Did you know the modern 'Hawaii Five-0' brought back Jack Lord via CGI?

By: H&I Staff     Posted: December 7, 2022, 3:00PM   

Bill Murray turned up in a recent Ghostbusters reboot. Erik Estrada popped up in 2017's CHIPS as a paramedic. It's a common trope in reboots — get an original star to make a cameo. So it is only natural that CBS's current hit Hawaii Five-0 would want a cameo by Jack Lord, the iconic star of the original 1968 series Hawaii Five-O.

There's just one problem. Jack Lord died in 1998.

Nevertheless, when the modern Hawaii Five-0 made its seventh season premiere last fall, a surprising face turned up. While recovering after a liver transplant, Steve McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin) visits the chapel in the Tripler Army Medical Center. There he meets a shadowy figure with a haircut like a crashing wave.

"My wife's in surgery," the stranger announces. "…What happened to you?" The figure moves into the light — and it is Jack Lord! Well, Jack Lord–ish.

"Work-related injury," McGarrett says.

"If you don't mind me asking, why type of work do you do?" the elder man asks. Naturally, he confesses, "I was a cop, too. A long time ago."

Of course, there could not be two Steve McGarretts running around. The script for the episode, "Makaukau 'oe e Pa'ani?", refered to the character as "Jack Lord." Despite nearly half a century passing since the original series aired, the man looks about the age of Jack Lord in Hawaii Five-O. The producers recreated the deceased actor through CGI. The story behind the cameo, as told by Entertainment Weekly, is rather interesting.

“I originally conceived of the idea — a scene between McGarrett and Jack Lord — to be the final scene in the series," executive producer Peter M. Lenkov explained to EW. However, with the show being such a smash, he wasn't sure if he had the patience to wait. He wanted to be the first to pull off such a trick on a network show.

In order for CBS to pull off the effect, first, it needed permission from Jack Lord's estate. Oddly, that just so happens to be a bank, which asked to read the script. The digital effects team at Counter Punch Studios then set forth on crafting a CGI model of Lord's face. The techs used footage from Hawaii Five-O's final season, which originally aired in 1979–80, as a model. A largely unknown actor by the name of Kenneth Matepi acted as a body double for the onscreen "Jack Lord." The CGI rendering of Lord was mapped to Matepi's face.

As for the voice? That was Cam Clarke, a voice-over veteran who has done everything from Leonardo in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to video games.

The final scene lasts about two-and-a-half minutes. Countless hours of labor went into it. The greater question is, is this worth it? Disney brought back a computerized Peter Cushing for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. It seems as if we're on the cusp a widespread trend.

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