ONE WEST WAIKIKI and THE SENTINEL - getTV Interview with Richard Burgi
getTV revamped its weekday schedule just in time for summer, and Richard Burgi stars in two of its hottest shows - One West Waikiki and The Sentinel. We recently sat down with the actor to discuss his always busy career, laughing with co-stars, and how Hawaii and Vancouver hold special places in his heart.
Richard, you started your career in daytime drama with a couple of the biggest shows – Another World and Days Of Our Lives. I think people underestimate how challenging those shows are for actors, from the pace to the amount that has to be memorized each day. What’s something you learned from working on them?
In daytime, I learned how to memorize a lot of material in a short period, and always applied what I had learned in class regarding reacting and intention. I have more respect for daytime actors than in most other forms because of the way they bring to life such stilted material.
Since then, you’ve done a lot of crime-based shows – from One West Waikiki and The Sentinel to series like CSI and Law & Order: SVU. Is this a favorite genre of yours?
I enjoy the procedural format because of elements the viewing public has on actual forensic processes embedded in the show. For the most part, the writers work hard to portray nuanced characters that are revealed in a relatively short time. I am fascinated by the multitude of characteristics inherent in human beings.
One West Waikiki was your first leading role on television. How did the opportunity come about?
In 1988, I auditioned for a pilot of Glen Larson in New York, and began a long friendship with Glen up to his death in 2014. The pilot aired as "Chameleons" on NBC but didn't get picked up. One West Waikiki came after a few other shows that I did not get.
Let's take a moment to talk about Glen. He's a giant in television - he produced shows like Magnum, P.I., Knight Rider, and many more in addition to One West Waikiki. What did he mean to you personally and professionally?
Glen and I had a lot of admiration for each other. He loved music and art, sports, family and friends, was a great singer, and was really smart. We had a lot of laughs over the years. He gave me a lot of freedom, and always told me I was the only actor he let improvise because I always gave him what he wrote and more. He knew I always wanted what was best for the show. He was the most loyal and generous producer I have worked for in 30 years of this business. I am grateful to have known him and miss his friendship.
We all love Cheryl Ladd from Charlie's Angels. What was it like working with her on One West Waikiki?
Cheryl Ladd was a consummate pro. She may have been underestimated for being on Charlie’s Angels, but she had great chops as an actress and was a pleasure to work with. Plus she is beautiful. She had a great strength of character and resolve that was wrapped up in a classy, intelligent, and kind demeanor.
Did you move to Hawaii to shoot?
I had a house in the Diamond Head area on Oahu. Cheryl and her husband Brian (who was a musician and songwriter) would come along with Glen and the legendary Don Ho and a host of others. We would have jam sessions and sing-alongs until the cops were called in to shut us down.
What a great time! On that note, let's talk surfing. Did that interest start while you were working on this series?
There was a great beach across the street where I swam, snorkeled, and started surfing. I loved living in Hawaii. I had a ton of fun with the crew, some HPD detectives who were part of the security detail for the show, and the amazing Tom Moffatt. Tom was an old pal of Glen’s from the time Tom brought over The Four Preps (Glen was in the band) in the sixties. He also brought the likes of Elvis, The Stones, and countless other luminaries to Hawaii as a concert promoter and producer. He was a great man and became dear friend of mine. He passed away in January. We shot the show all over the island as well as New Zealand and Western Samoa. Such an amazing journey.
It sounds like it. Then how did the opportunity to be on The Sentinel come about?
Not too long after One West Waikiki wrapped, I auditioned for Danny Bilson and Paul DeMeo-the creators of The Rocketeer and the original Flash on CBS. I didn't get the job as The Flash, but started a relationship with them that would span work on their shows that included The Flash, Viper, and then ultimately The Sentinel.
What drew you to the role?
We shot The Sentinel in Vancouver. We tried to do a mini action movie a week. Every episode had explosions or shootouts, a chase scene, fight scene, and usually some romantic entanglement. I did a fair amount of stunts, but had a great stunt double that made me look rather studly. I had the good fortune of working with Bruce Young and Garrett Maggart, two terrific people and actors. There were also so many great guest stars that came through over the course of almost four years on the show [including everyone from Robert Vaughn to Michael Peña]. I had cuts, bruises, chipped teeth and stitches plus a multitude of challenges from so many long hours and stunts, but had an altogether amazing experience on the show.
Wow. Obviously a very physical job. What more on that aspect of the show can you share?
The craziest was when we blew out almost an entire block of downtown windows because the explosives coordinator put a wee bit too much charge in his detonation. We also had so many laughs on the set, and spent a lot of time making the scripts work and come to life. You can find Sentinel out-takes and bloopers on YouTube from all the on-set shenanigans. I loved living in Vancouver and would jump at it again someday if the opportunity arose. The crew was amazing, and the city and surrounding areas has so much to offer. I am still close to a lot of the folks in Canada that were involved with the show. My oldest son was born there so the city has a special place in my heart.
You have so many fans - I know they'd love to hear what you're working on now.
I am currently betwixt and between jobs yet producing some mini movies for The Center for Natural Lands Management (CNLM) - an environmental organization whose board I am a member of - as well as trying to push forward a couple of other scripts and projects for film and TV.
We have no doubt we'll be seeing more of you soon. In the meantime, we love that you're on these two great shows on getTV. Thank you so much for joining us!
One West Waikiki airs every weekday Monday through Friday at 1:00 pm ET. The Sentinel immediately follows at 2:00 pm ET. You can read even more on the new summer schedule on the getTV blog.