Well, it’s been a week and a half since HIFF, and it’s taken me this long to decipher my notes and compare notes with bloggers Wendie Joy and Amy Bakari. 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, twits 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.
Stay tuned for Part 3!