Actor, writer, and musician Kila Packett, who most recently played bad guy prisoner Dave Lockhart in “Hawaii Five-0,” believes in “good karma.” After speaking to him and learning about his life and career, I think it’s also his positive spirit and generous nature that has given him such great fortune.
Packett was originally cast in season two’s “Ka Hakakā Maika‘i” as a valet-turned-thief who gave Chin and McGarrett the key to unlock the case against a dirty — and murderous — MMA fighter.
“I was on the Big Island, hiking with my dad, looking at petroglyphs, when I got the call that I booked ‘Five-0,’” he said. Packett had been on Hawaii island with his parents attending a family reunion in Kamuela. His manager had suggested that while attending the reunion, he take a short side trip to O‘ahu to audition for “Hawaii Five-0.”
Taking a break from family time paid off for Packett, and he stayed a few more weeks with an aunt in Wahiawā (my hometown, I know, we both said “small world”) to be able to complete the shooting for “Ka Hakakā Maika‘i.”
You may remember Packett’s character as the weirdly masked thief who Danno tackles and then unceremoniously reveals his identity. Packett said that even though he did his own stunts, the scratches on his face were done with make-up. He also remembered feeling “a little intimidated,” as the first day of shooting “Hawaii Five-0” was not only his “interrogation” scene, but it was also Packett’s first day on a television set.
Packett has an MFA in acting from Columbia University’s School of the Arts and has spent most of his career acting off Broadway and on New York theatre stages. He said that Daniel Dae Kim shook his hand and welcomed him to the show, and he and Scott Caan chatted about New York, all the while he was handcuffed to the interrogation chair. He did enjoy playing Lockhart and felt “good and comfy with my character, until it dawned on me that millions of people were going to see this!” He said it was surreal to think that this would be the biggest audience that had ever seen him act.
Packett said he did his own stunts with the stunt coordinator and Caan, and that the crew and the cast were really “tight.”
“(They were) all pros who are able to maintain their focus, but still be able to have a little fun,” he said. “They all seem like they are having the time of their lives.”
When he was asked back to “Five-0,” Packett was thrilled. His work in “ʻŌlelo Hoʻopaʻi Make” included several fight scenes and Packett would do his own stunts and work with Daniel Dae Kim again. Yet, instead of being the one handcuffed, so to speak, Packett would be the one controlling the situation.
In the episode, Lockhart and his buddy, Joao Caetano, played by fellow Hawai‘i actor Troy A. Ignacio, would recognize and jump Chin after he mysteriously woke up in Halawa Correctional Facility.
Ignacio, who suggested I talk with Packett after working side by side with him during the prison shoot, told me it was a proud moment when the fight coordinator complimented both of them, telling them “how well they were handling the stunts.” Ignacio had only the best things to say about Packett, and both actors seemed on screen and off to be brothers in arms.
Packett is no stranger to stunts, or fighting. He has directed Shakespeare workshops in acting, stage combat, fencing, and voice for Theatricum Botanicum and for the Los Angeles Drama Club/Shakespeare in the City. The Los Angeles Drama Club works to bring Shakespeare to under served communities in L.A.
Packett’s other experiences, like working with acclaimed theatrical legend Liv Ullman at the Brooklyn Academy of Music Harvey Theatre on “A Street Car Named Desire,” as well as playing some of the best Shakespearean roles like Petruchio in “Taming of the Shrew,” Orsino in “Twelfth Night,” and Orlando in “As You Like It.” His theatrical training is stellar and speaks to his ability to play different roles, have different looks, and also have the ability to play a bad guy rather well.
Packett, who was born in Nebraska to Ululani and Virgil Packett, grew up around the world, as his father served in the U.S. Army. He has always considered Hawaii a “big part of him,” as his mom is a “Big Island Girl” who attended Kamehameha Schools and met his father while attending the University of Nebraska.
Packett currently resides in Los Angeles, after making the decision last year to move from his theatre roots in New York to come west and work in television and film. He said when he returned to L.A. after shooting “ʻŌlelo Hoʻopaʻi Make,” he ran into Ian Anthony Dale, and when he told Dale that he had been back to to play Lockhart again, Dale said it was a testament to Packett’s abilities that he was brought back.
Redux Side Note:
Last night’s “Hawaii Five-0” was a rerun of the return of August March (Ed Asner) episode, “Kānalua.” Next week is a special treat for both the classic and reboot fans, as “Five-0” has updated a favorite episode from the original series.
“Hookman,” was the classic series’ season six, Emmy Award-winning premiere episode (original airdate: Sept. 11, 1973). The action centers on a double amputee out to avenge the loss of his hands by killing the police officers responsible, including McGarrett.
In the updated version, McGarrett’s father was one of the officers responsible for his maiming. Peter Weller (“RoboCop”) guest stars as the lead villain as well as directs this production. Jason Koger, a double upper amputee, will be stand in for Weller in close-ups of his prosthetic hands. In the original production, Jay J. Armes portrayed the lead villain and was a double amputee himself.
Dennis Chun, (Sgt. Duke Lukela) has been telling me for weeks what a terrific episode it will be, so don’t miss it.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher who lives and works in Honolulu. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.