Five-0 Redux: Sean a big hit as bad brother
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.
“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.
“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.
REDUX SIDE NOTE
Congratulations to Daniel Dae Kim, who has joined the cast of “Insurgent,” the second film in the “Divergent” series.
“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.”
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.