Taking you back to the early days of Hawaii Five-0. This time we have a combination of a written transcript that was posted at the time, and a short clip from footage of Alex answering one of the questions on the day. I really would have liked to see a longer version of the interview. If anybody still have some more footage of it, or know where we can find it, please let me know.
The Hawaii Five-0 panel was held earlier today at the Beverly Hilton hotel as part of the CBS TCA summer press tour. The following is the transcript (provided by CBS) of today’s panel featuring stars Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan and Executive Producers Alex Kurtzman and Peter Lenkov.
on 28 July 2010
(Original can be found in the link. We shortened it for this post)
QUESTION: Alex and Scott, when you’re taking roles that are this iconic, where do you guys start? Because obviously this is a major reboot of the characters’ histories, for a beginning. Do you go back and look at the old show? Do you just start from the script you’re given and just take it from square one?
SCOTT CAAN: I purposely didn’t go back and look at too much of the old show. I wanted to start fresh, and I didn’t want to have any old ideas. I just kind of wanted to start fresh. So no, I didn’t do any of that. I think Alex did a little bit more of that. He’ll tell you about it.
ALEX O’LOUGHLIN: Well, I remember the old show from when I was a kid. I mean, if you can remember, the old show was taken off TV 40 years ago. You know, it started over 50 years ago, and there’s been a lot of changes in television and in the way we act stylistically and with technology and with what we can do with the money that we have with special effects and stunts and all the rest of it. So it’s not a remake. We’re not kind of picking up where they left off.
It’s a reboot, and the characters are very different. My character, Steve McGarrett, is — in the old show, you didn’t know much about the character that Jack Lord played, whereas in the pilot on our new show, you learn a lot about my Steve McGarrett. And I didn’t look to that — I didn’t look to that for — to make decisions. I just did my character work based on the script that these guys wrote.
QUESTION: Alex, you’ve been through a couple rounds with CBS now. Would it be fair to say you feel more confident this time around?
ALEX O’LOUGHLIN: Yeah, I do. I — I don’t want to take anything away from the other shows I’ve done. I’ve worked with some incredible people and some wonderful showrunners and some — well, “Moonlight,” I don’t know if I ever met the showrunners. There were about 17 of them. But the other shows were great in their own ways. But the thing is there’s a reason things either work or don’t work in television. And I don’t know what the answer is. I just sort of keep blundering along to the next thing and hoping.
But this has — the team behind this, I mean, the two men here who are at the helm of this show, Peter and Alex, and the writing staff that we have, it just feels — everyone feels so capable. There’s also something — I don’t know. Like I saw the pilot. I read the pilot, I did the pilot, and I saw what they did with it. And there’s something special about it. So I mean, if this one doesn’t go, I’m completely bewildered. I have no idea how television works at all.
QUESTION: For Scott. Scott, maybe it was just me, but it seemed to me that, more than any other time I’ve seen you, this role reminded me of something your dad might have done. Were you conscious that this might be more reflective of some of his work in the past? Were you conscious of that?
SCOTT CAAN: I don’t think so. I mean, I think originally when they talked to me about doing this show, I didn’t know if I particularly wanted to get involved in doing TV. And I read it, and immediately it was like, “Yes, this is something I want to do.” And I think that I was able to do better work on this than I had done in the last ten years in movies.
And I think it’s just — you’re getting to see a little more of my personality, and a little more of what I can bring. And I guess that’s going to come from, you know, someone I come from. So I guess it’s just a coincidence.
QUESTION: In the original show, Danno, very much the sidekick, sort of off to the side. McGarrett gets to do everything. Here it seems like more of a buddy piece. Was that by design? Was that just you seeing what Scott was doing in the pilot? Can you talk a little bit about that?
ALEX O’LOUGHLIN: Who’s the question directed to? I’m sorry?
QUESTION: The producers.
ALEX KURTZMAN: Go ahead.
PETER LENKOV: Well, I think, for me — when I sort of like dove into this thing and talking to Alex [Kurtzman] about what made the original show so good and so memorable was the cases week to week. I think what we wanted to do was really go into these characters, but we felt that — we felt we needed McGarrett to play off somebody. And I think when we started to think about the Danno character, the Danno character really felt like it would be a good foil in some ways, a good — you get some good drama out of the relationship if you have someone who is a fish out of water.
So really by design originally, it was that these two guys would be front and center in the show, McGarrett clearly leading the unit and Danno being his right-hand man, but really being an equal in terms of his experience and what he brings to the table. So really, yes, by design it was built that way.
QUESTION: And “Lost” did a lot for Hawaii. People went there. The original “Hawaii Five-0” also brought a lot of tourism there. The cooperation that you’re getting from, be it, the Hawaii tourism or the film office, is that all dedicated to bring bodies to Hawaii?
ALEX KURTZMAN: I think that Hawaii has been wildly receptive to bringing the show back. I think that the original series is a real point of pride for them. It’s a badge of honor. And I think that was something that we felt we had to respect and we had to — we had to make sure that the legacy endured in the right way. You know, I’m sure they’re happy that it will bring tourism — more tourism to Hawaii, but the nice thing about it is that I think people want to go to Hawaii on vacation anyway. So it’s interesting to me; like, we were cutting the show, and one of the editors said, “God, just” — she got this look on her face, and I said, “What?” And she said, “I just feel like I’m on vacation when I watch this show.” And I thought, “That’s great.” That’s exactly what you want, because hopefully at the end of a long day, you’ll come home and you’ll want to watch “Hawaii Five-0” just to escape.
QUESTION: We’ve seen in recent years the rise of this type of television that we call blue-sky television, in cable especially with “Burn Notice” in Miami. And you talked a little bit about wanting people to feel like they’re on vacation when they watch this show, but the actual storylines and action seem pretty gritty and pretty intense. So are we going to see more of that lighthearted stuff come out in the show, or are you just hoping that the locale is going to communicate that?
ALEX KURTZMAN: A hundred percent yes, absolutely. The show is very lighthearted. A lot of it has to do with the banter between Danno and McGarrett. But the key for us is that the foundation had to be real. One of the first questions, I think, people ask is, “Why do this show now?” And the answer to that for us was that Peter walked in the door and said, “This is a show that is meaningful for me because it’s really about my relationship with my dad. My dad and I used to sit down” –By the way, I’m telling your story, if that’s okay.
PETER LENKOV: Sure.
ALEX KURTZMAN: But, you know, he said, “This is about my relationship with my father. We used to sit down every week, and we would watch this show. And it became sort of how we bonded.” And I think that in hearing the story, what struck us about it was that the spirit of “Five-0” is about a family. And for Peter to come in with a take that was so much about family felt like, “Okay, that’s a very good, honest, emotional reason to come into the show.” And it ended up, I think, leading to the storylines that we came up with for the pilot: a guy who had sort of been running away from his family for a long time, coming back home, and then having to rediscover that. And it felt like — you could make that about “Five-0,” or could you make it about something else. But that was a good story. That was just a good story. It certainly was a story that I would be engaged by. So the fact that we could put it in the context of “Five-0” was even better. And then it became about paying tribute to everything that the original “Five-0” was really about.
QUESTION: As a quick follow-up, Hawaii is also known for its ethnic diversity, but the panel isn’t particularly diverse. So are we going to see the actors of color who have been cast have prominent roles on the show?
ALEX KURTZMAN: Well, Chin and Kono certainly are and — absolute- — the answer is a hundred percent yes, we have –
PETER LENKOV: We’re actually probably casting half of, week to week, our guest stars out of Hawaii. It’s important to us for us to be real. It’s important for us to feel authentic. And right from the beginning, we — when we started shooting the first episode, we started going on weekends to these workshops, acting workshops, and making sure that we invest back into the community and get actors trained so we could utilize their talent and make it feel real. Our big thing is really for this show to feel like you’re really in Hawaii week to week, and that means casting locally.
QUESTION: You guys — I notice the word “reboot” being bandied about quite a bit, and Alex O’Loughlin mentioned it. Nina mentioned it. Why are you guys avoiding the word “remake”? I mean, remakes often don’t pick up from where the last one left off. They’re usually rethought and re- — is there something about the image of the show you want people not to have in their mind when they go to view this version?
ALEX KURTZMAN: I think, for me, the word “remake” suggests that we’re doing exactly the same thing, just doing it again. And I think in our experience in “Star Trek,” we felt like you have to find the spirit of what that original franchise was about, and you have to really be true to it, and then you have to expand on it and bring it into the modern time with whatever rules will govern it. And I think what we felt like we really had to do was make sure that we were staying true to the spirit of the show, but bringing something new to the table that a modern audience would recognize. And for us, that’s why the word “reboot,” I think, just feels more appropriate.
QUESTION: Alex, playing McGarrett, the old McGarrett was stoic unbending. It was either black or white, right or wrong. There are more colors in your — more gray areas. Tell me how you came up with that, or do you admire the stoic nature of the original McGarrett?
ALEX O’LOUGHLIN: I love Jack Lord’s McGarrett. I love Jack Lord’s hair. I love Jack Lord’s version. I think he started blue steel, the look that he does. [Laughter] He’s awesome. None of which I can get away with today in 2010 on television.
Look, Steve McGarrett, my Steve McGarrett is — our Steve McGarrett is a little different. Yeah, he’s stoic in a lot of ways, though. I mean, he’s a military guy. There are a lot of areas where he’s black and white, where he’s very clear. And, I mean, the differences between Danny and Steve are so apparent in every episode, and, you know, Steve goes in one direction and Danny freaks out and he’s like, “How can you possibly think that it’s okay to go in that direction?” And Steve is kind of bemused constantly by Danny’s reactions to this.
But as far as the character, I don’t know. I mean, it’s my job to — my job is character. That’s the only thing that I have any kind of control over. It’s the only thing I have any input into, really, I mean, at the end of the day. And so — and that’s what I’ve been trained in and that’s what I really enjoy doing.
So I guess I came to this and did the character work that I always do. And I found a lot of layers to this guy. And the other difference, like I mentioned before, is that you learn a lot about our Steve McGarrett in the new “Hawaii Five-0” in the very beginning, and so I had a lot to work with — stuff about his father, about his family, about his estrangement from them, about his military background, about the level of training that he’s done.
I mean, it takes a lot of dedication and a very big decision to — and a lot of perseverance to get — not only get to something like the Navy SEALs, but to actually get through and to be in the field with a team like that. So this guy, he’s a really interesting case study for me as an actor and as a sort of researcher of human movement.
But in answer to your question, the only reason I can continue bringing colors and levels to this guy is because of the writing that’s delivered to me on a week-to-week basis and that’s —
Link to video of this answer from Alex:
QUESTION: Well, briefly, is it a reflection of our times that nowadays we can accept a leading character who is not absolutely good or absolutely bad, that you can show a flawed human being?
ALEX O’LOUGHLIN: I think so. That’s always been — I refuse to show you anything else. And in some of the other work I’ve done, the other bits get cut out and they will show you one version of the performance that I’ve done, but I never deliver a performance on the day that is just one thing, because it’s inaccurate to all of us. None of us are just purely benevolent or malevolent. I mean, it’s not possible in human nature, unless you’re Gandhi or — and I’m sure he has —
PETER LENKOV: I think, also, what makes Steve McGarrett and I think what makes Danny Williams so interesting is that they are a little gray, and I think there is some flaws in that, in them. And I think that’s what makes them so watchable. They make mistakes and they’re human, and I think that — them being real comes across and I think that’s why you gravitate to these guys and I think that’s why it really clicked and it worked for us. And I think we’re fans of flawed heroes.
I think when you see somebody week to week just, you know, is always a winner and always gets his man, sometimes it gets a little boring. You sort of want to see something that feels very real and very true, and we strive for that and we strive for these characters to just really bring out the best in each other but really feel real to an audience that’s watching them.
ALEX O’LOUGHLIN: And that’s the other thing, if I might just elaborate on what you’re saying, Peter, is that the more flaw you bring to a character or the more balance you give your character with flaw, the closer that character moves towards everyman, you know. And if that character is an everyman, then we can all sit back and relate to them like we can’t relate to a superhero.
QUESTION: Question for the producers. I think — I can’t recall in the last few years. We’ve seen so many new crime shows coming out, whether it’s this or in a courtroom. Any particular — do you guys have any theories why the networks have a particular appetite for that genre right now?
ALEX KURTZMAN: I think the audience likes mysteries. They like puzzles. They like unraveling. They like following your heroes as they’re unraveling these mysteries. You know, crime and solving crimes — I just think it’s timeless in terms of its appeal. I don’t know. I mean, I’ve worked on a lot of crime procedural dramas, and they’ve always had huge audiences. And I think what I hear from people all the time is they love the mystery. They love solving a crime and solving it as they’re watching it with their leads.
BETH HAIKEN: Thank you very much. Just to explain, everybody, Grace and Daniel are in Hawaii, shooting so that’s why they couldn’t be with us today. And Alex Kurtzman and Peter Lenkov will be at the party tonight. Thank you.
- This was done during the first month of filming Hawaii Five-0. Of course they already filmed the Pilot episode in March, so by this time they only finished filming one more new episode – in other words, early days still.
- To me Alex looked very stern and pensive in most of the footage of the day – wonder if it was just nerves, or if he was a bit pissed off at something?
You can also see and read the other short video clip of that day here: Scott Caan & Alex O’Loughlin – CBS – July 2010