Daniel Dae Kim: “As an actor, I’m always looking to challenge and diversify”

Daniel Dae Kim
For six seasons, you saw Daniel Dae Kim as Jin in Lost. Now, get ready for a totally different character in his new show, Hawaii Five-O.

In this re-boot, he stars as Detective Chin Ho Kelly alongside Alex O’Loughlin, Scott Caan and Grace Park.  When he took the role, he said was looking to play someone different then Jin… and I’m betting he wanted to stay in Hawaii.

I got a chance to talk to Daniel at this years Comic-Con (in a round-table format so most of the questions weren’t mine) about the new version of Hawaii Five-O, Lost and a whole lot more.

Once again you’re filming and you’re shooting in Hawaii. What’s going to be different or what has been different about this experience versus Lost.

Daniel Dae Kim:  I’m not in the jungle.  I’m in climate-controlled situations. Uh, I’m not dirty. [LAUGHTER] And my clothes don’t have holes in them. So, yeah, that’s all…

That’s a good start.

Yeah, those are all very different. You know, it’s a very different sensibility to the show. Lost, was epic in scale, it told a large story with sci-fi elements. This show is more action-oriented. It’s faster, people like to say high-octane. And, you know, it’s a…it’s a familiar kind of story. Cops and robbers. Bad guys, good guys.

In this story, you’re a much more physical actor in this versus what you’ve done in the past. Are you doing your own stunts?

I will do whatever they will let me do, let’s put it that way.  I like doing my own stunts and I’ve done my own stunts as long as I’ve been an actor. And, I’ve had to learn to motorcycle and there will be limits to what I can do on that motorcycle because I have a wife and kids who want to see me come home every day. But other than that, I’m anxious and excited.

When it comes to buddy cop dynamics what’s your model? What did you look at when you were developing your rapport on-screen with the show?

I’ve re-watched Lethal Weapon and 48 Hours because those two were great buddy cop films that had elements of action and comedy together.

Have you ever watched the original series?

The original Hawaii Five-0? I saw a couple of episodes to prepare for the role in this one. But, you know, television sensibilities have changed since that was on and so we try and pay respect to everything that that show was and at the same time create something new for a different generation.

In the pilot there’s a really high production value, beautiful panoramic scenery and lots of action–is that sort-of thing we can expect going in future episodes?

I think so. I mean, uh, our executive producers, they’re really ambitious, and they want to make this so-called “event television” and in order to that you have to bring the event.

Daniel Dae Kim in Hawaii 5-0What was the motivation of joining a traditional television show after being on one of the, probably, most innovative network shows in television history?

Thank you for the compliment, I think. [LAUGHTER] No, I mean you all know that I’ve done my share of science fiction, and one of the things that appealed to me was that this was not science fiction, this was something that was in a genre that I hadn’t played in very often. I thought it was a nice departure of who Jin was on Lost. So, as an actor, I’m always looking to challenge and diversify, and this was  a step in that direction.  Hawaii Five-0 is a different kind of show where, you know, it’s not so much a mystery that gets solved over a number of seasons as much over a couple episodes.

How do you follow-up Lost and make your character as memorable as Jin in that series?

It’s hard to make a comparison between the two in that way because they’re very different. I know that in this particular genre and kind of show we’ll look to make a mark by having some interesting characters, first and foremost, some great action, and the beautiful island of Hawaii. We were able to showcase Hawaii in a way that Lost really wasn’t able to because it was supposed to be an unnamed island in the Pacific.

Do you worry about people coming, that have watched you on Lost, and coming to watch you now, and expecting to see Jin?

No, I don’t worry about it. I look forward to it. Cause I get my fair share of people who think…that I am Jin. [LAUGHTER] So, I am looking forward to having people say, “Wait a second…that guy can speak English!” [LAUGHTER] He’s not married! [LAUGHTER] It’ll be a welcome change.

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