In complete honesty, even reading about Grace Park’s experience shooting last season’s finale, had me holding my breath. But like Kono, Grace is a trooper and trusted herself and the crew of Hawaii Five-0 to keep her safe. Ms. Park also talks about how she’s happy to have more girl power on the testosterone-heavy set this year.
It’s an understatement to say Kono (Grace Park) went through a lot on Hawaii Five-0recently, as the Season 2 cliffhanger had her at death’s door – pushed into the ocean, bound and gagged, and sinking to her doom. Fortunately, she was saved by Adam (Ian Anthony Dale) in the Season 3 premiere, though not everyone was so lucky in that episode.
During my recent visit to the set of Hawaii Five-0, I spoke to Park about what the experience of being thrown in that scary, underwater situation was like – both for Kono and for the actress playing her. We also discussed Kono and Adam’s turbulent relationship and the addition of more women to Hawaii Five-0 this season.
Grace Park in Hawaii Five-0
IGN TV: Suffice to say, Kono just went through a traumatic experience. How does she come out of it?
Grace Park: That’s what’s really interesting, because when a situation like that comes about, you think, “How does this impact the character?” It is part of the job, but that doesn’t mean she’s Teflon and unflinching. At the same time, I think the bigger thing is Chin Ho losing his wife. That seems like it overshadows my situation, where I managed to live. If anything, it’s probably going to be one of those incidents that contribute to Kono’s overall character as a cop and her experience being a police officer. It’s those layers and layers of experiences that kind of embed themselves into someone’s psyche that eventually, 20 years down the line when you meet someone, they have the essence of cop.
IGN: What was it like shooting those sequences where she’s underwater? I’d assume that wasn’t very fun…
Park: Kono’s a surfer, so she’s great in the water – she’s grown up in the water. If you’re surfing some big waves, you will have been caught underneath, sometimes for a few sets, right? So what I’ve learned — and I don’t even surf – is that the longer you can stay underwater, the more comfortable you are. Talking to some of the water men, like Brian Keaulana, he’ll tell you one of the first things you can do is learn to stay underwater for a long time. That way, you won’t panic when you’re underwater and the waves are coming and you are not going to get up there. I thought, “I can’t do that for very long.” But prepping for the underwater scene… I mean, I was so uncomfortable every time I read the script, because I would hold my breath as I was reading the script! I was so uncomfortable because I didn’t realize I’d stopped breathing, as I’m reading my character and she’s bound and gagged in the water.
IGN: Would that qualify as the toughest thing you’ve had to do on the show?
Park: Funnily enough, I was more comfortable doing that, the idea of being bound and gagged underwater, versus having to be in a shore break again.
[Editor’s Note: During the filming of the Hawaii Five-0 pilot, Park learned firsthand just how much ocean water can pummel you in a shore break - where a wave breaks directly on, or very close to, the shore]
[Hawaii Five-0 showrunner/executive producer] Peter Lenkov asked, “Grace, how are you with this whole underwater thing?” I’m like, “Am I in a shore break?” He’s goes, “No.” I’m like, “You sure I’m not in a shore break?” “No you’re bound and gagged, and you’re sinking on the bottom of the ocean.” I’m like, “But I’m not in a shore break?” “No.” “That’s fine, that’s totally fine.” “You’re sure?” “Yes!” It was just so traumatizing in the pilot! [Laughs] Other than that, I was researching and prepping on that. I started learning how to hold my breath underwater and the breathing technique that you do to be able to be underwater for minutes at a time. I got up to, like, a minute, but I wasn’t practicing for that long. But that was more than we needed. The thing I was thinking was, “Well, of course she’s going to know how to do this.” So when you do go underwater — and she knowsshe’s going to be tipped overboard — when she goes under, you don’t sink to the bottom of the ocean. We had to try to get me to sink. They put lots of weights on me and we had to have someone underwater dragging me down and all this kind of stuff.
Alex O’Loughlin, Scott Caan, Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park
Park: Right? Actually the trauma could have been during one take where I wasn’t ready, but I didn’t just say no. They’re like, “Are you ready?” I’m like, “Well, actually…” [Splash noise] They pulled me under, and I was kicking so hard to try to get out. I was supposed to have breakaway wrists and breakaway ankles, but they didn’t break away. So when I came back up, they were like, “That was really, really great, except we didn’t have your face on camera.” And I was just like, “I was trying to get out of the restraints!” But the weirdest thing was, I was kicking super hard underwater, and I didn’t have enough breath to stay under very long, but I was, like, zero panic. It was really weird because I had practiced already, so my body already knew, “Oh, you’re fine.” So that was really trippy, even though I had a lot of water and was coughing. So that’s the kind of stuff I knew about her character. She was already thinking when she was on the boat, and when I did the research diving with Ocean Ramsey, I kind of caught her out of the corner of my eye, and she wasn’t using her arms and legs to kick. She just did this kind of dolphin gliding thing in the water. So I tried it, too. I was like, “Oh my gosh!” You can move really fast doing that. It seems kind of like how fish move because fish don’t have arms — their fins are kind of small — but they move so fast. I figured that’s what she’s doing. Of course, it’s not on the screen because that’s not going to sell very well, but I figured that’s probably why she’s not as traumatized. There’s also always so much action, she kind of just rolls back into it.IGN: Wow, that has to add to the trauma!
IGN: I was initially going to ask you, “Is Kono’s relationship with Adam going to continue this season?”, but the premiere answered that question in a big way. Those two began as almost a Romeo & Juliet thing, with her a cop and him as the son of a mobster. Is it going to be a little smoother now?
Park: I think that relationship — just with the setup, like you said — the setup is such that it’s never going to be easy or smooth. I think that their relationship is good. There’s a real attraction… They actually like each other. There’s a lot of possibility and potential there, but with the situation, you know… How clean is he? How good is he going to be at managing his father’s alliances and the rest of the business, because they’re not all gonna want to switch their ways? They have a good life, and they have it working pretty smoothly. So things could always change. I think as it unravels, we’ll see how it goes. Peter [Lenkov] has a few things up his sleeve, which I’m really excited about. I mean, it’s fine that it’s smooth, but they’re certainly not the type to just stay at home and watch movies and just eat pizza.
Ian Anthony Dale and Grace Park in Hawaii Five-0
IGN: That’d be an interesting episode though.
Park: [Laughs] For sure! People would be like, “What’s going on with that relationship? Shouldn’t they have guns and be kicking people?” [Laughs]
IGN: They’re watching Real Housewives or something.
Park: Yeah! [Laughs] I’m making a phone call. “Oh… be right there!”
IGN: Yeah. “Gotta do some cop stuff.” “Gotta do some mob stuff.”
Park: Yeah, that would be hilarious, actually. I did tell the other actor, Ian [Anthony Dale], “Yeah, Peter wants us to reflect on the nature of real relationships, and so he wants you to gain 25 pounds. He says I’m fine.”
Grace Park, Daniel Dae Kim and Scott Caan in Hawaii Five-0
Park: And Taryn [Manning] is coming back! Yeah, the thing is, it’s such a male-dominated show, on screen and on set as well. So it’s not a show where the women really bond with each other. I even think that has something to do with Lauren German’s character, Lori Weston, leaving, because they didn’t establish the females with each other. Not that we didn’t want it. I even asked for it right off the top. And by the end, we were having this great rapport, and I think they’ve learned now how important that is. To be able to have more of a female presence adds a duality and a complexity. That doesn’t mean we need to have them equal number, but that always changes things up. That’s why I think they didn’t keep Kono a dude. That’s why we didn’t just have five dudes. That would be a totally different show. Then we would have The Hangover… But I haven’t seen The Hangover, so I don’t even know if that’s accurate. [Laughs]
IGN: [Laughs] You’ve been the constant female presence on this show, but this season you’ve got Christine Lahti recurring and now Michelle Borth as a regular.
I think it’s just going to keep allowing every character like McGarrett or Danny to show other facets of their personality and their characters. People want to know more about the story, but they also want to know more about the characters they’ve been following for <years.