Australian actor Alex O’Loughlin became well known in the US with his performance as Mick St John in the cult TV series Moonlight. He has just shot a pilot for a new series of Hawaii 5-0 which, if it is picked up, will premiere this fall.
In the meantime, his new movie The Back-Up Plan opens this week, in which he portrays Stan, a free spirit who owns a cheese stand at a New York farmer’s market. He meets and falls in love with Zoe (Jennifer Lopez), who had given up on finding the right man and has become pregnant through artificial insemination, which leads to many complications in their relationship.
O’Loughlin spoke of his new romantic comedy and Hawaii 5-0 at the press day for the movie.
How did you get this role?
I got a call from Alan Poul [the director] asking to meet with me. I was in Pittsburg working on another project, and I read the most recent draft of the script which is essentially the finished movie and it was excellent. Alan few to Pittsburg and we went to the Hyatt Hotel and had a coffee. He ended up offering me the film and that weekend I flew off and met Jennifer at her house, Of course having Jennifer attached was a no-brainer, not only did I know what she would bring, I knew the level the film would be delivered at.
This has the perfect arc of a romantic comedy with a wonderful balance of contemporary drama and issues that are pertinent to so many people today. You couldn’t make this movie 30 years ago, people would be like, ‘What are you talking about, what do you mean artificial insemination?’ And today I actually have friends who have gone through this, single women who have made this decision and it’s terrific.
Is this your first romantic comedy?
I’ve never done anything like this. I’m usually offered villains more than anything else. I love playing villains because I can just be evil and do whatever I want and they’re like, ‘That’s genius.’ So this was the beginning of a new stretch in my career.
What was this experience like?
Jennifer is the queen of romantic comedies. She’s so comfortable and successful in this genre. I was trained in drama, went to theatre school and I started on the stage and comedy is an essential part of what we do as actors, but I think in the grand scheme of things comedy was born from tragedy.
As an Aussie, comedy is sort of a part of my life. My friends and I are always ribbing each other and that’s how we get through the days, but when it comes to cameras rolling and getting that timing right, the only way to do it and do it well is to throw yourself into it which is what Jennifer does incredibly.
We met before we did the film, we had a cup of tea at her house, and I met the family, and we realized that we were both cool people and we got each other’s sense of humor, so we understood that we could spend a bunch of time together and not want to kill each other. And that freed us up, because the thing is, to have a friend and a comrade as our co-star, especially in a romantic comedy is really important. It gives you and the other person permission to play. I actually learned a lot about the art of romantic comedy from Jennifer during this process.
What about the love scene with Jennifer.
It was very strange for me, especially knowing Jennifer’s married. I made friends with Marc [Anthony, her husband] the same time I made friends with Jennifer. He’s a great guy. So you just kind of just plow through it and try to make it as honest as possible and then apologize profusely and get on with the rest of the film.
What do you think of the perception that Australian men are really masculine?
It’s so hard to answer because I know my mates back home are going to read whatever you guys print and they are going be like, ‘What, did you use the word rugged to describe yourself?’
I did get kind of fit for the film. Todd Black, our producer, offered me a trainer and I was like, ‘No, I’m okay.’ And he was like, ‘Take the trainer.’ So I took the trainer and I met this guy Jeff Blair who’s still with me. He was like, ‘You can’t eat anything but this; you’ve got to do what I say.’ So along with doing the film I did this disciplined workout regime, because every cheese farmer is ripped and buff and I wanted to be true to character because I’m a method actor!
What can you tell us about Hawaii 5-0?
I’ve been given direct orders not to talk about it. I’ll tell you I’m deeply grateful to live and work in this country and to the United States for opening its arms to me the way it has. I’ve been coming here for awhile now, 12 or 13 years, this country has afforded me and my family work and security and for that I’m forever grateful.
And as an extension of that, being accepted and loved to the point by you guys that I’m allowed to step into someone like Jack Lord’s shoes to play a character like Steve Garrett in Hawaii 5-0, is massive for me. It’s not lost on me, the significance of that. It’s good, it’s the biggest pilot CBS has ever shot I believe. It’s the biggest pilot I’ve ever shot. I took my shirt off and I looked like a beaten piece of beef, I’ve been beaten around the island of Oahu for a couple of week. I just came back. I’m very excited about it and I hope all the fans will enjoy what we’ve done.