If the pass/fail question on Hawaii viewers’ mind was whether the new "Hawaii Five-0" would hire local actors for more than "Kimo the waiter" parts, that question was answered with a big "whoo hoo!" when Jonathan Clarke Sypert blasted onto the screen, dreadlocks flying.
Other Hawaii actors, including Laie’s Taylor Wily and kumu hula Blaine Kia (as well as dozens of HPD officers) also appeared in the "Five-0" pilot. Sypert had pages of lines, camouflage pants and a huge gun. He got to shoot at the lead actors, took a woman hostage and then died by a bullet to the back of his head. At the Sunset on the Beach premiere party, he walked the red carpet. "It was kind of tantaran but it was fun," he said.
People who know Sypert from his roles in local theater, slam poetry performances and years as a dance teacher might not recognize him as the bad guy, Frank Doran. "They made the dreadlocks and sewed them in to my ‘fro," he said.
The nose ring is a clip-on. But the biggest difference is the attitude. Sypert, 33, is a smiling, encouraging dance teacher who makes even the most reticent students feel like they can fly. In fact, he missed watching himself on TV Monday night because he was teaching a class at the Movement Center in Kaimuki. "I didn’t want to cancel on my students," he said.
Sypert, who graduated from UH Lab School and attended UH-Manoa, is the son of dance teacher and former Broadway dancer Shirley Sypert. He also worked as an extra on "Lost" for six months.
He and Meagan Hensley, who played his girlfriend in the scene, knew each other from dance productions in Waikiki.
His scene was shot over two days in a village of Quonset huts in Wahiawa. "That’s all real. People live there," Sypert said. "I said to one guy, ‘It’s kind of inconvenient to have us all here, yeah?’ and he goes, ‘Don’t worry. They took care of us. They can inconvenience us all they want.’"
In the scene, Sypert’s character falls out of a window onto a heap of trash. Sypert, an acrobatic dancer, wanted to do his own stunts, but the producers brought in stuntman Victor Lopez from Los Angeles. "When we got on the set and I actually looked out the window, I told him, ‘I’m so glad you’re here!’"
His character got killed in the pilot, so Sypert isn’t counting on being called back to work on the show. But he is a chameleonlike performer, and he had such a positive experience working on the show that he’d be delighted if he got called again.
"It’s TV and you never know."