One element I love about writing the Five-0 Redux is talking with Hawaii actors who play small but significant roles on “Hawaii Five-0.”
I’ve met many amazing people in person and over the phone — some seasoned actors, some famous in their own right, and some virtually unknown. Yet they’re all amazing people who have special skills the show has included over the seasons.
Take Brad Hayes, who played Astronaut Richard Royce in last week’s Christmas episode, “Ke Koho Mamao Aku” (“Longshot”). I not only learned his amazing story, but also more about what happens behind the scenes on our favorite show.
Hayes is executive director at Naval Air Museum Barbers Point and his stint on “Five-0” helped him to not only check off a few items on his bucket list, but also gave him a chance to be in front of the cameras. Hayes often helps the production acquire military vehicles and props for use in the show and works with their armorer, Terence N. Morgan, as well as with the costume and transportation departments.
“I care for everything from M-60A3 tanks and M-113 APCs to P-3 anti-sub patrol bombers and helicopters, to small arms and machine guns,” he said. “We have HMMWVs and Jeeps and trucks that the show uses from time to time. We usually bring the vehicles dressed and ready, and that usually includes properly fitted-out drivers or crew to match what the show needs for a particular episode.”
Hayes experience working behind the scenes in television and film is extensive. He’s worked on ABC’s “Lost” as a aerial coordinator and military advisor, as well as the feature films “Pearl Harbor” and “Windtalkers” as an extra and a troop wrangler. He recently consulted on “Unbroken” during pre-production and met with Angelina Jolie, who directed the film. He helped the production find all the correct period shots of airfields called for in the script; he also located and referred the production to all the types of aircraft in the movie and other ground support gear from the period.
Hayes is definitely an expert in his field, yet when I asked him about his prior acting experience he talked a lot about what a tough job actors have and how hard it must be to work in the industry.
“I do like to work on period or military projects because it’s fun for me to apply my military knowledge in those areas,” he said. “I’m still waiting to work on a truly period and authentic military aviation movie or show.”
Hayes said he was called by casting associate Brent Anbe to read for the astronaut character. He read for the part twice; on the second audition Hawaii casting director Rachel Sutton and director Bryan Spicer were in the office.
“I actually brought some radios and a headset/mic for me to read the lines,” Hayes said. “The astronaut’s lines were a transmit and receive type of conversation, and being a U.S. Marine and a pilot, it was easier for me to function in the audition as I would in some spacesuit on Mars.”
I think Hayes’ desire for authenticity, as well as his military experience, gave him an edge over other actors considered for the part. He said it might have also been the fact he could wear the spacesuit without becoming claustrophobic and freaking out.
“Shooting in the suit was what I thought it would be — warm, hard to hear except over the headset I wore, and it was heavy; close to 80 to 90 pounds that was not at all balanced right,” he said. “The suit had a ventilation system built-in and they did bring a rack to stand on that supported the suit when I was not shooting. I’d walk up to the rack and connect fittings on the front to the rack and then I could take the weight off for a bit. It was a replica training version of the suit that NASA has selected to use on Mars someday.
“Honestly though? It was cake. In the Marines we woreMission Oriented Protective Posture gear to protect us from chemical and biological threats. Sometimes for days on end we were sealed up. I can remember playing soccer and basketball while we wore the MOPP gear, as well as running and doing PT regularly. So wearing the spacesuit was duck-soup.
“When Rachel said that the role involved wearing a spacesuit on the slopes of Mauna Loa at 8,200 feet above sea level, I was stoked. I wanted this role just to be able to wear the suit!
“The Marines taught me to focus and mission first, so discomfort, distractions, pain and sweat don’t factor in when trying to accomplish the job at hand. I applied that way of life to the three hours in that suit buttoned up to give Five-0 a decent astronaut.”
Hayes was a font of information about the suit and shooting on Mauna Loa. He not only shared about his day on set but more about how authentic everything was for the opening scene.
“It’s a live training/movie prop suit made and owned by Global Effects in California,” he explained. “The suit is a replica of the MK-III Orion spacesuit that NASA has selected to take to Mars.
“There are five of these training suits in existence right now. The fabric on the arms and legs is a special one as well. The suits joints are all articulating and work on sealed ring bearings. Moving in the suit took some practice— squatting, reaching up, all that took some getting used to. But the suit had its own cooling system, so that was nice.”
Hayes shot in the HI-SEAS training area set all in one day.
“If you go up to Mauna loa and see the sunrise it is awe inspiring. Temps were in the 40s till the sun came up and then warmed to 60s. Once we got to the ‘Five-0’ base camp, I suited up. First thing I put on was a liquid cooing garment that was worn like pants and a turtleneck NOMEX top from my flight gear locker at work.”
After getting dressed he got up on a ladder and hung from a pull-up bar to lower himself into the suit, which was a rigid body he dropped into. The suit’s backpack served as a door that allowed him to enter and exit.
“We were on set till about 3 p.m. My scenes were about three hours from start to finish with suiting up, breaks, resets, and doffing the suit,” Hayes said. “It was just so cool. You can’t hear anything in the suit. A couple of times I would turn away from the cameras and all the crew and just look out over the mountain and it was almost like I was on Mars.”
Hayes was very proud to be involved with the episode that took viewers to the Big Island and talked about how patient and great the crew was with him. He was very grateful for getting a shot at what he called “a dream role.”
“My experience with ‘Five-0’ casting has always been fun,” he said. “The gang in that office are pros and have been really nice friends since I starting working with the show. I’ve been a extra by default in all the seasons off and on due to driving or crewing on military vehicles.
“I think the best thing … is that all the cast and crew are friendly, down to earth, and they are a family. Actors, directors, supervisors, grips, props, wardrobe, all of them are super cool.
“They all genuinely care about what you see on your TV. That’s my impression, at least as a outsider,” Hayes said.
Hayes definitely took his outsider role and turned it into a fantastic experience few people have ever experienced, either on television or in real life.
REDUX SIDE NOTE:
Don’t miss the 2013 Christmas episode on Dec. 27. “Hawaii Five-0” returns with a new episode, “Wāwahi moeʻuhane” (“Broken Dreams”), on Jan. 2 with special guest stars William Forsythe, Doug Savant and Eric Roberts.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.