Alex O’Loughlin has previously starred in The Back-up Plan with Jennifer Lopez. He is now the co-star of Hawaii 5-0 with Scott Caan. He talks about the difficulties of fatherhood, bromances and the show that made him famous.
by The Interview People,
6 December 2012
Question: Hawaii Five-0 is a remake. Why has your show succeeded where other remakes have failed?
Alex: That’s a really good question, and Hawaii Five-0 is not just a remake, it’s a remake of a show that was wildly successful and ran for twelve years and had a fan base all around the world, so the bar was set pretty high in the beginning.
So we were all concerned a little bit in the beginning on whether we were going to get it right and whether people were going to like us and whether the old audience and fan base for the old show would transfer.
But I think the recipe of this show, when you look at it – I mean, you’ve got the most beautiful beaches in the world, you’ve got beautiful people virtually naked on those beaches, you’ve got guns, you’ve got fast cars, you’ve got the crime stories, and you’ve got some humor. That’s a TV show that I’d want to watch.
I think it’s in the recipe and the way it’s all come together. If anything was going to be a hit, I think this was going to be a hit. But if we mess this up I was going to give up and become, I don’t know, a garbage man or do something else.
Question: Scott Caan told me that you didn’t get along straight away because in his words, “your egos bumped a bit in the beginning.” And you’re referred to as a “bromance” now, so how did that come to be?
Alex: Well I think as an actor you meet different people all the time, you work with different people all the time, you do movies, you do shows and stuff, you move around.
The thing with Scott and I, we’re both alpha males. We’re actually born only like about three hours apart, same day, same month, same everything, but on different parts of the planet. We’re actually like mirror images of each other in some ways and completely opposite in the others, and I think part of that was also finding out our place in the show and working out, you know, we’re the two leads of the show, but on the journey that we’ve taken and the bromantic nature of the characters, there’s a bromance between McGarrett and Danno, and it sort of has transferred our bromance together as Scott and Al, it’s kind of transferred onto the show as well.
We’ve become good mates. We spend a lot of time together and it’s great. I’m very lucky to have someone like him to work with every day.
Question: I like your guys’ – your and Scott’s character’s – chemistry on the show and I kind of feel like your personal life involves a good friendship, so I would like to know: since the first time you met him, the first impression, what’s changed and what hasn’t changed? And also, what do you like about him and what do you envy about him?
Alex: I envy his surfing, he’s a very good surfer and I’m a terrible surfer. I also envy his shoe collection. He has a surprisingly impressive shoe collection for a heterosexual man and I wish it was mine. I wish some of those pairs of shoes were mine.
What’s changed? We’ve come up against each other, like when you’ve got two alpha guys that have perhaps different views on a scene or different views on the rhythm of something, you have to come to a compromise. We’re both pretty sure of ourselves, we’re both pretty outspoken, we’re both sure we’re right pretty much all the time, so that’s always going to lead to an interesting dynamic.
But essentially we get on really well. I think artistically our sensibilities are the same. Essentially what we want is to get to truth and that’s much more important than a network formula or a joke or something else. But that being said too, we both try to go and try to find the comedy as much as we can too, because it’s really important.
The best people I’ve ever met in my life are people that laugh every day and people that see the irony in life, so that’s a big part of our relationship in what we do every day, too.
Question: How do you think audiences relate to these kinds of shows: procedural shows, crime shows?
Alex: I don’t think it’s possible for any of us to relate to a procedural show, that’s why I don’t watch them. And that’s why… I’m probably not supposed to say that! But when I first got offered this role, I went and spoke to Peter Lenkov and I spoke to the guys at CBS and they assured me that they weren’t just going to do a straight procedural with this, they were going to do a character-based story and have serialized stories.
They’ve kind of remained true to that; they give us great character stuff. This season opens up with Christine Lahti and with all the great stuff that McGarrett goes through with his mom, who he thought was dead and all that stuff, so that’s what we relate to as an audience.
We don’t relate to, “Come on, yeah, let’s go, get the gun, all right,” it’s bullshit. Alright? I mean maybe some of you guys have second lives and you’re secret agents actually, pretending to be journalists, talking to not-very-interesting actors about TV shows, I don’t know. Whatever.
Did I answer your question? I have a new baby, so I haven’t slept in two weeks, which is why I’m drinking a lot of water and I sound like I’m drunk. I’m not drunk; I’m not that drunk.
Question: Scott rather confessed that he didn’t watch a single episode of the original and pretty iconic Hawaii Five-0. Did you, and if so, did you draw anything from your predecessor as McGarrett, the late Jack Lord?
Alex: Let me preface my answer by saying I grew up in Australia and we had television back then, very different to how it is now. I think we might have had two channels and Hawaii Five-0 was one of the very few things that were available to watch, period.
Question: But were you a fan?
Alex: Well, I was also five. So it was sort of like, “Holy shit, moving pictures! How do you get those people – look at the mountain in the box!” So I think part of it was about comprehension of technology, and part of it was about this strange – this great television show.
I think I watched part of one episode after I got the job, before I started and did the pilot, and I realized that it was a mistake and I stopped doing that, because we’re not remaking something that’s been made before, we’re kind of rebooting it.
My McGarrett is not the same as Jack Lord’s McGarrett. He’s a very different character. You don’t know anything about Jack Lord’s McGarrett, he’s a man without a past, he’s a mystery, he’s like a ghost figure. Steve McGarrett, that I play, in the teaser of the pilot you learn a huge amount about this guy, his dad gets killed, he’s a Navy SEAL, he’s capturing this guy, etc., so already we’re deeply invested and empathetic with him on a character level.
And so in that sense I don’t need to go to the old show, and that sort of answers the second part of your question, is well, no, I didn’t draw anything from Jack Lord.
I tip my cap to him whenever I can, whenever we can pay homage to him and James MacArthur and the old show we do, but it’s a very different time, and it’s a very different show, and they’re very different characters, and frankly, television’s a very different medium today. We have special effects, there’s a certain expectation for us to deliver television at a certain standard, and so that in and of itself makes it a very different show.
Question: You just mentioned not getting any sleep because of the baby. I’m wondering, how you organize this with your work schedule, with your professional life? And I’d also like to know if you look down the line, let’s say fifteen years, is this a conscious thing that you now carry with yourself on set because you know that your son one day will watch you playing this role?
Alex: Yeah, I also have a fifteen-year-old, so funny you plucked that number out of the cosmos. I have a fifteen-year-old and I have a two-week-old.
Yes, I’ve learned and am currently learning what happens when they get to fifteen and how they remember things from way back then and what’s sort of influenced them. So I think as a new parent on every level, not just as somebody in the public eye, but just as a parent and as a father, I think I’m going to do certain things differently and not make some mistakes that I’ve made my first time around with Saxon. And then with my new son Lion, I’m going to make a whole new set of mistakes and by the time I become a grandparent, I’ll know everything, like grandparents do, and so that’s the evolution of us as humans, right?
Question: Can you elaborate a little bit, for the parents among us?
Alex: I think that there’s no such thing as perfect parenting. You want to feel like you’re in a losing battle? Have a baby. Not only do you feel like you’re in a losing battle, but with children you’re covered in poop half the time. There’s no integrity or dignity when you’re a parent. There’s no sleep and there’s lots of poop and there’s lots of yelling and there’s lots of – you can’t revert to being a child. You know what I mean.
It’s the greatest thing and the worst thing that ever happens to us. I’m joking about the worst thing, of course. It’s the greatest thing. I think for me, being a father defines me not only as a man, but as a human being. It’s the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me.
People say, oh, we’re not going to have kids yet, we’re going to wait because we’re not ready, we want to earn this much money, we want to do this. I don’t know how to tell you this, but you’re never ready. I work 70 hours a week.
And that’s the second part of your question, how do I do it? I have very supportive partner, and I have like – you know, we communicate and we participate in every way to support each other. I can’t not sleep all night and then work 14 hours. It’s impossible, and so we help each other out, and we just do it.
But he’s the best, wait until you see his picture. He’s like a perfect little unit.
Question: You mentioned the beautiful beaches and beautiful people, almost naked. Is that what still excites you about Hawaii Five-0 or is it something else now after season three that you need to excite you to go every day to the show?
Alex: It’s not that that was exciting to me and who doesn’t like going to tropical places where people are nude? I mean, come on. It’s like, “Wow, I’m in a tropical place and everyone’s nude.” That’s what it is, right?
And people in the Midwest of America who are freezing, I wouldn’t want to look at that. I wouldn’t want to watch a show set in Antarctica if I was freezing, I’d want to watch beaches and naked people!
But what’s exciting for me in the show is the character and the journey and what I get to do with him, and we blow stuff up, too, I really like doing that. I like blowing things up and shooting guns, because I’m a boy, and boys like – when you have a boy and you buy them G.I. Joes? And that’s what G.I. Joe does. I digress.
Question: If you could play any part in any movie or show, what would it be?
Alex: Oh man, I wish I knew. I think I’ll probably know when that script’s put in front of me, I think that everybody has their Braveheart. I don’t know. But I think it’s probably something like that. There’s probably some real William Wallace-like character that was a man of the people.
I don’t know. I look forward to meeting that character and I look forward to reading that script that I was meant to play. I think I’m such a young actor, I’ve got so much to learn, and the more I do it, the longer I do it, the more I realize that I’m so lucky to make a living from this job because it’s such a cool job.
You know what’s funny, I was just talking to one of the other affiliates about this, that working in television gives you the opportunity to do two things: either you can relax into your job and phone it in and become a really bad actor, which some people do, or you can forfeit a bit of sleep and work really hard and participate and be wide awake every minute of every day and become a much better actor than you were in the beginning. I hope the latter is what’s going to happen to me, but I think my great role is later.
Question: You said that you don’t have a specific role that you dream about. And I thought that in the beginning, it was only rumors, but actually you were indeed a serious candidate to play James Bond. Actually before Daniel Craig, it’s really amazing. What’s your take on that, because it seems that you were too young and I just even read something from Janet Jenkins who said “he may make a fabulous Bond in a few years but when we saw him, he just didn’t seem old enough.”
Alex: Janet Jenkins? I love her. She’s my friend, no I do. I adore her. There are some great people here that I miss. I don’t know, man. I don’t know how serious they were.
They were serious enough to fly me to London and put me up for a week and have suits and tuxedos made and train me with the gun and doing eleven-hour screen tests. They were that serious, but I didn’t get the job. (laughs) It’s funny, as an actor you get asked in a public forum, “So hey, tell us about the hugest job interview that you ever had that you didn’t get, how was that? How do you feel about that?”
- There was some sort of interesting weird honesty in these interviews Alex did back in November 2012, 2 weeks after Lion was born. Maybe he was tired and less guarded or more philosophical about things.
- For the first time in interviews, Alex and Scott admitted that their ego’s clashed a bit in the beginning of Hawaii Five-0.
- I think in some way he admitted here, that the show has in some regard disappointed them as actors and us as viewers as well, with too little character stuff – Alex: “They’ve kind of remained true to that.”
- It makes me sad in a sense – not 100% sure, but as far as I can recall, those interviews that day, were the last real promotional interviews Scott has done for H50 for the last 2 years.
- My greatest wish for Alex, is that he gets his “Braveheart”-role, soon. That one character that will be his greatest as an actor. The one that will live on for generations to come.
- I don’t really care for any of the naked people on the show….. as long as we get Alex (naked or with clothes) 😛