Originally posted on Five-0 Undercover in 3 parts:
on 17, 27 & 28 October 2011 by site owner officer808
I think Officer808 did a fantastic job to recap the event. It is sad that the site is no longer updating since December 2014. There is a big gap in the Hawaii Five- fandom without them. 😦
Fans and film aficionados alike assembled at the Kalekulani hotel on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon in Waikiki. Their goal – to get a glimpse of the stars of Hawaii Five-0 and also to get insight into the production of the hit show. All this was part of the 31st annual Hawaii International Film Festival. In a panel format, HIFF Programming Director Anderson Le led a discussion with Hawaii Five-0 executive producer Peter Lenkov, director Steve Boyum, and actors Alex O’Loughlin, Daniel Dae Kim, Grace Park, Lauren German, and Taylor Wily.
Anderson opened up by asking Peter about his motivation for doing Five-0. Peter responded by saying that watching the show was a family event in his home, and that he has fond memories of watching it with his father. In a similar manner, Peter envisioned the characters of Hawaii Five-0 as a family first. Peter cited a critical difference between his Five-0 reboot from many other remakes was that the show was primarily about the characters, whereas other shows were primarily police procedurals. He noted that in re-envisioing the show he wanted to keep the spirit alive of the original, and honor the source material. Peter emphasized that if he could make these guys interesting, he had a shot to get them on the air. He mentioned that in the course of pitching the show to the executives, he stressed to them the character “archtype…who they *could* be”. He added that in the course of the evolution of writing the pilot, he was writing specifically for Daniel Dae Kim as the uncle of the group. After meeting Daniel for a preliminary meeting, older Chin became younger, and Kono became his cousin instead of his niece.
Peter gave some behind the scene plot tidbits as well. He hoped to trick the audience in the Pilot, hoping that the audience were led to believe that Victor Hesse was possibly the new Wo Fat. He revealed he never told Jean Smart (Governor Jameson) she was a villain until two days prior to filming the season 1 finale, fearing that she would play into being a villain throughout the season. Commenting on Danny’s scene in which he begged (the intercom) to not fight him over Grace’s visitation, Peter confessed that he actually sat down and figured out how much time Danny would actually have; “I wrote a lot of me to the Danny character…and it represents true feelings,” Peter said.
Anderson asked Peter about serialized versus procedural episodes, and how season 2 is shaping with regards to that. Peter replied that “serialization is a thread that runs through the whole season, but when there’s a break in the case, we’re there with our people.”
Co-executive producer and director Steve Boyum chimed in on production of the show. He commented on Peter’s great writing, the cast’s great acting but spent some time talking about stunt coordinator Jeff Cadiente and the stunt actors’ work. Regarding Alex’s fight scene in the restroom of “Ha’i’ole” Steve said, “Alex is just so good at that, I just get out of the way…I marvel what they can do.” He noted that most of the cast members “do their own stunts, for the most part” and compared the bumps and bruises on set to playing in the NFL.
Hawaii Five-0′s high production value makes Hawaii look great. Anderson asked Steve how does the show stay on a network budget. The show needs to compete with feature films, Steve said. “Television has a smaller budget, but the TV audience expectation is high, and we have the team to do it,” Steve said.
The actor’s responses were edited for clarity and brevity, but here’s how the rest of how the Hawaii Five-0 panel went.
The crowd cheered when Anderson Le announced, “We’re at the point where we’re bringing in the cast in.”
One by one, the cast was announced:
“Taylor Wiley!” I clapped enthusiastically and gave a “Woohoo!”
“Lauren German!” She got a vigorous clap and a “YEAH LAUREN!”
“Grace Park!” A slightly more vigorous clap and a big “WOOHOO!”
“Daniel Dae Kim!” A vigorous clap and another “WOOHOO!”
“Alex O’Loughlin!” The audience cheers drowned out everything else.
As they got to the stage, Peter announced that Scott couldn’t be there, due to the fact that he was in Los Angeles to receive an award from the Life Rolls On charity. Peter played a voicemail that Scott left for the audience:
“Hey guys this is Scott Caan, I’m really sorry I couldn’t be there with you. If you have any questions, please refer them to Alex.” Scott would be missed in the panel, but we all got a good laugh out of the message.
Anderson began his questions again when the cast seated themselves. The first question Anderson asked was to Alex, as to how his portrayal of Steve McGarrett is different from Jack Lord’s portrayal.
Alex: This is a question I’ve been asked a lot. [With Hawaii Five-0] the possibilities are endless, and in 42 minutes we try to rival what you see in feature films. My Steve McGarrett is a man with a huge past, he’s a SEAL, he’s on a mission. So I try to stay away from the old show and anything Jack did. Like other things I build it form the ground up. We do honor the old show, like the hat rack in Steve’s office is the original from Jack’s office.
Anderson: How was the reaction to the show in Australia?
Alex: I’ve only been back once since the show started. But my mum loves it.
Anderson asked Alex about his acting technique.
Alex: There are so many different interpretations, roles, scenes, that’s what makes casting so important. Sometimes we’re only given two hours [for a scene]. … It’s like a cold instinct, a muscle. I just do it.
Anderson: How is Hawaii for you?
Alex: I love Hawaii, it’s my home. Australia will always be my home. I’ll always be an Aussie … I kind of believe that’s the way things happen … If you kind of step away from it … me being here really isn’t an accident. Each day that goes by it becomes so much more clear to me because I wake up in these islands, I’ve never felt anywhere more home than Australia than Hawaii. I’m a homeowner here. I have a dog. I think that means more than having a wife or a child. Once you get a dog, where I come from, you’re not going anywhere. No matter what happens, I’ll always have a place here.
The locals in the audience went crazy after hearing that. There was a distinct sincerity in his last comment about Hawaii being home for him, and it impressed me that someone can take to these islands so quickly.
Anderson directed his next set of questions to Daniel. He asked Daniel how different Chin Ho is now from the original series.
Daniel: I watched a few episodes with Peter to get a background. The dynamic of that show was different from our show. Alex is a leader in a different way. All the other characters are in support of [Jack’s] Steve McGarrett. But what I really like in this iteration of Five-0 is that all the characters have something interesting going on themselves and the relationship they have with McGarrett comes from their own history. I love the fact that Chin Ho is flawed and that he has his own demons and he’s finding his place in Five-0 in the midst of his own personal journey.
Anderson: Some things are so iconic in this show, like Chin always has the shotgun.
Daniel: That’s one of the things that I like about this show is that Peter is so collaborative. Peter and I were talking about motorcycles one day, and then suddenly, Chin Ho has a motorcycle. I remember in “Lost” once I had a particular shotgun, and I thought, why not Chin Ho be the heavy in the group, and it became a signature thing. Being collaborative is a great switch.
Anderson: How’s playing Grace’s cousin?
Daniel: Awful. But better cousin that uncle! Grace and I knew each other from before. It’s nice when you can bring that sense of family to an already existing relationship, and you don’t have to build it from scratch. We know each other and like each other and it’s a natural extension of all that.
Grace Park was next for the panel questions. Like her previous role in Battlestar Galactica, Grace plays another reinvented character in Five-0, both of whom were male in the original series. Anderson asked what it’s like to play a reinvented character in two different series.
Grace: It offers a lot of freedom to actors, if you study something that is going to be redone, you see what works. What are you going to bring in that’s different? I think changing the genders automatically opens more doors. Even if I tried to make it as close as I could, it would naturally be a huge departure. I feel fortunate for that.
Anderson pressed on Grace’s current portrayal of Kono, asking if she enjoyed the dark territory the character was moving into.
Grace: I love it. Don’t get me wrong, last year was great, ’cause Kono got to work really hard and it was a very steep learning curve for her and for me as well. We had so much action to do after the first episode, I read that she gets into a fight with another character and the fight on page on page was so long, and I just got so scared thinking “This is like a feature fight, you don’t do this on television.” Two women fighting like this totally going at it. They brought us in a day early to rehearse it. I knew that this was something very different … and it was also great because we weren’t in the pool in bikinis or something [she threw her arms up and gave a girly scream], but that would have been fun too, I would have done it. I totally forgot the question.
Anderson: Tell me about your character arc this season.
Grace: Oh yes, I totally enjoy it. Sorry, the bikinis distracted me. I really, really, enjoy it. Even though you don’t see Kono that much, and you do hear things like “She wouldn’t return my calls” or the team at HQ watching Tom Sizemore’s character on TV, saying she was stripped of her badge, and things of that nature, you see that, um … wait … that aired right? [She looked to Peter and he nodded] I just got this really scary feeling … Anyway it was really fun to explore that part of her character and then to see how much we’re going to flesh out this other side.
Anderson: So you like the stunt work?
Grace: My body doesn’t always look forward to it! Its one of the thing l look forward to. … At the beginning, it was scary! But you do it, you get better, then you bring your stunt people in and they make it look really good.
Anderson: How’s it living in Hawaii now?
Grace: Totally great!
Grace was delightful to listen to. I loved her sense of humor. Anderson then turned to Lauren and asked how the transition was for her as the newcomer to the show.
Lauren: It’s awesome. I got hired to do all the bikini fighting!
The million dollar question on the fandom’s mind was the next thing that Anderson asked. He asked if there were going to be any romantic sparks between McGarrett and Lori.
Lauren: Yeah, I honestly don’t have the scripts too far in advance …. If it goes there, great, but I haven’t read into anything about that. There may be sparks here and there, but that’s about it.
Anderson: What about the stunt work?
Lauren: I am horrible with all of that. I don’t know where my gun should be pointed, I’m falling off horses … It’s a nightmare, but they’re very smart to keep me away from all that. But when we get it, we get it right and it’s fun!
The last actor on the panel to receive questioning was local Taylor Wily. He was all smiles during the whole panel.
Anderson: Kamekona has become such a fan favorite, how has your life changed?
Taylor: Big time. Everywhere I go people recognize me. I spent the summer in Washington state, I couldn’t believe the people there recognized me. It was scary!
Anderson: Was Kamekona going to be a one time character ?
Peter: I wrote the character to be our Huggy Bear. I remember when we met, he walked in, I looked to the director of the pilot and told him “that’s the guy”. Then Taylor opened his mouth and I told the director “That’s definitely the guy”. There’s no way he would have been in as many episodes if he wasn’t as great as he is.
Anderson: Taylor so are you looking for other roles?
Peter [jumping in]: No wait, there are no other roles, I can answer that for him!
Anderson: Are you taking acting classes?
Taylor: I don’t know about acting classes, I’m Five-0 for life!
The audience cheered wildly at this.
Peter: What makes him so good is that he’s so natural … he doesn’t have any formal training. He plays it very real, his timing is perfect, like he was born to do this.
Anderson spent a lot of time asking the actors about stunt work. He turned back to Steve Boyum and asked how he choreographs a stunt scene.
Steve: It helps that [Alex] is a martial artist. Alex is the best fight guy I’ve worked with. I look at the fight as a three act play, a beginning, middle and end. There’s an arc of struggle. Alex has a lot of input into this, more so than any other actor I’ve worked with. For me…I just want to keep it energetic and nervous when we shoot it for the visual
Alex: When Steve says that “Alex has more input than any other actor” what he’s really saying is that I have a big mouth. [Alex thanked Steve for his compliment.] A lot of my life has been dedicated to martial arts and fighting techniques. I want to keep physical. I think growing up in Australia, as a young working class kid, I was fascinated by other cultures. … I found Japanese martial arts. It was so grounded and so whole, and so wonderfully rich in culture , tradition and respect, I fell in love with it. The discipline that I got is part of the driving force of my life … It’s something that gets me out of bed when I’m tired, and pushes me when I’m hurt.
Alex mentioned that he is learning jujitsu, and that the night prior, his instructor put him in a sleeper hold and didn’t realize it until he woke up from it. Aww, poor guy.
Alex: Steve is a Captain America type, stoic, military trained. As opposed to Danny who’s loose and fast, a smart ass, [Scott] can have a lot of fun with that character. Not with McGarrett, he’s very by the book. I get to express who he is physically.
Anderson directed his next question at the entire panel, asking how is it working on season 2, compared to the first season.
Daniel: Season 1, we’re getting to know the roles, we’re learning about each other as actors. Season 2, we got the hang of it, we’ve streamlined the operation, we’ve brought in people like Steve and there’s a knowledge that’s there, that wasn’t in season 1. We know the characters and the style of the show. It makes our days much easier. The working style gets easier. The crew gets to know each other and gets things done faster and better.
Grace: I really did enjoy season 1 because it was an origin story, of the Five-0 coming together. It was fun to see the how and whys … As fun as that was, I do love this season because, now we know each other. But, we still don’t know much about McGarrett’s past for instance, and there still might be more relationships that we can pull apart like Chin Ho and Malia. At the same time, we can play with other people, and we can bring in guest stars, and you have these other relationships start to flesh out. Not just with Five-0, but with each team member and their prospective lives. That’s made it a lot of fun.
Taylor: …This year the difference is just better. It’s still fun. But it’s just…much more better.
By the way Taylor was trying to answer, you could tell that he was trying to be a lot more descriptive, but his simple answer was more than enough to convey his enthusiasm for the second season.
Anderson: Lauren, how was it joining a successful show?
Lauren: I really enjoyed myself, everyone is wonderful. I’m the worst at this by the way, I’m shy, I’m having a panic attack. … I could vomit.
What she threw in at the end was funny and adorable at the same time.
Anderson asked the actors a good question about their acting technique. Considering what twists, turns and plot reveals come throughout the season, how do the actors base their acting?
Grace: That’s one of the tricky things … how much do you tell your actors, how far in advance? But as an actor, I think it’s good to be able to trust them. But like in Battlestar, there were so many little secrets, twists and cliffhangers, it’s fun that no one knows about it and you just embed little things here and there. The acting is fun, but when you get to play like that you get to be a surgeon or an artist with the craft.
Daniel: That’s the kind of thing that keeps us interested as participants. We can read this like a crime of the week but we can invent ourselves by solving the crime. That’s one way we can keep interested in the show. But what I find more interesting is that the show imitates real life in that all of us have a sense of ourselves and who we are but doesn’t necessarily mean the adventure coming down our way means we’ll be changing. When it’s that way for the characters as well, it keeps me interested.
Alex: Sometimes you’ll want to get the whole script, and you’ll never get the whole script. [Getting the script] is helpful to me. The more info I have, the more opportunity I have.
The final section involved the panel members reading preselected audience questions to each other.
Anderson: [Question] “Can you make more episodes of pure cops and robbers?”
Peter: That’s “Law and Order”. We’re trying to do something different. We try to do something more than a procedural show, it’s about characters, mythology. If it was a pure cop show , you’d get bored after a while.
Peter: [Question] “How far in advance do you have to line up guest for the episodes?”
We prep an episode for eight days, then we shoot for another eight days. We usually start thinking about guest stars in the eight-day window of prep. Sometimes we have a guest star in mind, sometimes our casting dept comes up with a suggestion. Tom Sizemore we had met earlier knowing we wanted to build something around him.
Alex: [Question] “What countries can you view Hawaii Five-0 in?” Peter?
Peter: Over 200 countries.
Alex: So, a lot. If you’re concerned about going on vacation, don’t be, because you have 200 country options and still be able to watch. I have a question. When it plays in Kenya and I’m like, “Danny come here,” do I say [Alex made clicking noises]?
That was the funniest thing I had ever heard Alex O’Loughlin say.
Peter: Usually the subtitles are in English, but when they do translations themselves to whatever language of the country, you have to rely on them that they’ll dub it with good actors. Bad actors can really change the show. I’ve seen some episodes of our show in some countries that I watch and I wonder, “What show is this?!?”
Grace: [Question] “Alex and Scott, what’s more fun? The stunts and action, or the bromance?”
Alex: Ok … since I’ve been officially been given permission to speak for his Royal Highness, he definitely would say the bromance, ’cause he’s so into me. As for me, I like him. It’s kind of one and the same, the bromance and the stunts … it’s pretty tricky. We talk a lot of about stunts but the bromance is what really stood out in the pilot script. The first cargument that we had .. it’s so natural, we just enjoyed each other. We sort of go for it as actors, it’s safe to go for each other’s throats, cause when they call cut, it’s all good. I like my bromance.
The whole “he’s so into me” line officially outdid the Kenyan clicking noises as the funniest thing I heard Alex say.
Lauren (to Alex): [Question] “You have a great Australian accent. You also sound like an authentic American and your Hawaiian words are also excellent.” Oh, over! I didn’t read the back [she flipped the card over]. “Why are you so handsome? I love you.” Hah, no! “How are you able to master the accents and speak the Hawaiian words like an absolute local?”
Alex: Who is the question from?
Someone: Scott Caan.
At this point the crowd was in stitches.
Alex: My mastery of the Australian accent started from … birth [he gave a sly smile]. As an Aussie actor, you kind of have to learn the American accent. The pidgin is tricky, from the beginning I had a lot of very-”helpful”-locals coming up and volunteering their advice. I had this one woman come up to me in Haleiwa and said “Yo…it’s brah, not bro.” I said “Ok, brah.” “No, not me, you idiot,” she said and walked away. I made it a point to learn quickly after that.
Taylor: [Question] What is the most rewarding thing about being a member of the Hawaii Five-0 team?”
I just want to be a part of something that is at the top level. With the writers from the top to the crew and the production. I’ve been doing this thing for twenty years, trying to get a job, and the most rewarding thing is to be part of a good, solid team.
Peter: [Question] “Do all cast members live in Hawaii and where do they commute from?”
Get your pens out, I’ll give you Alex’s address. Yes they all live in Hawaii close to work.
Peter: [Question] “What are three things that contributed to the success of the show?”
Talent, the crew and luck.
Peter: [Question] “What are the reasons for a remake to succeed while a lot fail?”
Alex: I think this is a good question, and I’ve been around failure, so I’ll be answering. Luck is definitely a part of it … but you have to have a good cast, a good crew, everything needs to be in place. The most important thing in my experience is the story. You have to have a team giving out good scripts continually, that’s where it all starts. It all depends on how the show runner handles the material and allows us to do what we do.
Daniel: There needs to be the right combination of honoring the original show and also updating enough to make it right for today’s viewing sensibilities. Some shows have broken away so much from the original that they’re unrecognizable, other tried to stay so faithful to the original material that it almost became irrelevant. It’s definitely a combination of what Alex said, including what’s in the culture at the time, and a healthy respect for what you have, and a willingness to take chances.
Grace: I was worried [about doing another remake]. There are pros and cons. You’ll recognize the name right away and you have a built in audience who are excited. But there will be a bunch of those who say “Don’t mess it up, man!” or “I don’t like that person!” People get very possessive, and there are expectations that come along with it.
Peter: I think that most people avoid doing remakes for fear of crashing and burning on a big scale. If a pilot didn’t go, it’s just another pilot that didn’t go. Taking Five-0, and it not going could be on a grand scale. What we had going for us was our key to success, our casting. We really liked our people from the beginning. Most reboots didn’t grow from characters right from the beginning. We made it about people, the original four was the key to our success. Hawaii has a big role, but there are a lot of other ingredients.
And a final parting word from the Executive Producer: “We know how season 2 ends.”
And the last words from Officer 808:
Overall, I was impressed by the amount of insight that they provided, from production notes, the stunt work, and all the way to personal acting techniques and views. I think fans as well as aspiring actors got a lot out of the panel. I loved the fact that everyone had a great sense of humor and had fun answering the questions. Candid opportunities like these are rare, and I’m sure the audience appreciated the time that the panelists took to be there.