One of the greatest pleasures I have being a local girl from a small town in the middle of a small island is getting to watch a very big television show being filmed virtually in my own back yard — and not only getting to write about it, but also being able to see a familiar face fill my television screen every Monday night.
And when I see a face I recognize, I try to get them to talk to me about their experience, since I can’t seem to get Alex or Scott to call me back.
(Still waiting, fellas! Promise I’ll hit you back.)
So when “Ka Me‘e,” meaning “The Hero,” aired in October, I was fascinated by the character of Joao Caegano, a Mexican drug dealer who protected a hidden dope grow played by Troy Ignacio. He looked local, he sounded local, and I knew I had seen him before.
Once I Googled him, I found that he had acted several local shorts, most recently James Sereno’s “Paradise Broken” (for this year’s Hawaii International Film Festival) and “Sunday Wind” with Ray Bumatai. He had bit parts in the short-lived cop drama, “Hawai‘i,” as well as television series “North Shore” and the film “Beyond Paradise.” But I knew I had seen him somewhere else —and then remembered a series of popular commercials from Oceanic Cable.
Ignacio, and fellow actress Janice Morimoto, were Matt and Cara in a series of 30-second spots that followed them from their first date all the way to their honeymoon. Many Hawaii residents should recall seeing these commercials. Matt was the hero of Cara’s heart, and while definitely not the same kind of character as Joao Caegano, his face is one and the same.
When I got in touch with Ignacio, I really didn’t know what to expect. Would he be gruff and surly like Joao, or would he be the funny guy from TV? He is definitely both. I can see why many of the roles he played were tough guys, his role on “Hawaii Five-0” being no exception. I loved how he looked very believable as a guy who could set up booby traps and drive recklessly through the mountains, determined to find whoever was trying to cut into his profits.
Ignacio told me the short few minutes he was on camera were the result of being on set a total of three days; mainly because of the stunt he had to do, which included driving a jeep with a “messy clutch” and getting hit by McGarrett two times — once with a log and then with McG’s fist.
The other two days were for the scene with the surveillance film, where Joao sees McG, Chin Ho, and Joe White pulling up his marijuana plants, and for the interrogation scene.
Ignacio said that working with Alex O’Loughlin and Daniel Dae Kim was really great, and everyone was very professional and all business.
“It was stressful for me because I wanted to impress everyone and do well, and with the stunts, that was a little difficult,” he said. But working with director Jeff Hunt, who was “very encouraging,” as well as the entire stunt crew helped him relax and get into his role.
I asked Ignacio about his “famous” line (“Some haole. They all look alike.”), between him and Five-0’s Chin Ho and McG in the interrogation scene. He said it was a scripted line, and when he rehearsed with Jeff Hunt he just gradually added the pidgin inflection and tone to his line reading. When no one corrected him, he just took it to what you all saw on the show.
Ignacio did share that Daniel Dae Kim thought it was “super cool” he was a local boy, since most of the cast and crew assumed he had come in from Los Angeles. He said being complimented by Alex O’Loughlin and Daniel Dae Kim after the interrogation scene was the high point of his three days.
“Daniel Dae Kim took me aside and shook my hand, and said he was really impressed,” Ignacio said. “I hoped I proved that even local talent can be as good as L.A. talent.”
So this time around, Ignacio didn’t get to play the hero, as that was definitely McG’s role in this episode, but I was pretty impressed by the work he did. I’m sure I sound pretty redundant when I say I’d love to see him again, perhaps taking advantage of his comedic chops next time around.
And like the other Hawaii-based talent that have been featured as extras or even had small speaking parts on “Hawaii Five-0,” you can be sure they will be as good as professionals from any side of the island, small town, or even from the big big island across the Pacific. For now, I’ll hold out for my local boys to continue to get their faces, and show their talents, on the “Five-0” screen.
Redux Side Note:
I wrote about the episode Troy Ignacio was featured in, “Ka Me‘e,” in “Heroes on our team.” You can follow Troy on Facebook.
Also, mahalo to my friend Gaby, who helped me with the images of Troy from “Ka Me‘e.” You can follow her on Twitter.
Wendie Burbridge is a published writer, playwright and a teacher of literature and fiction writing at Kamehameha Schools-Kapālama. Reach her on Facebook and on Twitter.