Meeting the cast members of “Hawaii Five-0” is always an exciting and memorable experience. Whether you bump into one of them at a local eatery, meet them at a fan gathering, at Sunset on the Beach or on set, a moment shared with a favorite actor or actress always leaves one a bit star-struck.
Yet sometimes it really just makes you realize how down-to-earth and real these people are when off-camera and going about their daily lives.
I’ve been thinking about collecting fan stories about meeting their favorite actors ever since my friend Angela Gerstner sent me her story about meeting Mark Dacascos in Germany while he filmed the movie “Ultimate Justice” last year.
“It was great for us to get living proof that Mark is 100 percent different from Wo Fat,” she said. “Mark was terrific — charming and totally relaxed and grounded.
“What was even more amazing about it was the fact that Mark had already finished working on “Five-0” by that time and might as well have said, ‘Forget about ‘Hawaii Five-0’ and its fans – the show is over for me.’
“But, luckily for us, he didn’t.”
The idea solidified last week when Brad Hayes, who played astronaut Richard Royce in “Ke Koho Mamao Aku” (“Longshot”), sent me photos of actor Jimmy Buffett with his chopper from (“Justice for all”).
Buffett, who plays Frank Bama, met with Hayes and the crew who were tasked to prep the historic CH-53D Sea Stallion helicopter in order for it to look like one of Bama’s finds to help the Five-0 team save Danno in a Columbian prison. Hayes, who is the executive director of Naval Air Museum Barbers Point, not only sent me great pics of their prep work, but also an amazing story about the helicopter and its connection to Jimmy Buffett.
“Jimmy Buffett was impressed with the helicopter when I told him its personal history,” he said via email. “It’s been literally been in every U.S. conflict since 1969 until 2001. He was tickled when I let him know that the two enlisted Marines who flew her, Travis Clements and John Rumsey, used to camp out in her during Desert Shield and Desert Storm and listen to Buffett songs. They slept in her because berthing spaces were crowded and hot below deck while it was aboard the USS Saipan.
“At this time the helo was nicknamed Lunatic Fringe and it had nose art. I bet they never imagined that someday their helo would be on ‘Hawaii Five-0’ and Buffett would play a former Marine pilot in their CH-53! For one small moment full circle has been achieved for all three entities: Lunatic Fringe, her crew, and Buffett.”
Other stories came in this week that were just as thrilling. Of course, many had to do with the major stars Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan, but several were about recurring cast members as well.
Janelle Robles, from Dallas, Tex., had a chance encounter with Ian Anthony Dale while she was on vacation in Hawaii last September. She and friends Terri Ferrara and Donna Walston attended the 2014 Sunset on the Beach premiere. They had met several stars and gotten them to sign Robles’ custom reproduction of a Kala Alexander photograph.
“The only actor I could not reach was Ian Anthony Dale,” Robles messaged. “But the next day Terri and Donna and I decided to get breakfast at the Diamond Head Cove Health Bar, one of our favorite spots. And guess who came in for breakfast as well? Ian Anthony Dale.
“So I took a chance and went up to him and apologized for bothering him, and told him we were all big fans. I told him the story about being at the premiere and not being able to reach him to get him to sign the picture. He asked me if I had it, and when I told him I did, he said he would sign it.
“He was so nice and easy going. He was just so gracious, even though it was his own personal time and he really didn’t have to talk with us.”
Patricia Gelardo met Will Yun Lee while on vacation in Hawaii. Gelardo, who is from New York, happened to come across “Hawaii Five-0” while they were filming in Kahala.
“We saw Alex O’Loughlin from across the street, which was exciting, but when we went back to where we were parked we saw Will Yun Lee and talked to him and took pics,” Gelardo wrote. “He was so nice and answered my tweet when I said how nice it was to meet him.
“It’s always exciting to meet someone you see on TV and even thought Will plays a bad guy, he could not have been nicer!”
Maddie Rico also met Dennis Chun while on vacation in Hawaii. Rico, who is from New Jersey, met Chun at various fan events and at a pre-Sunset on the Beach lūʻau.
“My favorite memory happened this year, while I was enjoying my 50th birthday party with local friends in Hawaii,” wrote Rico. “My friend Lisa’s phone rang, and it was Dennis. He wasn’t able to join us, but found time to call and wish me a happy birthday.
“The best part of the call? He sang happy birthday to me! Dennis is truly a wonderful ambassador of aloha for Hawaii, and ‘Hawaii Five-0.’ He always treats every person he meets with such kindness and respect. I’ll treasure each time we met or spoke.”
Linda Stein from Philadelphia had a similar story to share about meeting Chun.
“In May 2013 my husband and I went on our dream vacation to Hawaii,” she messaged. “One of the highlights of our trip was a (fan gathering) at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
“What I didn’t know was that these wonderful friends had a surprise for me. I couldn’t believe it when I turned around and Dennis Chun was there, extending a welcoming hand and a hug, huge smile on his face as if it was his pleasure to meet me, instead of the other way around.
“Dennis made me feel like a friend out to dinner instead of just a fan of the show. We spoke about the show, of course, about the legacy of ‘Five-0’ and how I’d watched his dad as Chin Ho from when I was a child into young adulthood. He told me how much he and the rest of the cast appreciated all the support fans like me gave to the show throughout the entire year. He made me feel special.”
Fans sent in several stories about meeting the main cast members of the show, mainly Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan.
Utah resident Susan Morrell met O’Loughlin at Egan Inoue’s training center.
“Egan was chatting with me and called Alex over to met me and take a photo together,” wrote Morrell. “Alex was so nice and I was thrown by his Australian accent since I’m used to hearing him as Steve McGarrett. It felt surreal because I didn’t expect it and it was in a normal setting, not a ‘Hawaii Five-0’ setting.
“I loved how he was just one of the guys and down to earth. I really appreciated him taking the time to take the photo with me.”
Australian Wendy Hansen met O’Loughlin at the Hawaii ALS Walk in September 2014.
“My husband and I met Alex after the walk and he was extremely gracious with his time, especially after he discovered we were from Australia,” said Hansen in her message. “We gave him three ‘Hawaii Five-0’ themed Build-A-Bears, two for him to auction off and one for him to keep for his birthday, and he was quite excited to receive them.
“He said that the greatest gift his fans could give him for his birthday is to continue to donate to his chosen charities. He is very easy to talk to, a genuinely lovely guy, and I’m proud to call him my fellow countryman.”
Christie Haymen had an amazing set visit and met Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan.
“I won a ‘Hawaii Five-0’ set visit with Scott Caan for me and my sister-in-law, Kate,” she wrote. “When we arrived on set, Scott’s assistant took us on a tour while the crew set up for a scene. We saw the famous Camaro, HPD, the interrogation room, and then we walked right into the living room of McGarrett’s house.
“Finally we found ourselves in Five-0 headquarters and were led into Chin’s office where the director and others were watching monitors. … We saw multiple scenes filmed. At one point, the director told Alex he was adding an ‘and’ in the line and wanted him to eliminate it. He good-naturedly shouted back arguments for keeping (it) and began walking back toward us.
“As he approached, he said, ‘I didn’t know we had guests today. No one told me we were having guests, and I’m misbehaving!’ We laughed.
“After the scene was shot, Alex came over to us again and introduced himself and shook our hands. He and Scott are even more handsome in person! Then we were introduced to Scott and his dog Dot. Scott personalized photos of himself for us and took a couple photos with us. Scott was more on the quiet side than Danno, almost shy. Alex was very friendly and super energetic, and much more of a joker than McGarrett.
“Both guys were incredibly charming and kind, and the crew echoed those sentiments and said how fun it was to work with them.”
I wish I could have shared all the stories fans sent me. I’m sure I could write one post a month about fans meeting “Hawaii Five-0” stars and guests, and I would not cover it all.
I promise to revisit this topic again, and gather more stories about our favorite actors and how real and gracious they are with fans. I’m sure the stories will be similar, and thankfully so. Mahalo to those of you who sent in stories; like the actors we watch every week, I can’t do this without you.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.