Alex living like a Lord (Driving boy toy bonus)
by Holly Byrnes
in Herald Sun & Northern Territory News24
19 & 24 January 2011
YOU can tell a lot about a man by the car he drives. Take, for instance, Alex O’Loughlin, Australia’s latest leading-man export and the star of the new Hawaii Five-O. Not so long ago this NIDA graduate, by his own admission, was limping around Los Angeles in a “piece of shit car“, hocking his stereo and working for $15 an hour to pay his rent.
Cut to Waikiki’s hottest hotel The Edition, where O’Loughlin is sitting pretty (thank you, work gods) flashing a set of perfectly veneered teeth you’d expect from Central Casting Dentistry. “I’m driving a pretty nice car now and they pay me well,” he smiles, with just the right amount of Aussie humility. “Life’s great and perseverance pays off.”
For this petrol head the wheels parked in his Honolulu driveway these days aren’t nearly as important as the journey he’s taken to get here (for the record, he’s driving a ’97 Land Rover Defender).
Three years ago, when he was lifting bricks in lieu of picking up acting work, his ride was more a health hazard than a boy’s toy. “It was either a Jeep Cherokee, that exploded on me, or maybe a Gio Prism, the American equivalent of a Mitsubishi Colt. I think that exploded on me, too. To be honest, I’m surprised I’m still here: the vehicles I’ve had should have killed me by now,” he says.
Now, driving the reboot of one of the most iconic US TV shows of all time, O’Loughlin is still taking his chances. The 34-year-old has already had two US television series, Three Rivers and Moonlight, fail in their first year. He admits he was bracing himself to strike out on the small screen, three times unlucky.
Despite the early success of the new Five-O (pulling a solid US audience of 14.2 million-plus on debut in May), you get the feeling O’Loughlin is not going to leave them wondering this time around. “If those cars didn’t kill me, this show will,” he says, only half-joking.
That’s the first thing you’ll notice about O’Loughlin’s Steve McGarrett versus the debonair original, Jack Lord: he gets physical. And how. Throwing himself into the role, with the action amped up to the crash-bang standards of TV viewers today, this is McGarrett, full-throttle. And as female fans have come to appreciate, he certainly has the body for the job.
Although he recently showed off his sensitive side on the big screen, opposite Jennifer Lopez in rom-com The Back-up Plan, it was O’Loughlin’s potential as an action hero that attracted the show’s executive producer Peter Lenkov. “I’d met Alex a couple of years ago on another project and felt that he could be a leading man in the action genre but had never been tapped for that world,” Lenkov says. “I needed someone who didn’t bring a lot of baggage from other roles, someone who wasn’t identifiable to another franchise, either TV or film, so he could go in and really make McGarrett his own.”
With no less than the state of Hawaii and Lenkov’s father, a diehard fan of the original, to impress, O’Loughlin was determined not to let expectation weigh him down. “I’ve always had the attitude that if it all goes to s—, I can just go home and do something else. You can’t think too much about that stuff (expectation). You just have to go for it, do your best and hope it’s not terrible,” he says.
It’s anything but terrible, with the chemistry between O’Loughlin and his on-screen offsider, Danny “Danno” Williams, played by the charmingly unfiltered Scott Caan, powering the show. The Entourage regular (and son of film star James Caan) may have pulled most of the plaudits and a Golden Globe nomination for his role as the neurotic jester to O’Loughlin’s stitched-up lieutenant commander, but Caan Jr gives his Aussie partner his props. “Alex has a really tough job on this show, what he’s doing is really difficult and I don’t think people give him enough credit,” he says.
“They’ve given me levels, the tough guy who has a sensitive side. But McGarrett’s supposed to be straight down the middle and that’s really hard for an actor.”
On set, the battle of the blokes has gone O’Loughlin’s way, with Caan leading the injury tally. “Scotty’s been to the hospital a couple of times, the poor bugger,” the Canberra-born star says. “He tore his ACL (knee), had to go to LA for surgery on that, then he went to hospital because we did a big shoot out and he got a piece of metal in his eye. I’ve been OK so far, I’ve just used Scott as a shield.”
It was while doing one of his own stunts, flogging a high-powered dirtbike through the mountains of Oahu, that O’Loughlin stopped a second to pinch himself. “I’m up there, no helmet and just told to go for it,” he says. “I was riding this thing into the side of the mountain, raining sweat and giving it some. And halfway through it, I thought to ask, ‘If I die, will insurance cover this?’ “
His mum and those studio safety heads should relax: this Aussie bloke-made-good has a firm handle on things.
AUSSIE ALEX MAKES THE ROLE HIS OWN
THE “blue steel’ gaze is the same, but comparisons between Alex O’Loughlin’s Steve McGarrett and original actor Jack Lord should end there. While Lord, in all his 1970s polyester glory, put the character (even the state of Hawaii) on the map, it’s a sexy Aussie who drags this iconic series into the 21st century.
“This is not Jack Lord’s Hawaii Five-O, it’s mine,” O’Loughlin says. “First of all, Jack Lord was a man without a past, but from the pilot you’ll learn so much more about my character.” A Navy SEAL who returns to Oahu to avenge his cop father’s murder, McGarrett is in control, pulling together his crack squad of divorced dad Danno (Caan), exiled cop Chin Ho Kelly (Lost’s Daniel Dae Kim) and rookie detective Kono Kalakaua (Grace Park).
For traditionalists, the wave-riding theme song is back, as is McGarrett’s arresting slug, “book ’em, Danno”. While the line riles Caan, who begged producers to can it, executive producer Peter Lenkov insisted the “touchstone” stay.
Northern Territory News24