In the primetime sea of tortured drama, anti-heroes and grisly corpses, CBS’ reboot of “Hawaii Five-0” has been a victory for blue-sky, popcorn TV.
One of the elements that has made the series so much fun is its guest casting. Producers have been adept at piquing the interest of TV junkies by recruiting thesps with strong fan followings from other shows.
Masi Oka of “Heroes” has a recurring role as a wacky but brilliant scientist who helps the Five-0 team crack their cases. Reiko Aylesworth, a “24” alum, will be seen in tonight’s episode as the former flame of Daniel Dae Kim’s Chin Ho character. (The casting of Kim in “Five-0” fresh off of his “Lost” run was another sharp move.)
Among other upcoming guest players, Dane Cook is set for to play the brother of Scott Caan’s Danny Williams’ character.
“We’ve been lucky that a lot of people want to do the show. Getting Masi was dream casting for us,” says Peter Lenkov, who exec produces of “Five-0” along with Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci.
“Five-0” typically has roles for four to five guest actors per seg, plus they use as many as 50-100 extras, Lenkov says.
The presence of so many Aloha state native sons and daughters gives the show an authentic flavor. And it’s been a boon to local thesps, as “Five-0” has far more opportunities to tap into the local talent pool than were allowed by the confines of “Lost’s” narrative. The show’s Hawaiian casting team, headed by Jen Cooper, recently held a mass open call to help producers build a database of types they might need for extras and bit parts.
Fans of the original series got a kick out of seeing thesp Al Harrington, who played a detective on “Five-0” in the early ’70s, return to the show earlier this month in the role of an old family friend of Alex O’Loughlin’s Steve McGarrett. The same episode teased the return of the malevolent Wo Fat, the villain who bedeviled Jack Lord’s McGarrett to the end.
“We wanted to introduce (Wo Fat) very slyly, just for the fans,” Lenkov says, who assures that character will “be a fly in the ointment” for the new-model McGarrett, too.