May Seah of Today (Singapore) caught up with Mark Dacascos via phone interview (follow the link for the full interview):
As any Hawaii Five-O fan will tell you, there’s no villain more menacing than one named after a Chinese restaurant.
In the original series – which ran from 1968 to 1980 – the character of Wo Fat, the show’s resident evil, was named after one of Honolulu’s Chinatown eateries. Still, Mark Dacascos, who plays Wo Fat in the remake, Hawaii Five-0 (with a zero instead of an O), can’t quite imagine a credible villain named Ocean Seafood – the name of one of his favourite Chinese restaurants.
“I love Chinese food!” said the 47-year-old Hawaiian-born actor over the phone from Los Angeles. “I had Chinese food this morning. After my Muay Thai workout, I went down to Chinatown and had dim sum with some of my friends.”
As you can gather, while the original Wo Fat was bald and had a bit of a jelly belly, Wo Fat Version 2.0 – that’s Dacascos – is a ripped martial artist who’s much easier on the eyes.
“Some of my friends tell me that I’m Mo Fat. People say that I’m Lo Fat. And I hope that if I keep working out, I can be No Fat,” he joked.
And while Dacascos may look less Asian than the original Wo Fat, who personified the Red Scare fears of that American era, he is racially qualified for the role (which has been updated: Wo Fat is now a crimelord with ties to the Hawaiian Yakuza and terrorist organisations around the world).
“I was born in Hawaii but when I was six years old, we moved to Colorado, and I was the only Asian in the whole school … To be over there and then to see Bruce Lee up on the screen, it felt really good.”
It was kung fu movies that spurred Dacascos’ next drastic move. “When I was 17, I decided that I wanted to be like Jet Li in the movie The Shaolin Temple,” he recounted. “I saved up money from teaching kung fu lessons for my father. I sold my drum set and I moved to Taipei so that I could practice more martial arts with a notable Shaolin teacher there, and study Chinese, so that someday, in my mind, I could join the Shaolin temple.
“Well, I was there for six months, and my uncle, who was a Polynesian dancer, was in Taipei with his dance troupe. And I fell in love with a Hawaiian girl in the troupe! And I thought, well maybe I’m not monk material.”
Now happily married to actress Julie Condra, with an 11-year-old son, Dacascos said, “I was definitely a fan of the original Hawaii Five-O. I used to sit in front of the TV with my grandfather and watch it. I love my character. He’s a bad guy, and sometimes it’s good to be bad.”