Page 4 - MidWeek Kauai - June 9, 2021
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                                                        By deftly roping in all opportunities that come his way, Brad Kalilimoku is proving that no challenge remains too great for this ascending actor and modern-day cowboy.
T riumphs seem to come easy for Brad Kalil- imoku, a former Uni- versity of Hawaiʻi lineback- er-turned-Hollywood star. All it takes is a quick addition to his bucket list and his seem- ingly far-fetched dreams come to fruition. Such is the case when he landed his first-ever acting gig on Hawaiʻi Five-0 in 2017. Since then, the Pauoa Valley native has taken the reins on his future in the film industry, ready for anything
that comes his way.
Once guest-starring on a
The audition just so hap- pened to be for Netflix’s Find- ing ʻOhana, an Oʻahu-based film that tells the story of two New York-raised siblings with local roots. Kalilimoku plays Kua Kawena, the late husband of Leilani (portrayed by Kelly
“It’s funny that the mov- ie is called Finding ʻOhana because we found ʻohana in each other,” says Kalilimoku. “Me, Alex, Kelly, Kea, Lind- say (Watson), we all became pretty close. It didn’t feel like a foreign cast, it just felt like
“I hope that other people who watch it can see our cul- ture in this way. It’s all about family — that’s why it’s called Finding ʻOhana and not ‘Finding Treasure,’ ” he says with a smile.
hit TV show was crossed off, the Roosevelt High School alum quickly replaced it
Accurate representation
with a higher goal: to see his face on the streaming silver screen. And, of course, in typical Kalilimoku fashion, he received a life-changing call not long after.
She asked me a few things and talked about something emotional, like family, and I thought, ‘Oh no,’ because my grandma passed away not too long before this.
Hu), and father of Ioane (Alex Aiono) and Pili (Kea Peahu). Though he makes a brief ap- pearance, his heartfelt pres- ence undoubtedly leaves au- diences with “chicken skin.” The movie debuted in late January to much fanfare, es- pecially to those who can rec- ognize the striking backdrops and catch all of the L&L Ha- waiian Barbecue references.
our families all linked up and we became friends. We still talk till today.
is paramount for Kalilimoku — who graduated from UH Mānoa with a bachelor’s de- gree in Hawaiian language — when he considers auditioning for a part, but that wasn’t al- ways the case. In fact, his in- troduction to filmdom was a shoot that took place at Dole Plantation. His character’s name? The Pineapple Guy.
“I was in Bali and the in- ternet was spotty, and my agent can’t get a hold of me,” he remembers. “She sends me an email letting me know that this production is trying togetaholdofme.Itoldmy business partner, ‘Get off your computer because we need all the reception we can get.’ Then, (director) Jude Weng calls me, and ... she literal- ly does an audition with me on the spot through Skype.
“So, I’ m over here in the hotel room and I bring out my emotional side. I start crying — and she loved it. My agent called me back in 10 minutes and told me I booked the role.”
“I really respect Jude and the whole crew, just because they were super sensitive about Hawaiian culture,” he adds. “They did their home- work, they reached out to our community, and they really tried to see who was who and what knowledge they had.
“I had a sarong wrapped around me and I had a cape with no shirt underneath, and then my hat was this pineap- ple-looking thing,” he recalls with a laugh. “I had to stick my hands out and catch my ‘Hawaiian goddess,’ and I thought, ‘Wow, (people)

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