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Five-0 Redux

Hecomovich lives the dream

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When I first saw Hawaii actor Kainalu Hecomovich, I swore I was looking at a flashback image of Duke Kahanamoku.

Kainalu Hecomovich poses next to a picture of Hawaiian surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku. (Courtesy Kainalu Hecomovich)
Kainalu Hecomovich poses next to a picture of Hawaiian surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku. (Courtesy Kainalu Hecomovich)

He is, quite literally, the perfect visual image of a young Hawaiian male, with dark brown eyes set in handsome features and a square jaw with a determined and driven look. Yet, the character Hecomovich played in season three of “Hawaii Five-0” was not necessarily the type of person Hawaiians would want associated with them, or the great Duke himself.

So when I had a chance to hear Hecomovich’s story, I was happy to know the “Local Tweaker” from “Kahu” (“Guardian”) doesn’t even come close to what this young actor and director is actually like.

“Crazy good,” was executive producer Peter Lenkov’s reaction to Hecomovich’s audition, according to casting director Rachel Sutton. After auditioning several times, Hecomovich was ready to show off his two decades of television, film, and commercial acting experience.

Hecomovich, who graduated from Punahou School, gave me quite a bit of behind the scenes insight to not only his preparation for filming, but how he worked with actors Alex O’Loughlin, Michelle Borth and Dennis Chun.

In “Kahu,” Hecomovich was in two scenes — one where he carjacks McGarrett (O’Loughlin) and Catherine (Borth) as they eat plate lunches in the parking lot of Rainbow Drive-In, and in a shorter scene when McG brings him into HPD headquarters and hands him off to a laughing Sgt. Duke Lukela (Chun).

“After rehearsing the carjacking scene, Alex could see I was torn between two choices: being a ‘crazy tweaker,’ or being a ‘really crazy tweaker,’” said Hecomovich. “He took me aside and said, ‘Hey, look — our job is to be as truthful as possible under these imaginary circumstances.’

“For me, that really hit home. Then Alex said, ‘After today, you’re gonna be an Oscar award-winning actor.’ It made me smile and took a lot of the pressure off.”

Hawaii actor, Kainalu Hecomovich, as the "Tweaker" in "Kahu" (Guardian). (Courtesy CBS)
Hawaii actor Kainalu Hecomovich in action on “Hawaii Five-0.” (Courtesy CBS)

After talking with O’Loughlin, they had a quick break before it was showtime. In order for Hecomovich to get into character, he went to listen to music and warm up his body.

“I had my prop gun in my waistband, and I began to dance slightly off-set,” said Hecomovich. “I was moving to the music, getting into character. While I was preparing, the owner of Rainbow’s told production staff to call the cops because there was a crackhead on set!

“They looked over at me, with my headphones on, dancing, blocking it all out, and laughed. They said ‘No, that’s an actor!’ The owner said I was pretty good! He came up after the scene and asked for a picture.”

A consummate performer, Hecomovich would take different approaches to his acting while shooting the scene.

“I would ask myself questions before takes, ‘How bad do you want this? Then go get it.’ For one take, I did a 180 and experimented with vulnerability,” he said. “What if this guy needed the car to take his mother to the hospital? That made me cry, and the entire take I was in tears.

“Of all the takes, they used that one as my reaction shot — you can see in the scene that I am actually in tears.”

 Alex OʻLoughlin uses Kainalu Hecomovich to enhance a scene. (Courtesy CBS)
Alex OʻLoughlin uses Kainalu Hecomovich to enhance a scene. (Courtesy CBS)

IN THE arrest scene, Hecomovich mentioned another “moment of magic and improv.” Before each take, he would shadowbox and even punch himself to get emotionally into the moment.

“Alex was watching my preparation and said, ‘Sometimes Scott and I will slap each other in the face before takes,’” said Hecomovich. “During the next take, Alex was charged up and accidentally pushed me into (a) locked glass door. After the take, he said, ‘Sorry, bro, you ok?’

“When I told him that I was fine, he said, ‘Good. I’ll hit you harder in the next take.’ After a moment he said, ‘Wait, that gives me an idea. This is gonna be funny.’

“So in the next take, the sound you hear in the scene is my face really smashing into the glass door. My neck hurt for a week afterward, but it was so worth it. Alex is a true leading man in every sense of the word. He leads by example, manages a daunting, physically action-packed shooting schedule with aplomb and treats everyone he encounters with respect and aloha.

“What people don’t realize is action stars act and do a lot of their own stunts. I was physically and emotionally exhausted after just two days of filming with Alex, and I had the weekend break in between.”

As candid as Hecomovich was about working with O’Loughlin, he had equally great things to say about Borth and Chun.

“Michelle is a total pro, bringing her unique energy to each take,” he said. “She has a big heart and a hug for local actors. She is a pleasure to work with and she’s even more beautiful in person.”

“Chun is a classic veteran actor who realizes that his continued training is the key to his success.”

 Kainalu Hecomovich. (Courtesy Julia Guimaraes)
Kainalu Hecomovich. (Courtesy Julia Guimaraes)

FOR THE last two years, Hecomovich has pursued his acting and film career by working on various TV and film sets and taking UH Pacific New Media courses so he can produce his own content. He also teaches at American Renaissance Academy and is planning his next movie for the Sundance Native Film Lab.

“Being an actor in Hawaii is not easy,” said Hecomovich. “If you really want it, sometimes you have to make it happen. I want to show the world that Hawaii actors can act, that we want to get our stories out there, and if anyone is going to make film here, local hires will deliver and deliver big!

“People watch “Hawaii Five-0” and movies filmed in Hawaii to see the beauty of the islands and its people. So let’s create beautiful art and make successful TV and films together — letʻs live the dream.”

You can follow Hecomovich on Twitter and Instagram. He also has an Facebook page where you can watch his newest short film, “Legend of the Bearwolf Clan,” co-starring fellow “Five-0” actor Will Oak Wild.

Redux Side Note:

While everyone waits for a new episode on Jan. 10, “Five-0” fans got four great repeats to help them bide their time.

On New Years Day, CBS aired “ʻŌhuna” (“The Secret”), while TNT aired “Kālele” (“Faith”) and
“Haʻalele” (“Abandoned”) on Thursday, Jan. 2.

Last night, Jan. 3, CBS aired “Huakaʻi Kula” (“Field Trip”).
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Comments (13)

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  • Perfect blend of Hawaiian flavor and learning behind the scenes acting techniques! After reading this I think actors who play the bad guys may want to tell Alex to take it easy on them. LOL 🙂

  • Mahalo Wendie for this wonderful insight not only into this wonderful local actor but also on how things work on set and behind the scenes. Wonderful to hear how Alex interacts with the guest actors and how together they get the best out of every scene. But I agree with Terry…. maybe they SHOULD ask him to take it easy a bit! LOL

  • Mahalo Wendie for a wonderfully written article! Aloha & Happy New Year to all the Hawaii 5-0 ‘ohana & viewers world-wide, Season 4 is gonna rock! – Kainalu

    • This article is so well written. I was really impressed with the amount of insight it gave to the screen acting process and the respect it pays to local actors in this craft. It’s amazing how much goes into just one scene and the DAYS of preparation that a few minutes require. Great job, Kainalu! Keep looking forward as you grow and evolve in this field. We love you 🙂

  • Wow – it’s nice to see comments by the actor himself 😉

    Wendie, it is great that you also write occasionally about actors who are not so well-known (at least not to foreign viewers like me) and share with us their stories and dreams.
    In the case of Kainalu, your blog clearly shows that there’s a lot more behind the “crazy tweaker” we all laughed about in “Kahu”. Kainalu is actually a very talented man, and I truly hope he gets to live his dream of successfully bringing the Hawaiian art of entertainment to viewers outside the islands, too.

    He might not win an Oscar as predicted by Alex but his appearance on H50 – as short as it may have been – was a great step towards making his dream come true because he definitely left a lasting impression in those two short scenes which were hilarious. I love the entire episode but the scenes with him stood out as the funniest ones – and a lot of it had to do with his very “credible” performance.
    After reading his account of filming with Alex, I feel a bit sorry for him though for getting his head kicked so hard. Even though it was “worth it” and Kainalu thinks “bad guys need roughing up”, Alex could have been a little gentler with the poor guy. There are actually quite a few among us who think it would be a lot of fun to have a small role on our favorite show some day, but we should probably all be glad that we’ll never get to play a criminal on H50 cause it seems to be a really tough job – especially if Alex as Steve gets his hands on you :-). Well, at least, Alex isn’t treating himself any better and works really hard.

    Anyway, I wish Kainalu the very best for his career and that he’ll soon be remembered for much more than just for being the crazy guy whom Dennis as Sgt. Duke Lukela referred to in this fantastic line: “Looks like somebody made Santa’s naughty list”. I just had to quote Duke – loved that line and the grin on his face 😉

    • Santa’s naughty list :)) Thank you for your kind words, they are encouraging and inspiring. 🙂 I worked very hard training at the same Master’s film & tv acting studio with Dennis Chun to prepare myself to put in a memorable performance for viewers like you 🙂 It was great to be able to put our training to use in a scene together. It’s amazing how far reaching the Hawaii 5-0 audience is, hope you enjoy Season 4!

  • deeear missed last week Redux gonna read it right away lol !!!

    TY hun for this one !!! I absolutely LOVE this scene !!! because it’s McRoll, and as usual, Alex and Michelle kill it ! , because it’s funny, lovely, and Hecomovich was great ! this scene made me laugh so hard and it was very well played by all of them 😉

    I love this review because what u say Wendie about the show, it’s the reason why I watch it : I love the stunts, and the bromance, and the show itself, but what I do LOVE above all, is the Ohana spirit ! we see amazing and breathtaking views of Hawaii, lots of people playing are local, and we all had and have the chance to talk with local persons, and everyone can agree that persons like Amy, Lisa, Moni, Julie …. … … have a BIG BIG heart and are real loves ! and this way to live, this way to be of hawaiian people is shared and shown in the show, and it’s what make H50 be unique and better than any other show : the real Ohana spirit shared in every single episode 😉

    Thanks so so much Wendie !! 😉 and running to read the previous one lol XO

    • Aloha and mahalo so much for your comments! This is exactly why the show is such a big hit worldwide! Showcasing the beauty and spirit of Hawaii with amazing acting and character-driven, engaging plot lines in breathtaking backdrops & locations. Alex is truly amazing to work with, you can feel his genuine love for his craft and respect for you as a co-worker, he is a true family man & treats everyone like family. A true leading man. Aloha!

      • Aloha ! 🙂 you truly were AMAZING in this role and the scene was perfect ! i loved it so much !
        You’re totally right about it ! EP Peter Lenkov and the entire writing team are doing such an awesome job putting forward the beauty of the island and of the ppl leaving there !
        Wldnt expect anything else from a man like Alex, he looks awesome !
        Mahalo for ur comment and good luck for the future 🙂
        Aloha from France m/

  • Your right, Wendie, it IS hard waiting for a new H50 episode, but you know how to keep us 5-0 junkies satisfied with your weekly blog entries! The opening scenes of Kahu were a lot of fun to watch – nothing like starting off a new episode laughing my head off – and now I see why it was so good! Kainalu Hecomovich is a pro! Enjoyed reading all about him and will look forward to seeing him in more acting roles in the future – maybe even recurring on H5-0 soon? Thanks for the good read, Wendie!

    • Thanks so much! Let’s make it happen! Bring back the Tweaker campaign 2014! 🙂 Can you imagine the next time McGarrett and I cross paths again? Intensity and comedy guaranteed!

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