Recently Stella Gioia, who runs the Hawaii50Italia page took a trip of a lifetime from Italy to Hawaii, and during that trip she also was surprised with a set visit and an inside look into her favorite show, Hawaii Five 0. She has provided us her account of the day in detail to share with everyone. Enjoy!
When you love a TV show, your number one wish is to breathe the same air as your favorite characters, and meet the actors who bring those characters to life.
When you’re a fangirl who lives eleven time zones away from those actors, you don’t think something like that will ever happen.
Until it does.
A few weeks ago, I had the amazing opportunity to travel to the beautiful island of Oahu for an ‘Hawaii Five 0’-themed vacation with a fellow friend and partner in crime that went well beyond my expectations. Not only was I able to visit and take pictures of numerous locations seen on the show, I was also granted a set visit at the Hawaii Film Studio where all the iconic sets are located.
The incredible feeling of being able to walk through those rooms is something I will never forget. I felt like I was really living inside the show. But let’s start from the beginning…
This is us in front of the “old” studio, the one where the original ‘Five-0’ was filmed. It now houses the McGarrett residence, the Medical Examiner’s office and the Lab. Steve’s house is the perfect replica of the real house down to the smallest details. Most of the furniture was covered to preserve it when it’s not in use, but I got the chance to sit on McGarrett’s bed and that was fangirl accomplishment #1. The bedroom itself is smaller than I expected, and I wondered how they fit all the equipment, the actors and the crew members every time.
When I visited the Medical Examiner’s office, I jumped at the opportunity to take a picture inside one of the refrigerated cells where Doctor Noelani Cunha keeps the victims’ bodies. I wanted to look like a corpse but couldn’t stop smiling so I decided to go for a different pose, and that is the result. The attention to details is impressive: everything, from the medical equipment to the books and pictures in Noelani’s office is neatly arranged and strategically placed to make it look real. It works. I felt like I was guest-starring in an episode.
I couldn’t help imagining Max Bergman sitting at the spacious desk and walking around dressed in his Halloween, Keanu Reeves-themed costumes. I’m sure those walls have seen a lot of memorable moments.
The next stop in the tour was wardrobe. A building literally stuffed with clothes, floor to ceiling. New and old, worn by every actor and guest star. They have multiple items for every piece of clothing so I couldn’t help laughing at the row of colorful Aloha shirts under Lou Grover’s name, and counted at least ten of McGarrett’s light grey shirts, the ones you see in the picture.
Still smiling from ear to ear and looking like a kid in a candy store I then proceeded to another stage, where the HQ is located. Saying I was excited would be an understatement. This was where the magic happens, where the team gathers, where personal and professional storylines intersect. This was the core of it all. I think I forgot my friend and our very nice tour guide for a moment and started wandering by myself as they talked, mesmerized by what I was seeing. 175+ episodes have been filmed in this space, and here I was, seeing it with my own eyes: the ‘Five-0’ insignia on the wall next to the entrance, the smart table, our favorite characters’ offices. This was the essence of Five-0.
Being there, I couldn’t pass the opportunity to take pictures in Steve’s very comfortable chair and couch. I took my time staring at every award, medal and citation on the wall. Our favorite Commander has an impressive military past and he proudly displays it. Lou, Tani and Danny’s offices were equally personalized and interesting, the latter displaying pictures of Grace and Charlie, a police car and a framed drawing.
Before I left HQ, I took one last picture with the 5-0 logo, featured in many episodes as well. By then I had completely lost track of time and living in my bliss-induced fangirl world. Which got even better when they showed us the interrogation room, aka the Blue Room.
If you can be excited about a single piece of furniture, that lone chair in the middle of the room was it. Countless criminals have cracked under the pressure of sitting there. Few have dared to defy our task force members. All have been brought to justice. Again, I tried to make a serious face and again, I failed. This was just too good to be anything less than elated.
Blessed as I was to be visiting those stages, I knew the best part of the visit had yet to happen. The last stop of the tour was the active set where the actors were filming.
When I learned about the set visit and realized which episode they would be filming, I couldn’t believe I would be lucky enough to be a witness to Alex O’Loughlin’s directorial debut, something both he and us fans have been looking forward to for a while. So when I entered that stage and was led to the chairs they had prepared right behind the monitors, my heart skipped a beat. I couldn’t see him anywhere but they gave me headset to listen to the dialogues and I could hear his voice from inside the room where they were filming. That gave me a few minutes to prepare myself, although the moment he stepped out of that room and into our line of sight, all the preparation in the world wasn’t enough for my fangirl brain.
I had often dreamed about this moment, wondering what it would be like to meet him. Seeing someone you’ve only seen on TV without a screen in between is a weird, difficult to explain but amazing feeling. It felt like I was acknowledging he was real. Yeah, I know, I never said my fangirl brain was smart.
Being an actor and a director, he was extremely busy. I’m sure most of you know that even filming a two-minute scene requires a lot of time and several takes. After each take, he would come out of the room to watch the scene on the monitors, and then go back to give directions to actors and crew members. He was focused, attentive and showing a lot of energy for such a demanding task.
I watched him as he consulted with the script supervisor and the director of photography, gave advices to his fellow actors and thanked everyone multiple times. It’s the little things that always made him special. I also marveled at the change in his posture and features every time Alex the Director morphed into Steve McGarrett. Such a cool thing to witness.
After one of these takes, I noticed him waving in my general direction. I was surrounded by crew members so I thought he couldn’t possibly be waving at me and just trying to get someone else’s attention. Turns out, he was trying to get my attention. And when my fangirl brain finally realized that, I waved back. Alex O’Loughlin was waving and smiling at me. My year was already made.
A few takes later, as they were setting up the cameras on the other side of the room, he walked over to where I was sitting to say hello. He held out his hand, looked straight into my eyes and said “Hi, I’m Alex.” Of course I was well aware of who he was but I thought it was really nice of him to introduce himself. And when I told him I was from Italy, he even said a few words to me in Italian. Like I said, it’s the smallest things.
Now, let me tell you, he has a very intense gaze and a strong handshake. I wasn’t able to talk much as he had a lot to do so after a few minutes he told us to sit and enjoy the visit and went back to work on the scene he was filming/directing. I wish I could remember everything that was said but this is what happens when a dream comes true. You just blank out.
The set visit was long enough to give me the opportunity to see how the filming process works, how many people are involved in it and how each and every one of them is 100% committed to making ‘Hawaii Five-0’ a success. Every crew member I met was extremely nice and welcoming, and the only other cast member on set with Alex, Ian Anthony Dale, is also a friendly and very down-to-earth person, a pleasure to chat with.
Before I left, I asked if I could take a picture with Alex. They had wrapped up the scene and were moving the equipment to a different building so I had to wait for him to finish what he was doing but he eventually came back to where I was sitting. “Sure, no problem,” he said with a smile when I thanked him for taking the time to pose for the picture. He also added ‘you’re welcome’ in Italian. Fangirl accomplishment #… 100
All in all, this has been the icing on the cake of an amazing vacation. If I was a fan of the show and Alex before, I am an even bigger supporter now.
If you’ve made it this far, mahalo for reading. I got a little carried away but wanted to share as much as I could about this great experience. From what I was able to see, Alex is just as nice as people say he is. I’m grateful to have been able to experience it myself and I wish him all the best. I’m sure there will be more directing in his future and I can’t wait to watch the episode. It looks very promising and will shed some light on one of the storylines that is currently open.
Thanks to Stella for taking the time to share her amazing experience with us in order to share with everyone. It is so great to read these types of stories from fellow fans of Alex and the show. If you ever get a chance to do it yourself, it is worth every moment.