Talking to Hawaii actor Will Oak Wild is like talking to a determined whirling dervish — he’s wild to a point, a bit of a daredevil and hungry for more knowledge, culture and experience, but strong in his sense of self and purpose. He is not one to wait for things to happen, but moved to make the world what he wants it to be, both for himself and others.
I had the privilege of speaking to Wild a week after “Ka ʻoiaʻiʻo maloko” (“The Truth Within”) aired on CBS. Wild played British mastermind Ellis Gregory, who stole the Kamehameha statue from Kapaʻau and unravelled the mystery behind the Medici Keys.
Fans loved the episode because of its infusion of Hawaiian culture into the typical procedural and the featured special guest star, Jorge Garcia. While Wild’s two scenes basically showed his capture and arrest, the action and intensity of his demise was memorable. Wild’s scenes featured him in a gunfight with McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and Danno (Scott Caan) in the Honolulu Museum of Art, which lead him to steal his getaway vehicle from the “History of Motorcycles” exhibit and ended with him wiping out before Sgt. Duke Lukela (Dennis Chun) and a slew of HPD officers.
Before he’s hauled away by our heroes McG and Danno, we get to see a little bit of the bravado and cocky self-assuredness of his character. The look on Wild’s face basically says, “I’ll be back. Don’t you worry, McG.”
All in all, some strong acting from Wild. While brief, his scenes were a testament to his acting ability and athleticism. He wasn’t a villain I could instantly forget; perhaps it was the fact that he said very little and let his face and actions tell most of his story.
When asked about his scenes, he was very candid about his experience. He was pleased I had picked up on so much about his character, who he saw as “someone cold and ruthless, but a real person who has been led astray.” In his one line with a little girl in the museum (Aya Laprete), we talked a lot about how he seemed to be so gentle with her, yet it was obvious he was not someone to cross.
“Ellis sees the innocence of a child, and doesn’t want to see her hurt,” said Wild. “But he has business to do, so she can’t be standing in his way.”
I told him I thought that made him more scary than if he had just said, “Scram, kid.” The fact he was kind to her made him all the more menacing. Sort of what you’d want in a villian, I suppose.
Wild spoke a lot about his acting training and work before “Five-0.” He was raised in Southern California and majored in art at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His father lives on Hawaii island and Wild traveled back and forth between Hawaii and California to spend time with his dad and surf. An avid outdoorsman who is “at home in the mountains as well as in the ocean,” he is an experienced skier, snowboarder, and ski racer as well as surfer. He has strong family support and tries to have “harmonious, healthy, and positive relationships” in his life.
Wild is definitely not a cold, ruthless conspirator like his character on the show. He is grateful for every experience that has made him the man he is today.
“I have to say thank you to (recurring cast member) Dennis Chun. He gave me so much support and direction,” said Wild. Both Chun and Wild worked and trained under Scott Rogers, who Wild said taught him a lot about auditioning, while Chun helped him on set.
“Dennis said being on the ‘Hawaii Five-0’ set is yet another place to train,” said Wild. “He really helped me and even coached me at little before my scene.”
Wild had already spent some time on set as a stand-in and said it was a great experience to meet everyone and learn the set dynamic before he got the part of Ellis Gregory.
“Getting to be a stand-in before I played Ellis helped me to just focus on the acting with no distractions, because I already understood how it worked on set,” he said.
He also had a chance to work with stunt coordinator Jeff Cadiente, who is “so great (and) gets to live a boy’s dream blowing stuff up, fighting, riding motorcycles.”
Under Cadiente’s guidance, Wild was allowed to ride a motorcycle down a hall in the Honolulu Museum of Art, but a professional biker went through two bikes to finish the stunt.
“I like the crew, they are such a cohesive team, a real tight family,” said Wild.
When I asked what it was like to work with Alex (O’Loughlin) and Scott (Caan), Wild said they both were “professional and very real.”
“Alex introduced himself to me and shook my hand,” he said. “He was very cool. He’s very interactive with everyone on set. He’s completely a hands-on actor. He suggested ways to better the scene, especially the fight scene. He’d be a great director one day.”
Wild said it was very interesting watching O’Loughlin “gear up and get into the zone.”
“He went full-on into the fight scene. It really felt like a real fight,” said Wild.
While he had more interaction with O’Loughlin, Wild said Caan is just “one of the boys” as they share similar Southern California and surfing roots.
Since his time on “Hawaii Five-0,” Wild has been very busy going to various commercial and short film auditions and working on several new projects. He’s currently working on a short film, “The Drop,” playing a rookie police officer. He also starred in a short film directed by fellow “Hawaii Five-0” actor Kainalu Hecomovich. Hecomovich played the “local tweaker” who tried to carjack McGarrett in “Kahu.”
Wild was recently booked for a Canadian television commercial for TB Bank and was just cast as Steve Malone on feature length thriller “Forget Him” by Michael McClafferty.
“I’m grateful to have been on an episode,” said Wild. “Hats off to the writers. When I got the script, it was a page turner.”
Redux Side Note:
On Nov. 23, “Hawaii Five-0” fans planned an impromptu party for actor William Sadler, who plays McG’s father John McGarrett. Sadler, who most recently guest starred in the NBC series “The Blacklist” and Showtime’s “Homeland,” was here to film more episodes of “Five-0.” Seeing pictures of Sadler with fans, it looked like he had a great time.
Fellow actor Dennis Chun also attended the event at Big City Diner Pearlridge, where fans had a chance to take photos and chat with the actors. The only thing Sadler did not share with the fans was information about the scenes he filmed while on Oʻahu this time around, but I know fans are all looking forward to seeing more episodes featuring “Poppa McG” in the future.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.