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Five-0 Redux

Sean sends his aloha to Five-0 fans

  • COURTESY BENNY FONTILLA
  • CBS

It is no secret that I am a huge Christopher Sean fan and that I have very much enjoyed watching him play “Hawaii Five-0” series villain, Gabriel Waincroft. It is also true that I am not happy that he was unceremoniously killed off in the season six finale. His death, in “Paʻa ka ʻīpuka i ka ʻupena nananana” (“The Entrance is Stopped with a Spider’s Web”), was quite anticlimactic, as Gabriel died on the operating table after been shot in the gut. We watched as he was taken out of an ambulance, wheeled into the hospital, and then Chin (Daniel Dae Kim) tells McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) Gabriel’s fate with a simple, “He didn’t make it.”

So while I wasn’t happy with how Sean’s exit was handled, I was thrilled when he agreed to answer some of my humble questions about his time as our favorite bad guy. The first time I had a chance to interview Sean was during season four after his debut in “Hana Lokomaikaʻi” (“Favor”). I had a short conversation with him last March during a H50hana fan event, when he was in Hawaiʻi filming the season five finale, and the last time I spoke with him was when we saw each other at the July season six blessing.

It’s been a busy time for Sean, as while he has been playing Gabriel, he also has been working on the daytime drama “Days of Our Lives,” playing former professional baseball player, Paul Narita. Sean answered a few questions for me via email and phone a few days after the May 13 “Hawaii Five-0” finale.

QUESTION: What has being on Five-0 done for you– personally, as well as professionally? Are you recognized more?  

ANSWER: Working on a hit show like “Hawaii Five-0” makes people turn their heads all the time, both on the streets and in show biz. Yet, every time I worked with the cast I grew immensely as an actor. I learned from every choice they made as actors, and how they collaborate and create on the spot. It’s always wonderful to watch magic happening right before your eyes. I’ve been working on “Days Of Our Lives” the entire time I was filming “Five-0.” Many of the team on “Days” would start singing the “Hawaii Five-0” theme song when I was around– it became an ongoing joke that I loved.  Daytime television is a completely different monster and both daytime and primetime television demand tons of respect and take a lot of hard work.

Q: What are you going to be doing for the rest of the year? Let us know where we’ll be able to see you again– if you can.

A: I do have projects I am working on currently and hopefully we will see these projects take flight in the near future. I’ll be producing a feature film that my business partner and I have written. It’s a comedy and I hope that I can make you all laugh soon!

Q: Who on the set was the most influential or helped you the most?

A: All the actors on set were always so helpful, but the actor who took the most time to be there for me was Daniel Dae Kim. DDK would actually take the time to talk to me about the art of acting. It’s a gift I’ll never forget. He is truly a gentleman and a scholar. I’ve learned so much from him, but the best thing I learned was that no matter how successful we become we should always treat everyone with respect. Daniel is a man who has embodied that principle from cast to crew to fans. As he’s one of the few Asian American actors to be successful in the entertainment business his advice holds more weight than gold.

Q: Can you tell us about the “best” time you’ve had on set?

A: The best time I had on set was just hanging out with Alex (O’Loughlin), Scott (Caan), Grace (Park), and Daniel– usually in Scott’s trailer having lunch and joking around with the team. They are just such a great group of people, so helpful and knowledgable. Each of them deserve all kinds of greatness in their lives. They each passed on advice to me– from what books that have changed their lives, to giving me career advice. I think playing “Would You Rather?” in Scott’s trailer was unforgettable. (Sorry, folks, Sean did not expand on that story.)

Q: What was it like shooting the season opener (of season six) with Ian Anthony Dale and Grace Park? It was pretty brutal— can you tell us what that was like?

A: Being a part of the opening scene with Ian and Grace was intense. It actually was the very first scene that started us up for the season and I thought to myself, this is the first shot of season five, I am not gonna hold back. These poor actors are gonna feel my wrath! (He laughed). It was so much fun to just be vicious with Ian and Grace and they had the  professionalism to deal with the torture scenes. I was very impressed with them. They both actually stayed tied down to the wooden chairs for hours, while my team and I basically, ate their food, ripped their teeth from their mouths, and physically beat them. The entire way through the scenes they were positive and eager. It was so impressive– and such a great lesson for me.

I remember when we filmed the scene where Gabriel kicks Adam in the chair and the chair fell over. The stunt double asked me to kick him as hard as I could. I thought, “You’re out of your mind! I’m not going to do that!” But he said to me that if I wanted him to work more, then I’d do it. This guy was serious. So, I thought– let’s do it. When we actually filmed the kick, I kicked him so hard, square in the chest and when he hit the ground the chair broke behind him into pieces! It was awesome, but the problem was– we weren’t finished filming the scene and they didn’t have an extra chair! So we had to drill screws into it to fix it back up and tape it and shoot around the chair so nobody would notice. Oh man, I felt so bad for Ian’s stunt double that I told him, “Please, let me take you to dinner.”

So that night my girlfriend Laneya Arvizu and I took our friend and stuntman Jess Lundgren out for drinks and food. We laughed when he told me, “Great kick, man.” I really laid into him, but he said, “I’ve had worse.”  I thought that was impossible because I kicked him so hard! (He laughed.) Jess is really a true tough guy.

Q: And likewise, shooting the season ender with the team— how has your relationship with them changed since you were on “Hana Lokomaikaʻi” in season four?

A: When I first started on the show, until the death of Gabriel Waincroft in season six, I was always very respectful. I knew my role– come in kick ass and leave them not knowing how in the world it just happened. On set, behind the camera, it was slightly different. What you wouldn’t see is me showing up and making jokes with everyone. The crew is tough, and work hard, so I always made it a point to spend a lot of time with them making them laugh and enjoying their time on set with me. I always enjoyed spending time with them.

My time spent with the actors just kept getting better and better. Grace and Daniel were the two I worked with the most. They are so cool– we always had a riot. I really enjoyed hanging with them as well as working with them– it was always a good time. Julie Benz was awesome to work with too– she’s a very fun loving and a great person. I loved watching her fit in with her new role. With everything that she has accomplished, she made it look so easy to join in on such a fast paced show. Kudos to Julie for great work! And just being around Alex and Scott– most of the time I was wowed at how much chemistry they have together. To work and hang with them was awesome. I have to say all of the Five-0 cast are great. They have great personalities and through the years I’ve worked with them, they’ve made me feel like part of the family– and there’s nothing better than when friends make you feel like family.

Q: Gabriel has been pretty physical this year– falling out of a building and onto a car, getting shot, jumping over a building— did you do some of your own stunts and what have you done to train for your stunt work?

A: I can’t say that I do all my own stunts, because let’s be honest– I’m not that brave. (He laughed). But I did get to do a lot of them. Jeff Cadiente is a brilliant stunt coordinator and director. He masterminded all of the cool fights and falls and gunfights for my character. I was lucky enough to be able to work with my stunt double, Don Thai, who also taught me to be able to step in for a lot of the fighting between DDK and I. Daniel’s stunt double is Danny Kim– an amazing martial artist and friend. It was great, because I have formal martial arts training, and so does DDK, so we both were willing to get dirty for our fights.

When they asked us if we wanted to do them we were both like “Let me at em!” (He laughed). I got to do everything, but the very dangerous things– like the three story fall onto the vehicle, I left that to the pros– Jeff Cadiente, Don Thai, and Danny Kim.

Q: What has been your best experience with the Five-0 fans?

A: I get so much love from the Five-0 fans on social media– it’s phenomenal. I love to read their comments on my Instagram pics of what they loved from the show. I’ll comment back or like their pictures as well–  it’s my little way of giving love back. On Twitter it’s great to be interactive with them, because let’s be honest, the fans love to give love and it’s a wonderful thing to be told that you are loved. I’d love fans to feel free to always show me some love and say hi to me.

I assured Sean that fans would always show him some love. Many have expressed their love of Sean in real life– as well as their grudging love of his bad boy character. And luckily for us, Sean was willing to share his experience on Five-0 and gave us all a moment to say farewell to one of our favorite recurring cast members.

You can follow Sean on Instagram, as well as on Twitter and Facebook.

Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter  and Instagram.

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  • Wow. I really did not like this guy before I read this article. That’s how great an actor he is. I guess I had never separated the character from the actor. He is really a great guy. I’m kind of sorry too that we won’t see him in 50 anymore, but as talented as he is and as great a person as he sounds like, I am sure that great things are going to happen for him. I’ll surely be on board for everything he is involved in. Maybe in the future we will see him in some capacity in the new McGuyver. That would be awesome. It’s always great to hear what great people the cast and crew are. I love that they have fun just hanging out in Scott’s trailer. (would love to know more about that game) I am glad he mentioned Julie, too. She is a great addition to the cast. It’s like she’s always been there she fits in so well. It is sad that he won’t be back but at least his character did show a little humanity at the end of it all being concerned for his daughter. I have a feeling there will be a lot more to that story. Gabriel will live on through his daughter.

    • Me too. I was very impressed with the portrait of the actor as a person that came out in this article. There were some good lessons also about staying humble and good-talking your colleagues. Worth remembering.

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