Five-0 Redux: Sean a big hit as bad brother

Jun. 7, 2014 | 9 Comments

Actor Christopher Sean playing Mexican drug cartel boss, Gabriel Waincroft. (Courtesy CBS)

COURTESY CBS

CHRISTOPHER SEAN AS MEXICAN DRUG CARTEL BOSS GABRIEL WAINCRAFT.

BY WENDIE BURBRIDGE / Special to the Star-Advertiser

More often than not, the bad guy always gets what he deserves on “Hawaii Five-0.” Actor Christopher Sean is no exception to the rule, he did get a huge pat on the back from fans as well as veteran actor William Sadler, who guest-starred with him in this week’s rebroadcast of “Hana Lokomaikaʻi” (“The Favor”).

Sean, best known for co-starring in web drama “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries,” is a young actor with a bright future ahead of him. His portrayal of Bing Lee in the online series earned him an Emmy for Outstanding Creative Achievement In Interactive Media. His turn on “Hawaii Five-0,” playing Chin Ho Kelly’s (Daniel Dae Kim) brother-in-law Gabriel Waincroft, was a big hit with fans, who saw him as a young innocent turned into a deadly drug lord via flashbacks into Chin Ho’s tragic past.

Little was known about Sean before he appeared on “Hawaii Five-0.” After the episode aired, he spoke to me and Amy Bakari on the “Amy and Friends Show” on KPRP-AM 650. Sean was very candid about his very detailed character arc, lessons he learned about acting while on set, as well as his experience working with Daniel Dae Kim.

Actors Daniel Dae Kim and Christopher Sean on the set of “Hana Lokomaikaʻi.” (Courtesy Christopher Sean)

COURTESY CHRISTOPHER SEAN

DANIEL DAE KIM AND CHRISTOPHER SEAN ON SET.

“Watching Daniel work, I thought, ‘I want to be you! I gotta be you in my life,’” said Sean.

“(For the fight scenes), we got out there we spent a couple of hours going back and forth, but Daniel is such a natural, he’s so talented, we both picked it up quickly, and we both just ran through it and we said, ‘Okay, I think we’re good,’” he said.

Sean grew up training in Tae Kwon Do, boxing, wrestling, mixed martial arts and jiu-jitsu, so the fight scenes came relatively easy for him, as did the complicated character arc he had to portray.

“The script was very well done, I knew what they wanted and I knew what was expected of me,” he said. “I felt very comfortable portraying this person. I’m at an in between age (where) I can look younger and then when I do grow a goatee, I look sort of dangerous and older.”

Sean played Gabriel as a young confused kid, just beginning to get involved in gang activities during the flashback scenes. Then he aged 15 years to play a Mexican drug lord for present-day scenes. In the flashbacks, we learn Sean’s character shoots and kills Chin’s father, Lt. Kam Tong Kelly (Gary Ala), in a botched robbery he was forced to complete in order to join a local gang. Chin and his partner at the time, Sgt. John McGarrett (William Sadler) investigate the murder, which was never solved.

“The director (Sylvain White) was extremely positive with his notes, he told me where to get bigger and where to focus,” Sean said. “I just took his notes and I incorporated everything.

“I did what he wanted, and working off Daniel was so easy, it just made it so comfortable.”

We saw a lot from Sean. He had to play innocence and then destroyed innocence. He also played evil and sadistic; a wide range of emotions.

“The writers (Peter Tassler, Peter Lenkov, Ken Solarz) really made my job easy. I just followed their direction.”

Fans loved Sean as Gabriel and flocked to compliment him online. Sadler, who called in during Sean’s interview, met him on set. While they had no scenes together, Sadler still had a lot to say about the young actor.

Actor William Sadler shared sage acting advice with Christopher Sean on the set of “Hana Lokomaikaʻi.” (Courtesy Christopher Sean)

COURTESY CHRISTOPHER SEAN

WILLIAM SADLER SHARES ACTING ADVICE WITH CHRISTOPHER SEAN ON THE “HAWAII FIVE-0″ SET.

“I didn’t have any scenes with him, (but) we talked for a bit in the make-up trailer,” Sadler said. “He is a terrific guy, he was really wonderful.

“But I have to say, he just rocked that character. I thought he did a great great job. Talk about a really nice character arc — he starts off in this one place as a scared kid and then he goes through a great transformation. It was really fun to watch.”

Sean took away a lot from meeting Sadler.

“There’s one thing that I’m never going to forget. William said that one of the techniques he uses as an actor is to show intelligence you have to be aware of everything around you— and to show the less intelligent characters, you just focus on one small spot. I’m going to incorporate that in everything now,” Sean said.

Sean, who is half-Japanese, grew up around the world as the son of a military father. Pulling off a local Hawaii boy look came naturally for him, and he was perfect playing a character viewers had heard about but never met. Malia (Reiko Aylesworth) had talked about her brother and we knew he was bad news, but until this episode we had no idea how ingrained he was in Chin’s past.

For Sean, this was a chance of a lifetime, and it looks like he not only learned a lot but also delivered an outstanding performance. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

REDUX SIDE NOTE

Congratulations to Daniel Dae Kim, who has joined the cast of “Insurgent,” the second film in the “Divergent” series.

This week TNT rebroadcasts of “E Mālama” (“To Protect”) and “Pōwā Ma Ka Moana” (“Pirate”).

“Pōwā Ma Ka Moana” is a special episode for many fans from Hawaii, as it was in this episode that Hawaiʻi actress Mary Beth San Juan played an extra. It has almost been a year since her death.

San Juan’s family shared their appreciation with actor Dennis Chun, who sent this message:

“Mary Beth’s family wanted to thank all the fans for remembering Mary Beth. The Five-0 ʻohana is a very special group whose love and aloha made a positive difference in her life.”
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Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

  • Linda M. Stein

    Once again, it’s so wonderful to meet the actors who bring Five-0 to life. Christopher did a fantastic job with this character. Taking Gabriel from scared kid to ruthless drug lord and making both of them not only believable but riveting can’t be an easy thing. Christopher did just that.

    This whole episode was extremely well done. Christopher’s performance, of course, but also that of Robert Knepper as the IA investigator was powerful. I literally wanted to jump through my TV screen and slap the man! And what can I say about Daniel Dae Kim. I could FEEL every emotion from him. Grief, frustration, anger, love, confusion, doubt…. they were ALL there. It was fun and painful to watch at the same time.

    Lastly, I also really LOVED Ken Solarz’s script. It was crisp and sharp and right on the money. I especially liked how he named Chin’s father Kam Tong Kelly… a subtle nod of respect to Kam Fong, the original Chin Ho. A very sweet touch. I’m sure our friend Dennis Chun really loved and appreciated that.

    Thanks again Wendie for the great insight into another fine Five-0 actor!

    • Wendie Joy

      Thanks for reading and commenting Linda:) This is what Dennis told me when the episode originally aired:

      Redux Side Note: from “Chasing out the Ghosts” http://www.honolulupulse.com/2014/01/five-0-redux-chasing-out-the-ghosts/

      One of the most interesting details from this episode was the name of Chin Ho’s father. Kam Tong is the real name of actor Kam Fong Chun, who originated the role of Chin Ho Kelly in the classic version of “Hawaii Five-O.”

      “I know Dad would be very honored to have such a quality person and actor as Daniel Dae Kim continue the story of Chin Ho Kelly,” said Fong’s son, Dennis Chun, who plays Sgt. Duke Lukela on the CBS reboot. “I am most grateful to Peter Lenkov for this remembrance of my father.” 



      When John McGarrett said Kam Tong’s “love of life was exceeded only by his love of family,” I know many would say the very same thing about Kam Fong. And like Kam Tong’s pride in Chin Ho joining the police force, I’m sure Kam Fong would be very proud of his son’s acting work on the show.

      • Linda M. Stein

        Agreed! Dennis is not only a great actor who brings a lot to the cast and the show with his work but he is also, as you know so well, a wonderful and sweet man. Meeting him was a highlight of my trip to Oahu I will never forget. Yes… his father would be extremely proud of the actor and the man!

  • Angela Gerstner

    Christopher definitely did a great job at portraying Malia’s brother at different stages in his life – and I don’t think his impressive performance was owed to the well-written script and feeling comfortable playing with an excellent and experienced actor like Daniel. Those aspects might have helped but he’s also got huge talent.

    However, various actors were absolutely brilliant in this episode – most of all, Daniel, as well as Robert Knepper who played the mean Internal Affairs guy who grilled Chin. Robert did such a great job that I actually “hated” his character :-)

    • Wendie Joy

      Thanks for commenting Angela:) Christopher was quick to give credit to the script and the director, so I had to add the fact that he had a hard job and he did it so well:) He was so great- you’re right, he’s got a huge talent:) Hope to see more of him. Mahalo for reading! Aloha, Wendie

  • jlopie1

    I have to agree, even though I had never heard of Christopher Sean before this particular episode of H5-0, he is someone I will certainly recognize onscreen in the future! In other words, he made an impression on me! When we first met him in the flashback, I was rooting for him to make the right choice, but obviously, by the last scene, I would have gladly pushed him off the roof for Chin!

    It must be amazing for young, upcoming actors to get the experience of working in Hawaii with such great, accomplished actors such as DDK and Bill Sadler!

    Thanks for keeping the H5-0 vibe going through the summer, Wendie! Now that the writers are back to work, it feels as if the hiatus is almost over!

    • Wendie Joy

      Thanks for commenting Lynnette! I agree- he was so great and I think he realized how lucky he was to be working with DDK and getting advice from Bill Sadler! :D This was a fun interview. Amy and I joked with him about how H50 “sometimes” busts certain bad guys out of jail:) LOL Thanks for reading! Aloha, Wendie

  • Diane

    Thanks for bringing another actor’s story to us. I enjoyed Christopher Sean’s performance and since he was carted off to jail and not killed off, I’m hoping that his character can come back at some point. Even though that probably means bad news for Chin.

    • Wendie Joy

      Thanks Diane:) I thought the same thing too and both Amy and I told Christopher about how H50 sometimes brings villains or visits them in prison:) We can only cross our fingers! Thanks for reading and commenting. Aloha, Wendie