Features ‘The River’ runs through him By Mike Gordon Feb. 5, 2012 Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! ABCIn this screen capture image from the trailer for ABC's "The River," Bruce Greenwood is a lost TV show explorer. "The River" premieres at 8 p.m. Tuesday. Read more Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser! You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription. Subscribe Now Read this story for free: Watch an ad or complete a survey Log In Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story. Activate Digital Account Print subscriber but without online access? Activate your Digital Account now. Don’t tell anyone, but the star of the scary new ABC series "The River" doesn’t like to be scared. But giving viewers a few nightmares? That’s just fine with Bruce Greenwood, whose character — missing wildlife expert/TV show host Emmet Cole — is the focus of the series that shot in Hawaii last fall and opens with a two-hour series premiere Tuesday (8 p.m., KITV). Cole is lost in a part of the Amazon where black magic, evil spirits and zombies rule the jungle. The search to rescue him falls to an ensemble cast that includes Leslie Hope ("24," "The Mentalist") and Joe Anderson ("The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1," "Across the Universe") as his wife and son, and Paul Blackthorne ("ER," "Lipstick Jungle") as the producer of a reality show filming the search. "We get to create the scares, and crafting them is a lot of fun but I am one of the few people who would be unable to watch the show," Greenwood said in a telephone interview from Vancouver, British Columbia. "I don’t like getting freaked out. I don’t get what people like about it, but people do like it. But making it is very different than watching it." Considering the creative talent behind "The River," there’s a good chance that viewers will be in for a hair-raising ride. The show’s executive producers include Steven Spielberg and Oren Peli, whose "Paranormal" film franchise has scared moviegoers for years. "The River" is supposed to be different from current horror. Last summer at Comic-Con — the comic book and popular arts convention in San Diego — Peli promised "The River" would scare with its stories and not with "gore, blood and torture porn." Greenwood said he was attracted to the show because he identified with his character’s sense of wanderlust. Before Cole vanished, the character hosted a popular TV show that featured his adventures, as well as his family, traveling all over the world. His motto: There’s magic out there. The 55-year-old Greenwood has spent a good deal of time getting "out there." Growing up in Canada, he enjoyed camping, canoeing and sailing with his family, and the actor has traveled extensively to such places as Brazil, the Himalayas, Yugoslavia, Africa and China. "I just loved the idea that this guy was out marching through the world, and moreover he is one of those people who wakes up happy in the morning," Greenwood said. "I have played so many guys in suits with nefarious agendas. And I really wanted to do something different." Greenwood has worked steadily as an actor, appearing in more than 100 TV shows and movies since the late 1970s. He got his big break in the hospital series "St. Elsewhere" but is probably best known for his portrayal of President Kennedy in the 2000 film "Thirteen Days" and roles in "I, Robot," "Dinner for Schmucks" and as Christopher Pike in the 2009 "Star Trek" prequel. In Cole the actor found a character whose obsession yields a dark discovery. "He’s a guy who is essentially sunny who has been offered this Faustian bargain to come into the darker places," Greenwood said. "He’s not really aware that he has struck the bargain until he is in too deep, which is how those kind of bargains work." Because "The River" is built on the premise that it’s a reality show, the cameras are everywhere, including in the hands of actors. That means imperfections are part of the unfolding realism, Greenwood said. "You are not pretending that you are not holding the camera," he said. "So I can look at the lens. I can make adjustments and swear and say I am filming my knee instead of my face." ABC shot the pilot in Puerto Rico but chose to film the seven-episode first season in Hawaii — the same formula the network applied to "Off the Map," a doctors-in-the-jungle series that used Hawaii as the stand-in for a small South American village. The series was canceled after one season. In Hawaii, "The River" shot primarily in and around the stream in Kahana Valley, which is one of the wettest places on Oahu. Nearly 300 inches of rain falls annually at the back of the valley. Greenwood called it "hideously uncomfortable," but the surroundings helped the cast get into character. "The heat and the humidity and the closeness of the air and the vegetation really provide this very three-dimensional air in the environment," he said. "As a performer you really feel it." Playing the part of an explorer meant crawling through muck, squatting in the brush in the rain — on a knee Greenwood blew out badly years ago skiing — and eating grubs. "But mind you, the grubs were made of marzipan," he said. There’s no telling whether mainstream network audiences are ready to be scared witless, although last fall on FX, "American Horror Story" generated rave reviews for the cable channel. Even though TV success is hard to predict, Greenwood said he’ll be surprised if viewers don’t respond positively to "The River." "We tried to make something different in the hopes that if we feel good about it, other people will, too," he said. "We did what we thought was interesting, and if it is too hard to watch, well, that’s too bad. We tried to hit it really hard." Previous Story Our readers share their family pictures Next Story Contractor mostly left old Manoa place 'just the way it was'