Show Patrol – Chicago Now
By Curt Wagner
7 September 2010
Alex O’Loughlin hopes his third shot at TV success, “Hawaii Five-0,” is a charm. In fact, he might try anything to make it happen. “Anything that helps–just keep it on the air,” the Aussie actor joked about the buzz generated by talk of his many shirtless scenes. “I’ll get the whole kit off if you do that.”
“Hawaii Five-0,” the reboot of the 1960s police drama, premieres at 9 p.m. Monday on CBS with O’Loughlin creating a much more physical–and
sexier–Steve McGarrett than Jack Lord did in the original.
The new McGarrett is a Navy Seal who, after his father is murdered by baddie Victor Hesse (James Marsters), makes a deal with the governor to run an elite police task force designed to stop international terrorists, human traffickers and gun smugglers on the island.
He enlists the aid of former cop Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim), Kelly’s newbie officer niece, Kono Kalakaua (Grace Park), as well as Danny “Danno” Williams (Scott Caan), who isn’t real happy about being teamed with McGarrett.
It’s an action-packed, gorgeously shot drama that, after his CBS’ series “Moonlight” and “Three Rivers” failed to catch fire, should finally give O’Loughlin a hit.
“Basically, if this one doesn’t go the distance, then I’m dumbfounded,” he said.
During our phone conversation, O’Loughlin talked about shooting in Hawaii, his old CBS shows and, maybe a little begrudgingly, the “big deal” made over his shirtless scenes.
Are you having fun in Hawaii?
Alex: Man, it’s great. It’s a really, really special part of the world. And I’m on a show that I’m really excited about. It’s a reboot of the old show that we all know, most of us know and love, but it’s got a very new, modern spin on the tale.
The premiere, directed by Len Wiseman, is action-packed. Will the next episodes be as exciting and cinematic?
Alex: We really deliver. It’s got all the action, it’s got all the character, it’s got a great story. It just doesn’t stop from one page to the next.
Critics talk a lot about character development and other things, but sometimes I just wanna see **** blow up.
Alex: You and every other boy on the planet, mate.
The action is intense, and you’re doing most of your stunts. Maybe you should get combat pay? Scott Caan was injured recently.
Alex: Yeah, he’s a bit softer than me, mate.
Alex: I don’t want to tease him about it though, he’ll get a complex.
Yeah, yeah. But that teasing sort of fits the relationship between your characters, right?
Alex: [Laughs.] Yeah, a little bit. Look, I’m actually a real softie myself. I’m kind of unlike Steve McGarrett in a lot of ways. I’m not as brave, I’m not as smart. [Laughs.] I’m a bit more open-hearted.
I enjoy the rapport between you and Scott, your characters.
Alex: We have a great rapport between us. Something we discovered when we first met was that we had a bunch of mutual friends and we were born, literally, a couple of hours apart. There’s a natural complicity that we found. We have very similar senses of humor, and a sort of sensibility of the world and just the way we’re built. And so that really shows on screen and it plays so well in these two characters.
It gives the show a little bit of buddy-cop humor. I think it adds a lot to what could be just another procedural. Do you enjoy playing the comedy or the action more?
Alex: I love it all. I think most of the comedy lives in the relationship between McGarrett and Danno. In that back-and-forth banter that we have. I just do my part and play my character and of course, you never play the comedy. A lot of it is really funny when I play it back. But it’s … an honest funny. It’s the sort of funny that we have with our siblings, with people who know us better than anyone else. And it’s almost like these two characters met and fell into this brotherly relationship before they even realized what was happening. It’s as enjoyable to play as it is to watch.
Did you know each other before the show?
Alex: No. We met once through a friend, but that was it.
How is your McGarrett different than Jack Lord’s McGarrett?
Alex: First of all, in the pilot you learn all about this McGarrett. You know, whereas in Jack Lord’s character, you didn’t really get much back story. And you get a truckload of back story right away. So we know more about him. He’s a good deal younger, a good deal more energetic, a good deal more aggressive. He’s a Navy Seal and comes back on a vengeance mission to Hawaii, to avenge his father’s death. The reason he takes the job to run the task force is to help him get what he wants, which is to avenge his dad’s murder.
The old show, Jack Lord’s character was more sort of brooding. He was more sort of stylized, as was the style of the day just all around. Everyone’s acting was different, everyone was different. So we’re going for much more naturalism and, yeah, those are a few fundamental differences.
At Comic-Con, Peter Lenkov hinted that we may not have seen the end of James Marsters bad-guy character.
Alex: Yeah, well, no, I have nothing to comment.
OK. Is it fun to have this group of people from almost every genre of TV.
Alex: Yeah. It’s cool, and Scotty, who of course hasn’t really done a TV show, brings something else altogether. It’s great, man. I was interested, as you always are when you move into something new, in how we would all fit together. And it really fits well; I mean the whole “Hawaii Five-0” family, the four of us, sort of compliment each other in different ways. And it makes perfect sense. I could never be a casting agent. I’d get it wrong every time.
Peter told TV Guide about a scene you shot recently where you’re shirtless and coming out of the ocean.
Alex: This sort of makes everything I do from here on out moot. Blah, blah, blah.
That subject just doesn’t interest you, does it?
Alex: What do you want me to say? How do I respond to that? [Laughs.] You know what it’s got to do with my character? OK, he’s a Navy Seal; that’s correct. He’s a Navy Seal so he swims and yeah, that makes sense. And so they say, “We’re going to put the camera here, you go for a swim.” I go for a swim and then they’re like, “Oh, it’s a big deal.” It’s not a big deal, man! I went for a swim. “Yeah, you took your shirt off.” Yeah, who gives a [bleep]? Then, of course, everyone asks me about it, but it’s like, “You’ve never seen a bloke with his shirt off or something?”
Really? I thought I’d be the only person to ask you this.
Alex: Look, [laughs] I get it, mate.
Anything that helps the show, right?
Alex: Yeah, anything that helps — just keep it on the air. I’ll get the whole kit off if you do that. I’ll tell you one thing, it’s nice to get paid to wake up in the morning in Hawaii and at 5:30 just jump into the ocean and go for a swim.
Does it feel a bit like, “I can’t complain about this job?”
Alex: Yeah. Look, I try to always adopt that attitude because I’m extremely lucky. I’ve got a job that I love doing. How rare is it to go and get a degree and actually work in the field that you took? … And not only that, I’m working a great job. I get looked after, I get fed, I get paid well, I get to work with really cool people. I get to do exciting stuff that I enjoy. So it’s all good. It’s a lot of hard work though. We do really long hours and we try not to break bones when we’re mucking around with our own stunts and stuff.
Will we see more cases-of-the-week, or more serialized elements to this?
Alex: Well, you mentioned the first three open with a serialized element, which is–well, potentially–I should say, James Marsters’ character. Listen man, I hate procedural TV. I don’t hate it; I just I get frustrated with it because it’s like this [happens] and then it wraps itself up. I understand the nature of the business and I understand the importance of that so that fans and audience members can tune in whenever and just catch up and enjoy it. … I like long stories. I’d prefer not to just boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom and then it’s all wrapped up neatly. That’s why I loved “The Shield” so much because it was all about arcs.
But to answer your question, finally, yes, it’s absolutely serialized and there will be stories of the week all the time, but there’s going to be a couple of arcs as well.
Well, that’s good. I think that’s more challenging for the viewers, but it’s far more interesting.
Alex: That’s a much simpler way of delivering the enormous monologue I gave you.
Tell me about all the Aussies on American TV.
Alex: Yeah, there’s a few of us. Well, there’s no work at home, so we come over here … When I first came out here 12-13 years ago, I freaked out and put my tail between my legs and went back home again. There were no Aussies here. And I even sort of thought about coming back out about eight years ago, I guess, and started chipping away for a couple of years before I moved six years ago, and there were even fewer Australians then. It’s like there’s been a real influx over the last few years … We get trained pretty comprehensively back there as well.
The only disappointing thing about it is we never get to hear your accents.
Alex: Well, you’re hearing it now.
That’s right. That’s why I love my job. So let’s talk a little bit about your past shows, like “Moonlight.” Maybe a little before its time, now that we have the vampire craze. I was happy to see repeats on the CW this summer though.
Alex: Yeah, it’s great. It was a great show; it was a great experience for me. It was a huge learning curve for me. I’d done “The Shield” and I’d done a bunch of films. But it was the first time that the weight of the show was on my shoulders, so to speak. I think, as a lot of young, diligent actors probably do the first time around, I took that to the grave with me. I did everything in my power to keep that show on the air. I fought so hard. You wouldn’t believe the hours I worked. For me working an 18 -, 19-hour day was normal.
On the Warner Brothers lot at the time, we became a thing of fable. People would be like, “Oh my God, you’re on ‘Moonlight.’ Is it true that you guys would do 100 hours a week?” I’d be like, “Yeah.” Like crews would leave and then come back. And we’d still be there shooting. So, it was good. The show itself was what it was … Yeah, I wish it was a different experience on a couple of levels, but it was a wonderful, wonderful learning curve for me.
Loved you on “The Shield.”
Alex: Thank you.
And how creepy you became on that “Criminal Minds” episode.
Alex: Yeah, I’m a creepy dude.
So you weren’t acting in that one?
Alex: No, that was just me, mate.
Right. And then “Three Rivers.” What happened with that?
Alex: Well, personally I think it was political. But I thought it was a great show. I thought it had a lot of integrity; I did a lot of work for that. I spent a lot of time in Cleveland. I spent a lot of time in the OR, a foot away from actual heart transplants and open heart surgery and a lot of time shadowing Gonzo Gonzalez, the doctor that my character was based on. And the rest of the time I was in my trailer studying.
So, that was what it was. But the great thing that came from that for me is my participation with Donate Life America, for whom I’ve become an ambassador and spokesperson. And I’ve been able to raise awareness. And I wish I could do more for them, but I’ve done a little bit and it’s just any chance to give back I think is really important, especially from people like us who have a really great job and are in the public eye. That I believe is why that show happened.
I’ve talked to Eddie McClintock, who is in “Warehouse 13.” He has talked about how he was in so many pilots and series before finally hitting with “Warehouse 13.” He said he’ll never understand the industry and why some shows work and some don’t. Do you have that sort of feeling too?
Alex: Eddie’s a good dude and we got along really well. He did an episode of “Moonlight,” and we chatted about a bunch of stuff. And yeah, I do mate. Who knows what’s gonna happen? I just don’t know. The recipe is constantly trying to be figured out. But look, basically, if this one doesn’t go the distance, then I’m dumbfounded. I’m just going to go and learn how to build houses or something.
What would you do if you weren’t an actor?
Alex: I don’t know man, I am an actor. When I was a kid I did a play when I was about eight years old, and apparently I said afterwards, “I’m going to be an actor.” … So I guess I had it in the back of my mind the whole time because I really love telling stories. And taking an audience on a journey.
But if I wasn’t an actor I might be a teacher. Like I really love kids and I love watching kids learn, watching the development process of humans. … Either that or maybe a carpenter or something. I love construction because it’s still a form of creation. And I say that because I’m not talented enough to be a musician or an artist. [Laughs.]
Have you done all kinds of weapons training for “Five-0”?
Alex: Yeah, I’ve done a lot. Like I did a bunch of stuff with LAPD and the S.W.A.T. guys for “The Shield,” and I trained with the Seals in Coronado before this. So I’ve done a lot of weapons stuff. It was fun.
So if you weren’t an actor, you could be a doctor, a cop ….
Alex: I could be a heart surgeon, a cop, a vampire.
What do you think people will be surprised about in “Five-0” or about your McGarrett?
Alex: I think they’re going to be surprised at how sort of ruthless my McGarrett is. But also I think they’re going to be surprised at how thoroughly they enjoy the show on every level. Because I really do believe this show delivers character, crime and comedy in perfect balance.
My Thoughts (Rant)
- Just a general thought – The person who wrote the article obviously did not know the correct way to use the word ‘SEAL’
- Seeing Alex naked in the movies Feed and Oyster Framer, did not prevent or distract me from totally appreciating his wonderful acting abilities in both those movies. Therefore I doubt if seeing him take his kit off in Hawaii Five-0, will prevent any of us seeing what a great actor he is. (If that makes any sense?) 😛
- If people are so blind that they can’t look past the physical beauty, why punish those who can appreciate both? And I think we have been severely punished in Season 5. In some instances it feels to me that the writers have forgotten that they have a character like Steve to write any real story for. And that they deliberately ‘underplay’ him as a hot-blooded man, who is also physically beautiful.
- “The reason he takes the job to run the task force is to help him get what he wants, which is to avenge his dad’s murder.” <<<<<< Is the fact that this was achieved, now that WoFat is dead, maybe reason that Steve’s character has become without purpose in Season 5?
- Has sometimes out-of-character Steve, with no real purpose or someone to love, made him a dull character in Season 5? 😦
- And is the only way that we will ever see Steve shirtless this season, just so that we could be tortured? That is severe torture to all the hot-blooded female (and some male) viewers in my eyes! 😦
- If a production does not use ALL the talents of the actors at their disposal – it s a