There are two things you’re not going to hear from hunky Aussie actor Alex O’Loughlin. One is whether or not he wears a suit and tie as the new Steve McGarrett of CBS’s updated “Hawaii Five-0” series. The other is anything negative about his “The Backup Plan” leading lady, Jennifer Lopez.
Given that the Friday 4/23)-opening romantic comedy is a big screen Big Break for the former “Moonlight” and “The Shield” actor, and we’re seeing his handsome puss all over billboards and buses, it would be pretty surprising if he dissed La Lopez, who has been notorious for her diva ways in the past. But he goes so far as to tell us, “It’s surprising to hear it mentioned as much as I have because she was perfect — on set, and off. It’s difficult to imagine the woman I know and worked with fitting this description. I found her selfless, always thinking about the people around her. Professional. A great, hands-on mother as well. If you’re looking for dirt, you’re not going to find it here.”
O’Loughlin notes that Lopez had her two-year-old boy and girl on the set of the feature, in which she plays a single woman who decides to have a baby via sperm donor, only to fall in love when she is already pregnant. “I didn’t know her before the twins, so I hesitate to guess, but I would imagine that this is the final element in her life that makes her the woman she was destined to be. Children are the ultimate definition of who we are as humans, after all,” says the single actor. “She’s amazing.”
He’s finding his current whirl “surreal” – and admits he gets a bit homesick. “I feel like I’m always away from my family. I spend more money on travel than anything else, flying around the world to see the people I love or bringing them to me. Sometimes I wish I had become a banker or a builder to keep me in one spot.”
If the new “Hawaii Five-0” – for which the pilot has already been completed – does indeed get picked up for fall, he plans to commute between L.A. and the islands. As for differences between the vintage Jack Lord-starrer and his version, O’Loughlin says, “It’s interesting going back, looking at it now. The original show is pretty dated. We’re doing a much more contemporary show.”
And his wardrobe? “I’m not telling.”
OFF-BALANCE: “Dancing With the Stars” pro ballroom dancer/choreographer Louis Van Amstel weighs in on the recurring complaint over pitting contestants with dance know-how against raw newcomers. “I have always defended the dance-trained celebrities,” says Van Amstel, who previously worked with names including Lisa Rinna and Kelly Osbourne, and this season is teamed with funny lady Niecy Nash. “In the end, they may have the advantage with the judges, but they also have more pressure from the audience because everyone knows their dance backgrounds and expects more of them. Those who don’t have the dance training – people root for them because they’re the underdogs.”
Still, it has to be intimidating for Niecy and the other untrained dancers to go up against Olympic Gold Medal-winning figure skater Evan Lysacek, one-time cheerleader Erin Andrews of ESPN, and Pussycat Dolls leader Nicole Scherzinger. “Nicole is hot, hot, hot and so good at what she does,” appreciates Van Amstel. He adds, “You need the good ones to give the audience something to watch while the others are learning.”
GOOD FANS TO HAVE: Dean Norris has garnered a fan following among cops, thanks to playing Hank Schrader, the DEA agent brother-in-law of Bryan Cranston’s methamphetamine-dealing ex-science teacher character on “Breaking Bad.”
“We have cops on location and they’re always coming up tome and talking. These cop magazines have asked me to write little pieces for them,” notes Norris, who also has a series of “Cop Talk” satirical videos on the internet that he made with a couple of cop buddies.
So it will be interesting to see what kind of reaction he gets as this season continues to unfold, with Hank undergoing changes. “The first couple seasons of ‘Breaking Bad,’ Hank was more of a comedic character. They established him as a blowhard, funny guy. This season, they’ve definitely taken him to the dark side.”
And it’s been demanding. Notes Norris, “Bruises are definitely part of the gig.” That was especially true when he shot the episode in which “I got to mix it up with Keith Jardine, the famous Mixed Martial Arts fighter – he and I got to tangle. He’s a super nice guy but there’s an aura about him that he could decide to punch you in the head and knock your brains out.” What did he think of Jardine’s performance? “I thought he was good,” says Norris. “He didn’t have to say a lot.” Yep, getting one’s head slammed on the floor doesn’t require much acting technique.
BORDER CROSSING: Shawn Ashmore – Iceman to “X-Men” fans – is getting ready for “Mariachi Gringo,” an indie flick about a guy who feels “stifled by the complacency” in his small town, per casting notices. His solution: setting off for Mexico to become a member of a Mariachi band. Amy Madigan is also in the movie, along with Martha Adriana Barraza.
With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster