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Alex O"Loughin Interview: Hawaii 5-0

Alex O'Loughlin recently met with TV reporters to talk about his third CBS series, this fall's reboot of Hawaii 5-0 which has all the earmarks of being the kind of ratings sensation that his other shows weren't.
QUESTION: Alex when you're taking a role that is this iconic, where do you 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?

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, 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 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 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 -- 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 the team behind this 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 I mean, if this one doesn't go, I'm completely bewildered. I have no idea how television works at all.

QUESTION: Alex, 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, 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 -- 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. 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 and a lot of perseverance to 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.

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. 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 Ghandi. And that's the other thing: 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. 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.

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