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If you’re worried that Hawaii Five-O is just another remake of an old show, don’t worry. It’s from the writers of the new Star Trek, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. The pair took that series in successful new directions, and now they’re launching a new show based on the island crime classic.

Scott Caan as Danny Williams

Hawaii Five-O is still the story of two island cops, Steve McGarrett and Danny “Danno” Williams. Now it’s Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan in those roles. O’Loughlin’s McGarrett seems to come from the Jack Bauer school of crime fighters. He’ll push the limits and he has some mystery in his past, while Williams is more by the book.

“My job is character,” O’Loughlin said. “I found a lot of layers to this guy.  The other difference is that you learn a lot about our Steve McGarrett in the new Hawaii Five-0 in the very beginning, 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 lot of perseverance not only to 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. 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.”

By comparison, Williams seems like the straight man but that’s not so simple either. “I don't think it’s so much ‘by the book,’” Caan said. “I mean, I’m a New Jersey cop but I think he’s just really out there, so there’s a right way to do things and then there’s his way.”

Alex O’Loughlin as Steve McGarrett

Like any partners, McGarrett and Williams will clash with each other as much as they do with criminals. “The differences between Danny and Steve are apparent in every episode,” O’Loughlin said. “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.”

They’ll ultimately become friends but that will be the fun of watching them solve cases together each week. “I feel like it has to go that way unless one of us gets fired,” Caan said. “If you’re working with someone every single day on the show as cops, as partners, we’re going to be together. The writers, they’re obviously going to have to put us closer together than we were in the beginning or it’s bad writing. We might hate each other even worse, I don't know.”

Hawaii Five-O is the third CBS series for O’Loughlin. The vampire thriller Moonlight and medical drama Three Rivers both got cancelled after one year. With that experience, O’Loughlin is confident Five-O will be a TV classic again.

“I don't want to take anything away from the other shows I've done,” O’Loughlin said. “I've worked with some incredible people and some wonderful showrunners. 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. I don't know what the answer is. I just sort of keep blundering along to the next thing and hoping. But the team behind this, everyone feels so capable. I read the pilot, I did the pilot, and I saw what they did with it and there's something special about it. So if this one doesn't go, I'm completely bewildered. I have no idea how television works at all.”

Caan comes from an acting dynasty. He is the son of James Caan, legendary actor from The Godfather to Thief to Elf. Some viewers notice the resemblance but he’s certainly not trying to turn Danny Williams into James Caan.

Hawaii Five-0 Cast

“You're getting to see a little more of my personality, and a little more of what I can bring,” Caan said. “I guess that's going to come from someone I come from. So I guess it's just a coincidence. I certainly don't want to deliver anything like he’s delivered anything, but I think it's just going to come out.”

Bringing more personality to the characters is one way this Hawaii Five-O will be more than just mysteries solved on the beautiful island of Oahu. Caan and O’Loughlin love Jack Lord and James MacArthur and pay them great respect, but in 2010 their job is to create flawed individuals.

“I never deliver a performance that is just one thing, because it's inaccurate to all of us,” O’Loughlin said. “None of us are just purely benevolent or malevolent. I mean, it's not possible in human nature, unless you're Ghandi, and I'm sure he has [something].

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. If that character is an everyman, then we can all sit back and relate to him like we can’t relate to a superhero.”

These layers convinced Caan to star in a TV series that could likely run for many years. He’s guest starred on Entourage but has found most work in films like the Oceans series, Into the Blue and Varsity Blues.

“Originally when they talked to me about doing this show, I didn’t know if I particularly wanted to get involved in doing TV,” Caan said. “I read it, and immediately it was like, ‘Yes, this is something I want to do.’ I think that I was able to do better work on this than I had done in the last ten years in movies.” 

And if you liked the original Hawaii Five-O, it must be nice to see another McGarrett and Williams busting perps on the beach. “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,” O’Loughlin said. “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.” / Issue 115 - September 2018
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