Ready for action
Alex O’loughlin is free of pain and loving life on and off the set of Hawaii Five-o, writes Holly Byrnes
THE big kahunas must be smiling on Alex O’Loughlin. Just months ago, headlines screamed with the news of the Australian actor’s admission to a rehab facility for the treatment of an addiction to painkillers.
It seemed, at first glance, to be an all-too-familiar story where a film or TV star, with everything at his feet, wipes out and off the radar.
To O’Loughlin’s credit, his tale wasn’t typical at all, recovering swiftly after struggling to shake a dependency on drugs used to treat a shoulder injury he sustained throwing himself too vigorously into a stunt on set.
As the no-nonsense leading man explains: ‘‘ I got hurt pretty bad on the show and I ended up taking painkillers to get to work. I had trouble getting off them. That’s as complicated as it gets.’’
The impact of his injury was a mortality reminder for the 38-year-old, learning to accept the ageing process.
‘‘ I am not 20-something any more, as you can see from the dusting of grey on the sides of my head,’’ he jokes.
But there’s no holding a good man down. He rattles off an impressive fitness regime that would weaken the average Aussie bloke.
‘‘ I am still doing physical therapy three times a week. I’m surfing, running, doing all that stuff. I just have to say no to some of the stunts I love doing so much. I enjoy doing that stuff but I’ve learned to let the stuntmen do those.’’
The forced spell meant the production, which airs on Channel 10, went on without O’Loughlin for a period, a strange experience for all involved given he has been in almost every scene since the show launched two years ago.
Playing patient instead of the hero took some getting used to, he admits.
‘‘ It was really difficult for me to be away. I’m at work 14 hours every day, and then all of a sudden you’re not at work. I got a lot of letters and messages from people saying ‘ Where are you?’ or ‘ It’s so weird not to see you in the show’. Probably the biggest thing is how responsible for
I ended up taking painkillers to get to work
the show I actually feel. I don’t know if that’s my job to feel that way or whatever.’’
Happily, O’Loughlin has some new responsibilities in his life, preparing for the birth of his second child with his partner, surfer Malia Jones (who was due at the time of publication).
His son, Saxon, 15, has moved to Oahu to attend high school and be closer to his father, who has for many years supported him from afar as the actor tried to establish his career in Hollywood.
O’Loughlin has welcomed the warm embrace of the local people.
‘‘ I feel blessed to be part of these islands and part of this culture. This is home now.’’
The prospect of parenthood the second time over has also added to his cautionary new approach to the job.
‘‘ Of course, when you become a parent you try to be a little more sensible and a little less stupid. And even before, I was trying to exercise a certain sensibility just for my own selfpreservation (but more so) after I got injured,’’ he says.
His TV character, Steve McGarrett, however, is still as intense as ever, with season three promising more shocks as he continues to pursue his father’s killer and struggles to accept the mother he thought dead for 20 years is still alive.
Doris McGarrett is played by Emmy-winner Christine Lahti.
‘‘ It’s really marvellous to work with her and she’s playing the role pitch-perfect,’’ he says. ‘‘ Christine and the other guest actors bring new flavours, a new flair and a new rhythm.
‘‘ I feel like this is our best season so far.’’
Still humming is his ‘‘ bromance’’ with co-star Scott Caan. Additional reporting:
GUY DAVIS Hawaii Five-O, Channel 10, Monday, 9.30pm Action man: Alex O’Loughlin now leaves the stunts to the stuntmen.