Chin Ho Five-0
Accurately portraying Hawaii, its culture and people is paramount for Daniel Dae Kim in the new Five-0
If you haven’t already heard, there are some new cops in town. That is, except for one familiar face: Daniel Dae Kim. He’s been in Hawaii for the last six years playing Jin-Soo Kwon on ABC’s hit show LOST, and now has a new role as detective Chin Ho Kelly in CBS’remake of the iconic TV show Hawaii Five-0.
The show begins filming next month on Oahu and also stars Alex O’Loughlin as detective Steve McGarrett, Scott Caan as detective Danny Williams and Grace Park as Kona Kalakaua. The show, which centers around a fictional Hawaii state police force, originally aired on CBS from 1968 to 1980. The new version, which is described as an ultimate adventure series complete with big action, charming characters and, of course, those three famous words “Book ’em, Danno,” is scheduled to join CBS’
Monday lineup this fall.
“Hawaii Five-0 was a little before my time, but I remember snippets, like Jack Lord spinning his head around so heroically in the opening credits,” says Kim, 41. “I also certainly remember the theme. It’s iconic, and to this day, whenever I hear it, it’s hard to get out of my head.”
Kim, whose full name is Daniel Dae Hyun Kim, with Dae Hyun being his middle name and meaning “wise judge” or “great judge” in Korean, was born in Busan, South Korea, and raised in New York and Pennsylvania. These days, he’s in Hawaii nine months out of the year, and says he and his family (wife Mia and their two sons) truly consider Hawaii home. So, with LOST airing its final episode just a few weeks ago, the timing of Hawaii Five-0 could not have been better, and Kim says he’s grateful to be a part of it.
“I think one of the nicest things about Hawaii Five-0
is that we’ll be able to showcase Hawaii,” says Kim. “As much as LOST did for the Islands, the one thing it wasn’t able to do was show off the people and the culture. I’m sure the producers of Five-0 are looking forward to that opportunity. I know I certainly am.”
In preparation for his new role, Kim recently bought his first motorcycle, got licensed to ride and took a three-day intensive safety course.
“My character is going to be riding a motorcycle,” he explains. “I’ve ridden casually and I’ve ridden dirt bikes when I was younger, so I had some experience, but this is the first time I’ve ever been licensed.”
An award-winning actor (he shares a 2006 Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Ensemble and was honored with an AZN Asian Excellence Award, a Multicultural Prism Award and a VanguardAward from the Korean American Coalition, all for Outstanding Performance by anActor, to name a few), Kim discovered acting while a student at Haverford College.
“I had some electives and thought taking an acting class would be a nice change of pace from my normal studies,” he explains. “Little did I know at the time that it would turn out to be my career!”
Atalented actor with great looks (People magazine named him one of the Sexiest Men Alive in 2005, as did TV Guide, which named him one of TV’s Sexiest Men in 2006), Kim continued his studies in acting in the graduate acting program at New York University, where he earned a master’s degree in fine arts. Since then, he has built a resume of more than 50 film and TV credits, including The Jackal, Hulk, Spider-Man 2, The Cave, Crash, as well as guest roles on popular TV shows CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, ER and 24. He also lends his voice to video games, such as Saints Row and Saints Row 2, Scarface: The World is Yours, Tenchu and 24: The Game, as well as the animated TV series Justice League Unlimited and Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Most recently, he shot a film with Samuel L. Jackson called The Killing Game, scheduled for release next year, and has a small part in the next Matt Damon film titled The Adjustment Bureau, due out in September.
“I’m also developing a film project to be shot here in Hawaii based on the well-known novel The Tattoo,” adds Kim. “My partners and I are currently in the process of fundraising.”
As for his goal in acting, Kim says he’s still driven by the desire to tell interesting stories through characters he’d like to explore. He names LOST as the most significant single job in his career, but believes it’s too early to say what he’s most proud of because he’s “too young to have a retrospect.”
With LOST fans mourning the end of the TV series, Kim lists the things he’ll miss most as the high that comes with being on a hit show for the first time, being with a cast of actors who would become friends, and being on a show that he could be proud of.
“One moment I’ll never forget was the first time I walked out onto the set at Police Beach,” he recalls. “It was an unbelievably gorgeous morning, orange haze on the horizon, and the surf was gently making its way through the rocks to the shore. At that moment, I remember thinking how fortunate I was to be able to call this ‘my office.’
“No matter what happens with the rest of my career, LOST will always hold a special place in my heart.”
As for the LOST finale, which left many viewers confused on whether the events on the island ever actually happened, primarily because of images at the end of the episode showing wreckage of Oceanic 815 on the beach, Kim says it’s open to interpretation.
“That said, what I believe is that the characters are dead in the final scene and they’re dead in the flash sideways, but everything that happened on the island actually occurred and the characters did not die in the plane crash,” he explains. “What happened on the island did actually occur while the characters were alive, and Jin (Kim’s character) and Sun actually did die in the submarine.”
Now, back to Kim’s life in Hawaii, which is very much real. When he’s not busy filming, Kim loves to play tennis and some golf. He also likes to stay active by running, hiking or hitting the gym, although these days, between the demands of work and wanting to spend time with his family, Kim says he doesn’t find himself with a lot of time for hobbies.
“I think Koko Head is an incredible hike and I’ve actually done it with my 9-month-old Shiba Inu puppy, Kona, and it’s something I want to make a regular occurrence for the two of us,” says Kim. “And I enjoy running around Diamond Head. It’s beautiful, it’s right by the water and it’s nice to see other people enjoying the outdoors the same way.”
As for Hawaii Five-0: “I know how much this project means to the people of Hawaii, and I will do what I can to be mindful of that,” Kim continues. “Whether it means hiring as many local actors and crew as we can, or just making sure the people and culture are represented with respect, taking care of Hawaii will definitely be a priority for me.
“If our show is done right, Hawaii will be a big reason for its success.”