‘Hawaii Five-0’: Daniel Dae Kim On How Far Chin Will Go To Save Sara

"Ka'ili aku" -- Five-0 races to Mexico where Chin puts his life on the line after his niece Sara (Londyn Silzer) is kidnapped, on HAWAII FIVE-0, Friday, Dec. 16 (9:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Duane "Dog" Chapman returns as himself and George Takei returns as Chin's Uncle Choi. Pictured: Daniel Dae Kim as Chin Ho Kelly and Londyn Silzer as Sara. ©2016 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved ("Ka'ili aku" is Hawaiian for "Snatchback")

What starts out as a birthday celebration for Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim) in this week’s winter finale episode of Hawaii Five-0 quickly turns to heavy drama and suspense when he gets word that his niece, Sara, has been kidnapped. (No time for birthday cake, that’s for sure!)

Chin found out last season Sara is the orphan of his long-time—now dead—nemesis Gabriel Waincroft (Christopher Sean). Viewers have seen a different side of Chin as he has come to care for little Sara (Londyn Silzer), who is his niece by marriage. (Gabriel was the brother to Chin’s wife, who died in the show’s third season.) However, a few episodes back, relatives in Mexico took legal custody of Sara and, as we’ll see in Friday’s episode when she is kidnapped, Chin’s reservations about these relatives may have been right on the money.

We talked to Kim to get a preview of the big episode as well as how it’s been for him playing a different side of a character after seven seasons.

The story with Sara and the relationship of Chin has been a really long arc, which is a bit unusual for the show.
Yeah, it’s true; it’s one of the nice things about how Five-0 as a series has developed. In the first couple of years of any show you’re spending a lot of time establishing a character [and] establishing the tone of a new show but once you get a little bit further in the life cycle you can afford to take some deeper dives into characters, into ideas and personal stories. I like this storyline a lot because even though we’ve seen a lot of Chin Ho, we’ve never seen him interact with a child in this way. And it’s the first time as an actor I’ve had a lot to do with a child actor and it’s been a thrill. The actress playing Sara, a little girl named Londyn Silzer, is really wonderful. She is incredibly professional and I genuinely enjoy my scenes with her. I feel like it’s opened up a different side to Chin Ho and to me as an actor so it’s been genuinely fun to play.

What does Sara bring out in Chin specifically?
Central to Chin’s character is this notion of loyalty. He has sacrificed himself for his team in the past so this team has been his surrogate family. It’s the natural progression of things that we see him as a father figure. In these modern times, being a father figure doesn’t necessarily mean that the child has to be yours biological. The other thing is that after the death of Malia it feels like a true life cycle has been avoided. So having Sara in his life, it was one of those things that he didn’t even realize what he was missing.

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In this episode, will we see Chin pushed to places we haven’t seen before as he tries to save Sara?
I think so. This is the first time he’s been willing to sacrifice himself over someone he loved. One of the themes that Peter [Lenkov, executive producer] has been exploring this season is the toll that the job has taken on the characters’ personal lives, and this storyline falls right in line with that. The fact that Chin may have chosen this life of high-risk and high-stakes is one thing, but Sara did not and now she’s collateral damage to something that Chin has done. That weighs on him a lot throughout this episode as well.

Chin acts on his own away from the team. Why doesn’t he take them along?
Yeah, it’s because of what you touched on earlier, that Sara takes him to a place where no one has before including his team. I know I can tell you from being a parent, when your child is in danger it’s very difficult to think rationally and not act just on parental instinct and that’s what happened with Chin. It’s not that he was trying to neglect his teammates but what he was doing was just acting as a parent and that instinct comes from somewhere deeper than just the mind.

Do you miss the Gabriel character? He’s still present in a way since he was Sara’s father and it’s a nice reminder that this story started with this villain that had a really interesting relationship with Chin.
I do miss Gabriel. The actor playing Gabriel, Christopher Sean, is fantastic. We got along really well and he was a great presence on set as well as a really talented actor. It really makes for an interesting dynamic with Sara because this little girl that Chin’s grown to love comes from his mortal enemy. [Laughs] It’s a great twist on an already good storyline.

Check out a clip from this week’s episode:


And congratulations on having a really strong fall. The ratings are great, which you don’t always see when a show has been on this long!
Yeah, they’re actually rising, which is a very strange phenomenon to see in year seven of the show. I give a lot of credit to the writers for being able to take deeper dives into the character and also adding different elements to the show. There’s a comedic element to the show that wasn’t there initially and they’re following what the actors are giving them. There’s a camaraderie on set that there has never been before. Not to say that there wasn’t camaraderie before, [but] because we’ve known each other now for so long we are comfortable with each other in a way that you cannot fake. I’m very grateful that it’s happening.

I know the show keeps you pretty busy, but do you have anything else going on?
I’m producing. I have three shows in development. One with ABC, one with CBS and another with TV Land. I have a development deal with CBS Studios and things are moving along nicely. My show at ABC is being written by David Shore of House and the show over at CBS features a Korean-American male lead, which would be the first for CBS. My company is called 3AD and we’re just really excited about the prospect for the future.

Hawaii Five-0, Fridays, 9/8c, CBS