#AlexOLoughlin : Road Less Traveled

Go beyond the beach on a journey into the heart of Hawaii and the soul of Alex O’Loughlin.

By Ryan Devlin

for CBS Watch!

It was early 2010, and the Australian actor had just been offered the lead role on the reboot of the classic crime drama Hawaii Five-0, stepping into the shoes of the legendary Jack Lord to play the 50th state’s taciturn top cop, Steve McGarrett. Accepting meant moving to Oahu, in the center of the planet’s loveliest island archipelago.

It should have been a no-brainer. Cue that big wave and the theme song by the Ventures: Dum-duh-da-da-da-dum ….

“I was conflicted,” Alex O’Loughlin says, reflecting on the decision from his house in Waikiki’s idyllic Diamond Head.

“I’d done two network shows before that, neither of which  had gone past a season.”

He’d played vampire/private investigator Mick St. John on the short-lived 2007 supernatural romance Moonlight. A year later, he was Dr Andy Yablonski on the medical drama Three Rivers, cancelled after just 8 episodes.

Though anything seemed better than being penniless in Los Angeles, to suffer through another failed show in the middle of the Pacific, 2500 miles from the mainland, was a risk he wasn’t sure he wanted to take.

“I didn’t know anything about Hawaii. I asked everyone, “What do I do? Is this the right move?” O’Loughlin says.

“Everybody was like, ‘Are you crazy? What’s wrong with you?’.”

He took the gig, staying in the Hilton Hawaiian Village during the first month. For fans of the show, that’s where McGarrett and partner Danny “Danno” Williams were recently snookered into a joint spa weekend with their significant others.

“It was beautiful, but I didn’t get to see the real Hawaii,”  O’Loughlin says

I got a glimpse of something that wasn’t what Hawaii is. The weird touristy, crazy hotel part. I still didn’t know how I felt about it, but the pilot felt really good.”

It was, and remains a really good pilot. In the nail biting prelude, naval commander  McGarrett’s convoy comes under rocket fire in the mountains of South Korea by baddies out to free arms dealer prisoner, Anton Hess. Amid the attack, McGarrett  listens on his satellite phone, as his father, John, is killed on Oahu by Anton’s brother, Victor – though not before the Honolulu Police Department veteran leaves his son a few cryptic words.

By the time the waves breaks and the opening credits roll, you are hooked: McGarrett has a vendetta and mystery to solve, and you’re coming along with him. Reboots are tough, but this show’s depth, coupled with O’Loughlin’s chiseled portrayal of McGarrett , made the 20th century Hawaii Five-0 an instant hit. Suddenly Oahu started feeling more certain.

“People say the island either embrace you or push you away. I found myself as a gift from the islands, being blessed in and given a Hawaiian name.

I found all sorts of things drawing me in deeper and deeper.”

With a full season to shoot, he started to learn the local rhythms from friends, like fellow cast member Daniel Dae Kim, whose knowledge of Oahu stretches back to his days filming Lost.

He took up surfing. A few years in, he flew in some friends from back home in Australia to help him rebuild a mid-century modern home he’d found in Diamond Head that had “spectacular bones.”

Then he met the Hawaiian surfer model  Malia Jones. The couple had a son, Lion, in 2012, and later married.

The house, filled with boys. O’Loughlin brought to the family his teenage son, Saxon, and Jones brought a son from a previous marriage, Spike.

“I’m about to use the G word to embrace the scope”, O’Loughlin says

“I don’t know what is out there. I don’t know whether there’s a God or whether there’s lots of gods or whether there’s just universal energy, but I know from what’s happened that there’s something bigger than me.”

As O’Loughlin’s life was progressing on Oahu, so was McGarrett’s albeit down a much rockier family path. He avenged the death of his father. His mother, Doris, believed to be dead for 20 years, turned up alive, having faked her death to escape threats from her CIA past.

He vanquished his true nemesis –  the nefarious crime boss Wo Fat – who over the course of seasons framed him for murder of Hawaii’s governor, kidnapped and tortured and revealed himself to be McGarrett’s virtual half-brother. He had two romantic relationships and has spent a lot of time shirtless and even more time kicking sundry bad-guy ass.

Hawaii Five-0 seasons are epic – each a whopping 25 episodes. Multiply that by seven, and O’Loughlin is approaching No 175. Playing a character for that long does things to you.

O’Loughlin is in a territory where few actors ever get to tread.

“It’s such a volume,” he says

“This has been a master class for me. I can definitely drop into McGarrett’s head space anytime. I have a bible of who he is in my soul, in my mind”

With Wo Fat and his family issues somewhat in the rearview, McGarrett seems to be finding a modicum of peace on the show.

“This season has been more of an easy-peasy McGarrett,” O’Loughlin says.

“He still misses his dad, and the thing with Doris still hasn’t totally left him. But it’s not all like, “Argh! I’ve got to save the world!”

Still, O’Loughlin is happy to leave the character behind when shooting wraps.

“He’s a proper tough guy and a Navy SEAL. He’s always ready to go, walking into rooms like, “What are we doing? What do we get?

I’ve had the great fortune of being exposed to a lot of Navy SEAL’s, who’ve helped me with the character. They’re terrific guys. But being like them requires a specific sort of energy, and I have to manufacture that energy,” he says.

“At the end of the day, it’s like “Keep calm and have another cold one”

Paradise hasn’t been all surf and breathtaking sunsets. McGarrett may be a SEAL and a Teflon supercop, but O’Loughlin isn’t, and injuries have taken their toll.

In the first few seasons, he elected to most of his own stunts, which he says was a mistake. He rattles off a litany of fractures and lacerations that could rival a snapshot collection of charts in any emergency room.

“I blew one of my knees, I’ve torn ligaments and tendons, ankles and both shoulders both wrists,” he says

“I’ve knocked my front teeth out. I’ve got fake front teeth. I tore my right shoulder to pieces – three external tears, a labrum tear, and a detachment of the bicep tendon. My current favourite injury is two herniated disks in my lower lumbar, which I am receiving stem cell treatment for to avoid surgery.”

The last injury spooked O’Loughlin. Always athletic, he has given up everything except swimming. The pain was so great, he could barely rouse himself from bed, and he worried about being able to throw a football with his grandkids.

Signed on to Hawaii Five-0 through eight seasons, he began talking about walking away while he still could. But recently, he’s felt his workload lighten, and those stem cell injections? They’ve been “magic”, he says. Does that mean he might challenge Jack Lord’s record 12 seasons as McGarrett?

“That would be a miracle,” says O’Loughlin with a laugh.

“But I can see coming back and doing another season or two. I think this show is everything. It’s the core of it all.”

One thing is certain: O’Loughlin has found home.

“The majority of my memories are now Hawaiian memories, ” he says

You’ve just got to look around. You’ve got to watch the waves in the winter here. There’s something bigger than me in the world, and I feel that source or whatever that is had something to do with the whole journey for me, because now it all makes sense.”


taciturn: reserved or uncommunicative in speech; saying little.

archipelago: group of islands

nefarious: wicked or criminal.

modicum: a small quantity of a particular thing, especially something considered desirable or valuable

litany: a tedious recital or repetitive series

My thoughts

  • Of course we will on a later occasion make a separate post of all the beautiful picture from the article.
  • Interesting to see that the magazine or photographer chose to edit out Alex’s nipple tattoos?
  • Of course he did not finish up rebuilding the house and then met Malia. They were already married when the renovations were done in 2015.
  • The writer really like to use “big” words. My dictionary was working overtime.
  • It seems that there are 3 or 4 different covers for the magazine. Reports of fans getting the Alex cover and others getting another cover, but at least the full story inside.


Filed under Alex O´Loughlin, articles, Hawaii Five-0, Steve McGarrett, Transcript

42 responses to “#AlexOLoughlin : Road Less Traveled

  1. I got mine in the mail today! It’s wonderful to have and to hold! It’s been a while since we’ve been blessed with Alex on a magazine cover and with an extensive photo layout inside as well. As to the tat edits… CBS does appear to have a problem with his ‘tit tats!’ At least the digital retoucher removed them without leaving red blotches like the make-up people do on H5-0. But it’s all good! In the interview portion, it is also great to see that he is doing so well with his treatment for his back injury that he is open to the possibility of H5-0 beyond season 8! ❤︎

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kathysr

      How and where did you order the magazine? I want to do the same. It will be my ONLY Alex magazine spread! I cannot believe how little publicity he and the show have gotten over seven years. NCIS has been on the cover of TV Guide twice a year for like 14 years.


      • I used to get the digital version of WATCH, I subscribed through their website. One day I got an email from them asking if I wanted to continue with the digital or would I prefer the print… I chose to get it in print, really just anticipating the day when Alex would be on the cover… that was maybe 3 or 4 years ago. From what I understand WATCH is available at Barnes & Noble and Walgreens. Here’s their website link: http://www.cbs.com/shows/watch_magazine/
        Good luck.


    • Dq

      I am so happy that he is even considering beyond season 8. Some thoughts. Due to AOLs actuall injuries, and Steve and Danny’s recent liver issues, I think their action shots should be minimulized. I think they should have a re-boot of the re-boot. This show could be headed by a primarily female cast. Like the new Oceans Eleven or the new Ghostbusters. All female cast. Kono is quit the tough cookie. She could head up the new 5O. She could hire Catherine, Abbey and Lori Weston for the team. Steve, Danny and Chin need to just spend their days sitting at a picnic table all day sipping coconut water, wearing board shorts, no shirts of course, lots of skin (LOL) They would be security for Kamakonas shrimp truck. You know, so nobody tries to steal it again or whatever. The writers could even recycle all the old Crimes of the week but with a female spin on things. Ass kicking women crime stoppers and hairy chested security guards. Works for me.


      • Kathysr

        Watch out! Careful what you wish for! Peter may be lurking about. You’re giving him the idea to reboot “Charlie’s Angels” in Hawaii!


  2. Thank you for sharing


  3. Good to see him so happy! But do I want him to be with H50 beyond S8? Tho I’ll support him whatever he decides to do (That’s called love 😍)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. SanDee

    Free The Gecko! We want the nipple tattoos!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Terry

    Hudson news has it and also Target had it. Can’t wait to get mine


  6. Paula Wright

    I just dearly love Alex O’Loughlin. I am so thrilled the Stem Cell is working for him. I am also so thrilled he is coming back for season eight of Hawaii Five -O.
    It is my all time favorite show.
    Thank You Alex.


  7. gracenotpark

    I got mine today with Alex on the cover…I hope all the copies have him on the cover. Watch mag said awhile ago there were 3 different covers but I hope they were punkin’ us, and we all get Alex. We SHOULD all get Alex. As some of y’all said, we’ve been patient enough to deserve it! 7 years patient! 😆

    Liked by 1 person

    • BGattshall

      Nope, unfortunately got mine WITHOUT Alex on the cover. I am SO BUMMED!!! The article is great, but I am very disappointed not to get the cover wit Alex. Good luck guys!!


      • gracenotpark

        I’m so sorry! I’ve heard the mag is sold at a Target and Barnes&Noble. Maybe you could find an Alex cover at one of those. How utterly shitty of CBS to pimp his cover and the later confess he’s only on some covers…a bunch of “who the heck are they?” actors on the rest. 🙄

        Liked by 2 people

      • That is not good news. Not sure how expensive it is, but maybe you can try to buy one in a store if you want the one with a cover?
        I also saw that they said on twitter that people should send them a message if they do not get the right copy.


        • BGattshall

          Actually did that, but have not received a reply as of yet. Weekend maybe? We’ll see?!

          Liked by 1 person

          • Holding thumbs for you. It is a collecters item for fans. CBS WATCH clearly do not know how much Alex’s fans care.
            You can see the difference in RT’s and likes on all their posts of the different covers – Alex’s tweet far outnumber any of the other ones in responses.


  8. Kathysr

    Maybe three different poses of Alex? Hope so!


  9. Kathysr

    Seven years and they rotate his cover with other people? Yeeeeeesh!!! CBS, your head’s up your a**!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • lindae5o

      I agree !! After showing this cover with Alex for weeks, they pull this b.s. It’s the equivalent of the retail scam ‘bait and switch’.

      Liked by 3 people

  10. mamayorkie

    Great that he is feeling better and stem cell treatment worked. Last year PL started to drop hints that there was a season 8 renewal almost as soon as S7 started. I wonder if he will do the same this year. It made everything so much less stressful for us.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. lindae5o

    Thanks for your post, Foyeur. I live in Western Canada, and have a free subscription to Watch!. I haven’t received my copy yet. Any Canadians out there, who have theirs ?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. kathleen8265

    Today I was getting impatient, so when I passed Barnes & Noble on the way home, I popped in to see if I could score an Alex WATCH magazine. But they still had the previous issue on the shelf that I already have. 😦

    So imagine my reaction when I drove up to the house and there was my WATCH Magazine poking out of my mail box with ALEX on the cover! *SQUEEEEE!!!* I’m So Happy to finally get my mitts on this treasure. ♥

    I had no idea the extent of Alex’s injury’s. I’m pleased to hear that the Stem Cell treatments are doing wonders for him so much so that he’s hinting at maybe more then 8 seasons. 😉 As much as I’d love more H5-0, I’d love to see Alex challenge himself again with a new character. Be it in a movie or an off season TV mini series. Even something like a Hallmark TV Special. ♥

    I love that Alex is so content living in paradise with his beautiful family, but I’m greedy. I want more of Alex and his talent for telling believable stories.
    I just can’t get enough of him. Come September it’ll be 10 years since Alex walked onto my TV screen and started this wonderful “thrill ride that” I hope “never ends.” ♥

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Carol

    Thanks for sharing awesome 😀😆😎

    Liked by 1 person

  14. “My current favourite injury…” This is such an Alex thing to say!
    “Keep calm and have another cold one” <- I personally think that sums up not only Alex attitude to life but it's Steve through all seasons in a nutshell. 😉
    This whole interview shows what a funny, smart, intellectual, spiritual and last but not least grateful man he is. Some people should take a leaf out of his book. So it is this: "Alex is a legend in the making!" Wow, thanks FOYeur, great quote and so true!

    Thanks for the transcript and the great pics FOYeur and Paula. It is highly appreciated.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Magnólia

    Não me parece bom que Alex desempenhe Steve para além da temporada 8.
    Os escritores só dão ênfase às cenas de acção.
    Alex precisa de histórias bem inscritas, inspiradas.
    Obrigada, Foyeur e Paula! 🎸🎶

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Mr. Mike

    The list of health-related issues that O’Loughlin has suffered detailed in the Watch magazine article is very disturbing. Of course, people are excited about him saying that he may be able to do more than one more season. But not only could this be detrimental to his health, but you have to ask at what COST is this, financially speaking. I am sure O’Loughlin is very well paid, but with stem cell treatments that he mentions in the article costing $10,000 EACH you have to question whether it is worth it for him to keep ploughing his salary back into treatments to keep him functioning just for the benefit of fans, not to mention denying him a good future life with his family and the possibility of a career beyond Five-Zero.


    • Mr. Mike

      The cost of stem cell treatments mentioned above is based on something I found by doing a WWW search, by the way…


      • mamayorkie

        Are those treatments considered to be elective or experimental and not covered by insurance?


        • Mr. Mike

          I seriously doubt these are covered by any medical insurance. It might be possible to get these treatments if workers’ compensation or a company medical plan approved, but this would probably be through work where the person was drawing a salary and/or connected with a typical company/union medical plan as opposed to being under contract. On the other hand, it is quite possible that O’Loughlin got these treatments included as part of *his* contract.


          • kathysr

            I believe that CBS is paying for these treatments for Alex. These are clearly workmen’s comp injuries, which Alex could easily prove in a court of law. If they don’t want to have a huge lawsuit on their hands, they should be paying these bills. If you read the lawsuit being filed against EVERYONE connected to Hawaii Five-O, including Peter Lenkov, by Justin, the severely injured stuntman, it’s clear that the show is filmed in a very rushed, frenetic way which leaves large opportunities for serious injuries to actors and stunt people. Justin’s lawsuit gives Alex tremendous ammunition for his own lawsuit, since he’s been injured as well over the years.

            The CGI takes so much time to do, and they’re on such a tight schedule to produce 25 episodes (which is 2-3 more than a lot of other prime time shows film) that they have to rush the live action filming. Justin’s lawsuit infers that this is normal procedure for the show and that it’s been going on for years, Some of that rushing to film live action sequences could have contributed to Alex’ injuries.

            I believe that CBS is paying for all medical treatments for Alex’ injuries, to avoid a huge lawsuit down the road.

            Liked by 1 person

        • Kimphin1

          Stem cell therapy is NOT covered by insurance yet, but the results are very promising. No idea who is paying for the treatments, but it’s entirely possible that the production company is paying for it. Lots of athletes and celebs have used the therapy with wonderful results.


  17. Caterina

    I have not been able to have a copy, where can I download large format photos?


  18. TY for posting the interview.
    Some thoughts:
    – Alex really loves Hawaii and culture;
    – He is very grateful man for the life he has and what he achieved;
    – He understands his character more than anyone, but the writers don’t give him the stories and development to make Steve McGarrett an unforgetable TV character and give Alex the sucess and respect by the critics and cinematic industry;
    – Makes me sad, worry and angry reading about all his injuries. The producers should have care of all, specially the leading actor. PL can dare to think but the fans are sure there is no H50 without Alex.


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