Outtakes Online: Amputee is real star of reboot
BY MIKE GORDON / firstname.lastname@example.org
The credits for Monday’s episode of “Hawaii Five-0” will list guest actor Peter Weller as the villain who lost his hands but the real star is Jason Koger.
Koger is the double amputee from Kentucky whose bionic hands were used in the rebooted version of a “Five-0” classic called “Hookman.” The original version, which first aired on Sept. 11, 1973, featured real-life double amputee Jay J. Armes in an acting role. The new episode, which airs Monday, will mix shots of Weller with shots of Koger.
The experience was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the 33-year-old Koger, who lost his hands five years ago when the all-terrain vehicle he was riding ran into a downed power line.
Koger answered a casting call last fall and impressed the “Five-0” production team with the things he can do with his prosthetic hands. They’re called I-Limbs by Touch Bionics and they sell for $150,000.
“I do everything I want to do today,” Koger said. “I have a wife and three kids but I could probably live on my own. I dress myself. I bathe myself.”
He can hunt, too, with a crossbow and a shotgun, but on the set of “Five-0” Koger was asked to do something new: Assemble a sniper’s rifle. He nailed it on the first take.
Koger hopes his part on “Five-0” will inspire people.
“Because of my accident I have really wanted to share my story with the whole entire world,” he said. “If you are determined and you have faith you can get over any obstacles. And I have done that. People have come up to me and said they should make a movie about you like ‘Soul Surfer.’”
The experience on set went beyond the stand-in tasks he was asked to do. Koger said he established genuine friendships.
“I didn’t know what to expect with celebrities,” Koger said. “You hear they can be stuck up. But the whole ‘Hawaii Five-0’ crew was great.”
Koger also spent time with the show’s star, Alex O’Loughlin, and the two men have stayed in touch via texts and email. On set, they talked about life and their families, Koger said.
“He was a great person to me, and me and him kind of hit it off,” Koger said. “We definitely had fun together.”
It was tough for Koger to go home, and not because Kentucky isn’t Hawaii.
“When I left, I felt I had lived there my whole life and I had left a bunch of my family members,” he said. “They all hugged me…and shook my hands.”
(If you want to know more about the original “Hookman” and two men who wrote it, check out my story in this Sunday’s Today section of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.)
Mike Gordon covers film and television in Hawaii for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter. Read his weekly “Outtakes” column Sundays in the Star-Advertiser.