Get Ready for Hawaii Five-O
Preview: Producer Roberto Orci and cast member Grace Park talk about the new version of the iconic series.US, June 15, 2010
One of fall's most buzzed about new series, CBS's Hawaii Five-O stands out from other cop series thanks to its extremely geek-friendly participants. Two of the shows executive producers, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, are well known in fanboy circles, from their days working on Hercules and Xena to their time as Alias writers, to their recent credits - which include writing Transformers and Star Trek and co-creating Fringe with their frequent collaborator J.J. Abrams.
As for the cast, Alex O'Loughlin (Moonlight) takes on the lead role of Steve McGarrett (played by Jack Lord in the original), while his partner Danny Williams is played by Ocean's 11's Scott Caan. Rounding out the special police unit McGarrett leads are two characters played by well known actors to genre fans – Daniel Dae Kim (Lost) as Chin Ho Kelly and Grace Park (Battlestar Galactica) as Kona Kalakaua.
I recently spoke to both Roberto Orci and Grace Park about the project, and Orci noted that he and Kurtzman were initially reluctant about being involved with Hawaii Five-0, in the wake of Transformers and Star Trek, "because we thought, well, we don't want to be known as 'reboot guys.'"
However, Orci explained that executive producer Peter Lenkov (24, CSI: NY), who wrote the pilot, "Pitched us a great story… and such a great kind of paradigm for the show and how to really get into the characters that he really talked us into it. And then we thought, 'This could be really fun.'"
As far as the tone they're reaching for on the series, Orci said, "The sweet spot for us was always like Lethal Weapon or 48 Hours," noting that while that may sound easy , "Everyone always tries to do the action buddy [cop] thing with real stakes and it's actually deceptively hard. This is our opportunity to take a stab at that kind of a classic tone, where the violence is real, but you can still have a lot of fun with it. It doesn't have to be totally grim, you know?"
One more bit of geek-bait in Hawaii Five-0 is James Marsters, known to Buffy and Angel fans for his role as Spike. Marsters plays the bad guy in the pilot, and I asked Orci if it was a one-off role or whether he could return to face Steve McGarrett again. Orci replied, "The editing room will tell! We still have much to decide how it will end. Until it airs, it's just a work in progress."
Amusingly, just as on Battlestar Galactica, Grace Park finds herself playing a character from a 1970s TV series who was male in the original version. Explaining the new show's take on Kona, Park told me, "Kona's fresh out of the academy, and she has quite a few skills under her belt which would make her an asset to the team. She's right at the beginning of the formulation of this elite task force which is developing in Hawaii."
Park noted that while, "Hawaii is not necessarily a place with a lot of crime," international criminals, "might be attracted to Hawaii for several reasons, and so that's where we come in."
"I play cousins with Daniel," added Park. "His name has kind of been dragged through the mud, and he's been set up. So his character thinks that mine doesn't have a hope in Hell because of the family name."
Hawaii Five-O looks to really deliver on the action front, especially when it comes to what we expect to see on TV. Remarked Park, "I'd read the script, but then watching the pilot really blew me away. To me, it looks filmic. I recently saw another huge budget movie, and it just lacked that pop, and Hawaii Five-O delivered."
Kona gets a big introduction, as the guys show up on the beach to find her surfing. While this is a natural skill for Kona, Park revealed, "I'd never surfed before!" Park mentioned that her reply to those telling her she looks great in the surfing sequence is, "Well it's actually not me! That's another chick." Park smiled, adding, "She's got a great body, thankfully, because that's supposedly me!"
Park noted she does snowboard, but "it's been awhile since I've been riding mountains." With some time off until Hawaii Five-0 begins production, she added, "I'm planning to head over to Tofino on the west coast of Canada for a few days. Freshen up [on surfing] a little bit, because I've only ever gone twice."
Hawaii Five-O debuts this fall on CBS.