REPORTED BY SILVIA BIZIO AND JASON BLACK | EDITED BY BRIAN BERUSCH
PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARK ARBEIT
STYLING BY: KACY BYXBEE AND YU SHING TING
MAKE-UP BY: KECIA LITTMANN OF WWW.KECIABELLA.COM
ON LOCATION AT ‘IOLANI PALACE

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Scott Caan Rises to the Occasion

SECOND-GENERATION ACTOR SCOTT CAAN is not the typical Hollywood product. That is, unlike the “trend” today, he hasn’t risen to the tabloids by tarnishing the reputation and legacy of his famous father (James Caan of The Godfather, etc.). Rather, he’s living up to it. At 35 years of age he’s the star of a weekly television show shot entirely on O’ahu. He surfs, rides motorcycles and has a girlfriend-and a dog named Dot.

The only thing he doesn’t have is a lack of charisma. Lounging on the lanai of his two-story, Mediterranean-style house nestled on the slopes of Diamond Head, we’re chatting about his role on the final season of Entourage-the HBO show about making it big in Hollywood.

Caan’s personal Entourage moment came in 1995, after landing the lead role in a film titled A Boy Called Hate, which centered on a kid recently released from juvenile hall before shooting someone. The character embarks on a cross-country motorcycle escapade with a girl, running from the law, and eventually saving her life. It was his “James Dean moment,” he shares. (He casually mentions beating out Joaquin Phoenix for the role.)

“I didn’t know if I wanted to be an actor, the guy holding a light, if I wanted to push the dolly, if I wanted to shoot or if I wanted to write. I was just like, ‘This is home. Whatever this is, whoever these people are, this group of misfits, from the grips to the writers.’ They seemed like my kind of people. I knew that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” Caan professes.

And while this might echo a likely Hollywood story, the action leading up to his foray on stage was not from any familiar playbook.

Caan was just one year old when his parents divorced (his mother, Sheila Ryan, was also an actress). His father-whose macho persona and sharp-tongued wit certainly found their way into Scott Caan’s genetic makeup-though already famous, was a very present father to Scott and his younger siblings. In fact, from the time Caan was 5 to 15 years of age, the elder Caan endured a potentially career-killing hiatus, solely to raise his kids. He certainly wasn’t above coaching Little League, by any stretch.

While his father was always supportive, it wasn’t enough to keep him from the more subversive trends of the ’80s.

At 13, he connected with local California kids he wanted to emulate.

“I hung out with kids that I thought were interesting, and they just happened to be hoodlums, B-boys, criminals, skaters and surfers,” Caan admits, even delving into all facets of the “pakalolo” lifestyle. Before long, he traded football, baseball and basketball for skating, dancing and surfing. The elder Caan wasn’t understanding.

“‘What are you doing?’ he would say to me. ‘You don’t skateboard, there’s no team. You don’t surf!’ But I was instantly drawn in. It was something you did in your own way. It was creative self-expression,” Caan says, adding: “Back then, it was punk to surf and skate. It was its own little culture. Today, 6-year-old girls from Brentwood get surfboards for their birthdays. It’s not like it used to be.”

Perhaps identifying with kids from broken homes in search of belonging to something, anything, Caan was hooked. Soon, he was hanging tough with Alan Maman (aka The Alchemist, who currently works as a DJ for Eminem). The duo began writing rap lyrics, even putting together a demo album. Before long (and thanks to a connection with legendary music producer Quincy Jones Jr.) the pair was sitting in Ice Cube’s office.

“I was like, ‘This is the coolest thing ever,'” Caan says, however, admitting that things “didn’t quite go according to plan” shortly thereafter. Caan and Maman, dubbed The Whooliganz (a YouTube search will reveal a very interesting few minutes of video footage), set out on tour with Cypress Hill and House of Pain. Caan was 16 years old.

“It’s still the best time of my life.”

Here on the set of Hawaii Five-0-where Caan plays the lead role of Danny “Danno” Williams along with special agent Steve McGarrett (Aussie actor Alex O’Loughlin)-Caan is thrilled to talk about the film Mercy, which he wrote and appeared in alongside his father.

Yet again, the development process wasn’t something that fell in Caan’s lap, as most might presume. Following the lack of success with The Whooliganz, then a few roles in early ’90s films like Last Resort and Nowhere, Caan signed up with Playhouse West, a theatre group in North Hollywood where his mom had studied years earlier. He immersed himself alongside rising stars such as James Franco and Ashley Judd, who would write scenes on a weekly basis, and perform them on the weekend.

Around this time something became clear to him; that the sharp-tongued, macho persona so eloquently exemplified by his father was also a nice fit for himself. He sold a few scripts, one of which-2003’s Dallas 363-he completed in only three weeks.

A “guys’ actor” with a soft core, Caan is involved in charity work with various organizations to help children, mainly through sports. Here, on set, he remains focused and intense, yet very polite and somehow offbeat. Off-set, he’s an admitted chain-smoker, and never parts company from “my only inseparable companion,” he states with a wink, nodding toward his trusty dog, Dot.

“I still don’t know if I want to be an actor forever,” he waxes. “There are a lot of other things I want to do, and it never feels like it’s enough.”

But acting is in his blood. He’s received commendations for his work in the Ocean’s trilogy, and cites George Clooney as one someone he greatly respects.

Back at his Diamond Head pad, we notice no shortage of cameras around. It turns out, photography-another creative outlet inspired by a gift from his dad-is another passion of Caan’s. In 2004, he decided to do a one-man show of his work, on his birthday, at a friend’s clothing store called Kingsbury, in L.A. He showed 10 prints; the next year, he returned with 20. In 2009, he collected his best images and released the coffee table book, Scott Caan Photographs Vol. 1.

“Photography is one of my favorite things because I don’t care about what it’s supposed to look like,” he says emphatically. “When you write something, 30 people are going to give you their opinions, and then you have to rewrite it. You direct something and everybody has an opinion. You produce something, it’s even worse. As an actor, you have a director telling you how to do it. Me and that thing [the camera], we’re just out there doing it. If I see a photo, and I like the way it looks, I’m going to print it.”

Following this thread of effortless rebellion, can’t-cage-me recklessness (albeit controlled), Caan is even more fanatical about surfing and motorcycles.

“There’s something about the show-off side of surfing-it’s not as fun if someone didn’t see you do it,” he smirks, walking us down to see his cherished 1960 Panhead motorcycle, as well as Alaia, a traditional wooden surfboard that is no stranger to South Shore breaks, with Caan on top of it.

“When you surf, nobody is on your back, nobody is telling you what to do. Now, I have changed-but my love for surfing is still there. That’s what I love about being in this series, living in Honolulu,” Caan says, readying to take Alaia for a paddle. “Working with a wonderful guy like Alex O’ Loughlin, life is good. We get along very well, we’re similar in a lot of ways. We have a lot to talk about off camera.”

Life in Hawai’i seems to appeal to him beyond the break, so to speak.

“There’s such a calming element, you rarely meet people who are walking around frustrated. For me, it is a completely new sensation. In the beginning, it was almost uncomfortable,” he adds, sounding a bit like his New Jersey Five-0 character, who insists on wearing dress shirts and ties on duty. “I’m used to being stressed out all the time, and feeling OK with it. But here you start to see life in a different perspective … in a relaxed way. The second I come off the plane and breathe this air I get immediately calm. This is good,” he says, almost as if he’s still trying to convince himself of the notion.

Feeling as though we’ve made significant headway during our conversation, we ventured to ask Caan how his father feels about Hawaii Five-0.

“At first he told me not to do it. He’s always honest with me,” Caan confesses. “Today, he watches an episode and says, ‘It was great,’ and then he sees another episode and says, ‘That really sucked!’ My father always taught me to do something in the best possible way, or don’t do it at all.”

Caan still misses his life in Los Angeles.

“The hustling in L.A., that energy, the feeling I have when I’m home and I just go, ‘What’s next, what’s the next job?’ I miss that. But commuting between O’ahu and L.A., I think this is a great balance for me.”

Regarding his longevity in the series, an earlier conversation resonates: “I hate simple, the same (stuff) every day. I can’t imagine how I ended up on a TV show. You know? Talk about repetitive,” Caan says.

However, as he walks across Kapi’olani Park toward Tongs surf break with Alaia in hand, a car full of young people slows down just enough to snap photos and offer words of praise to the young actor (“You’re one of us now, buddy-a local!” one says, before the car careens out of site).

If he does in fact aim to live up to the bar his father set, it’s easy to see that Scott Caan is well on his way.

About the Setting

For this issue’s cover story, we went with a bit of a vintage feel. It helped that actor Scott caan’s own personal style is a dapper mix of swagger and retro. When HILuxury was offered the rare chance to photograph on ‘Iolani Palace grounds, we jumped at the opportunity. here, we were able to showcase this historic property in a new light, with “Danno” of the Hawaii Five-0 redux running down the steps of the building that served as the Five-O headquarters in the original series. Of course, caan is familiar with the area, since the current Five-0 headquarters is just across the street, at ali’iolani hale; and production itself is down the road at 605 Kapi’olani blvd.