Gracious Hosts and the Actor

I know, I know. I flaked again last week. My mother-in-law got pneumonia, my son caught a cold, everyone was sick and I had to take care of them. This has been one of the worst years I can think of for all these viruses, I swear. I imagine after all that, it’s only a matter of time before I start feeling dodgy. (Which is already an excuse for not posting next week! Ha!)

Anyway.

I am an actor.

A couple weeks ago I got to go to Oahu to shoot an episode of Hawaii Five-O. I don’t usually gush about television stars I get to work with, truthfully because I don’t get to know them all that well and I imagine anyone who would care is already familiar with their work so what’s the point of me weighing in on that? But there is something I think is worth mentioning about Alex O’Loughlin, the guy who plays the lead copper on the show.

On screen, Alex is a ludicrously handsome and charmingly macho dude. (They make them that way in Australia, I guess.) He’s a fun leading man, to be sure. And I do like what he does. But this is not about that. You see, when you are a guest star on a television series, it can feel very lonely. You are walking into a place where all the series regulars, producers, and crew feel at home, and you are a stranger. They don’t know you, don’t know what you are like, and all they are really hoping is that you nail your performance so their jobs are easier.

It’s of course not their job to make you feel at home, and usually series regulars don’t. Usually, they are polite and shake your hand and then the cameras roll. Which is fine, and all that I really expect. But occasionally one of the show’s stars has a different demeanor. Sometimes, a guest star is treated as one of the team out of the gate. For me personally, this helps me relax on set and makes for a better performance. Alex is one such television star.

They play a bit fast and loose with the dialogue on Hawaii Five-O, which keeps the performances fresh and natural from what I can tell. But when you are a guest star, you have no idea if that’s the way they are going to play, so you memorize the hell out of your dialogue. I am good at adjusting to whatever a production’s style is, so no big deal, but Alex made sure I was okay with the beats in our first scene together and that I was hitting the moments I wanted to hit. He didn’t have to do that, but in doing so he made me feel not just respected, but more at home in such a foreign environment. In another scene, I had to do some very emotional work, which is one of the tougher gigs an actor can get. Procedurals work fast, and guest stars often handle very expository dialogue while at the height of mourning. After the scene was shot, Alex said to me that my work was a pleasure to watch. Again, something he didn’t have to do. But the compliment put me at ease, and made me want to do all the better on my next work day. Beyond that, he was always joking around and asking questions of me and everyone else around him. He’s the lead, the star, and in so many ways he sets the tone of how things are on set. He is a good actor, but more than that, a great host. That’s probably why he has remained a television star on so many series for so long.

Like I said, I thought this was worth mentioning. Also, make sure to watch my episode of Hawaii Five-O. It’s called “Ho’amoano.”

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