dramatically interesting. So I think that hopefully some interesting little things will come out here or there about this guy. I’m sure they will over time.
- Alex only joined the cast of The Shield for 7 episodes in a show that ran for 90 episodes, yet it seems like he was able to leave with good friendships with some of the main cast, that lasted far beyond his short time with them. For me that say something about Alex as a person and an actor. The people he works with generally seems to like him and even want to keep in contact with him after their working relationship ended.
- Alex joined his old colleagues at ‘The Bash’ in 2009, 3 years after he worked with them…..
“The Bash” was a benefit for the Los Angeles Children’s Hospital on 17 May 2009 in LA. The event was held at the legendary restaurant Crustacean Beverly Hills. Here is a report from it:
Some more thoughts:
Did the short stint for Alex on The Shield really mean anything for his career? Taking into account that the episodes he featured in, were filmed in 2006 and only aired a year later in 2007, I think it was best for his career, that his time on the show ended so quickly. Being part of that production might have taught him a lot for his future in USA Television, but staying with the show, might have been a road to nowhere for him……..
In the interview he talks about the lead actor ( Michael Chiklis) also directing the episode. I wonder if Alex would ever venture into that the directors chair of an episode of Hawaii Five-0……..? As far as I can remember he did mention some thoughts about that, in an old interview before Hawaii Five-0. Wonder if it is still something he might consider doing? 🙂