Hawaiʻi actress Lauren Murata has many interesting stories to tell about her time on “Hawaii Five-0.” Murata played Laura Ioane in last month’s episode, “Ka Papahana Holo Pono” (“Best Laid Plans”), but fans will better remember her as the kidnap victim who was pulled to safety by the Five-0 team, and into the waiting arms of McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin).
Because everyone wants to be saved by McG, right? Romantic fantasies aside, no one can say that Murata’s character didn’t deserve a McGarrett hug, after being dumped in a hole in the ground and covered by an oversized garden vase for 20-plus hours.
Contrary to the length of her scene, Murata is no amateur. Her extensive resume starts at age six and shows her diverse television and stage experience. She grew up on stage and in front of the camera. Born in Hawaiʻi and raised in Kahala, Murata studied at Mid-Pacific’s School of the Arts and graduated from Kaiser High School. She went on to graduate with her degree in Communication from the University of Hawaiʻi Mānoa, where she also minored in Theatre. She trained under veteran actors Glenn Cannon and Terrance Knapp. She owns her own company as a certified personal trainer and aquatic fitness professional and runs Water Wahine Fitness.
She counts “Private Practice,” “The Craig Ferguson Show,” and “Lost” among her television credits and she is also very active on the Hawaiʻi stage. Most recently Murata played Mary Hatch Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life” and was in the ensemble cast of “Love, Loss, and What I Wore” at Mānoa Valley Theatre. She also played Maggie in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” with The Actor’s Group (TAG). Commercials, voice overs, and years of acting classes and training helped Murata prepare for her short, but intense, rescue scene.
“I didn’t realize how long that hug was until I watched the episode,” said Murata, who talked to me over the phone from her home in Honolulu. Murata filmed for two days, one day to take photos needed for some of the pictures that Chin (Daniel Dae Kim) and Jerry (Jorge Garcia) find that connect her to the case, and another day to shoot the rescue scene.
“I’m not a crier in life, but the two times I was asked to audition for the show, it was always for an upset woman ID’ing a body. But I like to audition— I like to perform and I think it just helps me get better. So I went for it,” shared Murata.
After reading the script, Murata showed up to audition for Rachel Sutton (the Hawaiʻi casting director) and (episode director) Maja Vrvilo, and reminded Sutton that she “still couldn’t cry.”
But then she got down on the ground and envisioned what it would be like to be kidnapped, left in an abandoned well for hours, and not knowing what was going to happen to her. “I don’t know what happened, but my something in my mind just snapped. I thought about never seeing my mom again— and the tears just started to flow,” said Murata.
“It was not what I expected, but it ended up being great.”
Murata talked about her day on the Five-0 set with great fondness. “They made me up that morning and I looked still human— dirty and a little beat up, but still recognizable. Yet when I got to the filming set, and they saw the 6 foot hole that I was going to be in, suddenly there were four women on me.”
After hair and make-up added their magic, they did a run-through of the scene, and during that time she met O’Loughlin and Daniel Dae Kim. Murata has met Kim on several occasions off-set and the actor did not recognized her with the additional “victim” make-up.
O’Loughlin gave her some sage advise. “Alex said to me: “You’re going in a hole, you go there. Use it. Make it real.”
While at first she said, there were “no tears,” she knew she had to make it work. “We rehearsed and then did four or five takes. I didn’t have a very long time to get into character, so I had to hunker down and mentally prepare. And it really worked.”
I thought so. I shared with Murata that I was really impressed by how believable she was when they found her. She said the first time they shot the scene, Grace Park said “Oh, wow,” and she felt comforted that what she was doing could move the seasoned actress.
“Alex said I left some on his shirt,” she joked, about how much she had been crying and how close their hug was after she is pulled out of the hole.
She talked about how she and the Five-0 star had a very good rapport and her experience, while supposedly harrowing, was made better by how gently she was treated by the cast and crew.
“Alex was constantly asking me how I was doing and if he could get me anything. He told the crew that as soon as they said action, we were going,” said Murata.
Murata was impressed that the star cared about the fact that she could be left in the well for longer than she needed to be. She did appreciate the fact that the crew took great care with her. She had a person assigned to her to put the duct tape on her wrists, and another who helped her down into the hole on a ladder.
“But basically it was just Alex who kept me company. He was really great. Just the nicest, funniest, sweetest person. I was floored,” shared Murata.
Not that we haven’t heard this story before about how great O’Loughlin is on set and how nice he is to other actors. But it was great to hear that Murata had a good experience shooting a rather difficult scene.
“The whole scene in the original script had McGarrett looking for me a lot longer. It seemed really quick in the episode,” shared Murata.
Murata explained that she had to stay in character the entire time, just so she could get into the mental space where she would be in the type of hysterics that was needed. “It was not a glamorous shot.”
Still Murata nailed it. Glamorous or not, she made a hard scene one we all enjoyed, as the good guys rescued the girl in the end.