An Exclusive Interview with HAWAII FIVE-0’s Wo Fat, Mark Dacascos
Mark Dacascos (Wo Fat) is a delight.
When I spoke with him about his work on Hawaii Five-0, as well as his work in feature film, Dacascos was both charming and forthcoming.
If you’ve watched either the original or reboot Hawaii Five-0, you’re familiar with McGarrett’s archenemy.
At the end of Season Three of the reboot, we left Wo Fat and McGarrett at an undisclosed location where Wo Fat was being held prisoner under heavy, heavy guard. Someone (we don’t know who), after shooting their way into the facility, was entering the chamber where Wo Fat was being held. McGarrett had come to find out why his mother paid Wo Fat a visit. As the final scene faded, Wo Fat told McGarrett he was the only one who could save him from whoever was on the other side of that door.
Now, as CBS has recently announced Season Four will be hitting the airwaves on September 27, I thought it might be an excellent time to speak with Mark Dacascos, the actor who portrays the villain so well.
“I love the original Wo Fat,” Dacascos began, “but I don’t have inspiration from that Wo Fat to my Wo Fat. It’s a different story, and it’s written differently, so I’m only trying to do what I can from the inside out by what’s given to me storywise. The Wo Fat that I’m doing is based off the material, based off the relationship that he has with Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and Doris McGarrett (Christine Lahti). I’m building Wo Fat’s character off of the material and the way the actors are playing their characters, in relationship to that.”
Viewers are curious to know what might happen in that premiere of Season Four. “I don’t know too much more – a little bit more – but not too much more than the audience. Peter (Lenkov, Executive Producer), at least with me, is very cryptic in terms of where the story is going. He’s given me bits and pieces, enough for me to formulate a backstory of Wo Fat that I can hang some flesh on. But, in terms of what’s going to happen in the future, he’s very secretive and keeps me guessing. But, we left the audience hanging, didn’t we? I wanna know what’s going on too! I was excited about that episode all the way through. Of course, Alex is a great McGarrett. He carries the show, and I think he does a wonderful job. And, the big question for me is the same as for the audience – ‘What’s the relationship between McGarrett and Wo Fat?’”
Dacascos has sometimes been able to insert a few of his own ideas into the character. When Wo Fat was in jail in the finale, his left side scarred horribly, the twitching of his hand was Dacascos’ idea. “It’s like a collaborative effort between Peter, the writer, the Director, and myself,” he said when we chatted. “We all have little bits and pieces that we add. As an actor, I’ll try little things and if the Director likes it, usually he says nothing. That means we keep going. And if he wants to change it, he’ll say ‘don’t do this, do less of that, more of this.’ I’m friends with Peter, so usually before we do the episode, I’ll ask him if there’s anything in particular that he’d like me to do. It’s not like I can change him from episode to episode. When I come in, I have to have a really strong idea of what I’m gonna do with him. Even in the episodes that Wo Fat is in, the scenes are very intense. I have to have a really strong point of view, whether I physicalize it or not. I have to have it internally. After all, he is the nemesis for the overall series, and there’s something very personal between he and McGarrett. It’s tricky. But he’s a fun character to play.”
Does Dacascos have a favorite Wo Fat episode? He does. “I really like the fight scene I had with Terry O’Quinn (Joe White) in “Ka Hakaka Maikai” (The Good Fight) from Season Two, when I confront him in his apartment. He tried to pull a gun out of his freezer, and I’ve already taken the bullets out. He surprised me with knowing something about Shelburne. We have this fight scene. I love the energy that Terry brought into that scene, and I love the dynamic and the relationship we have. We did a fight rehearsal, and we put the choreography together one day prior to shooting it. And then Terry learned it all in one day. Of course, he’s a fantastic actor.”
Dacascos is a great actor as well, with many films and other projects in the past as well as the future.
One release is The Lost Medallion, just released to DVD and Blu-ray on May 21. Dacascos plays “the evil King Cobra,” which he described with a laugh as “a kind of Wo Fat in the past.” He said, “It’s a fun adventure with lots of action. It also has a good moral story that would be good for kids and adults alike. I would take my own kids to see it.” Basically the story is about a group of foster children who find a medallion that helps them realize their value to God and see how much He loves them. The project was shot in Thailand about 2 ½ years ago.
Another project Dacascos shot about a year and a half ago in Virginia is To Have and to Hold, set for a 2014 release date. “The story takes place around one of the many battles for Jamestown,” said Dacascos. “I play a character named Nantauguas, who is actually a historical figure. He was one of the older brothers of Pocahontas. We just recently did my ADR work for it maybe just about a week ago. I haven’t seen the movie from beginning to end, but I saw one of the fight scenes, and it looks beautiful. Since I haven’t seen it, I can’t tell you whether or not I’d recommend it, but I hope so.”
And, Mark can be seen this fall playing Kung Lao in the next installment of the hugely popular franchise Mortal Kombat: Legacy for Director Kevin Tancharoen.
There’s no doubt Dacascos will, hopefully, continue to share his talent as an actor with us for a very long time.
Cheryl has been a freelance TV/film writer for more than 10 years. Simultaneously, she has worked in PR for Bon Jovi Productions in NYC, PolyGram Records (also in NYC), and Rogers & Cowan Public Relations. Cheryl has published articles at suite101.com, “Sci-Fi Entertainment” magazine, and “Soap Opera Weekly.” She was also a credited researcher for English author Denis Meikle’s JOHNNY DEPP: A KIND OF ILLUSION. Cheryl enjoys writing for the entertainment industry and meeting new people. She is also an animal lover.