Did you know the modern 'Hawaii Five-0' brought back Jack Lord via CGI?
It took a body double, a voice-over actor and countless computer techs to revive the original Steve McGarrett.
Image: CBS Television
Bill Murray turned up in the recent Ghostbusters. Erik Estrada popped up in this year's CHIPS as a paramedic. It's a common trope in reboots — get an original star to make a cameo. It's why there's an online petition to get Lynda Carter in an upcoming big-screen Wonder Woman role. So it is only natural the 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.