Meet Tim Kang, who plays Detective Gordon Katsumoto on Magnum P.I., available on NBC Sunday nights at 9pm.
Neil Bui: Hi Tim, my name is Neil. I’m with Dorkaholics.com. Pleasure to be speaking with you today.
Tim Kang: Thanks for having me!
Neil Bui: Of course. First I’d like to ask you, what was your familiarity with Magnum P.I. prior to coming onto the project?
Tim Kang: I was a huge fan of the original, the Tom Selleck version. I remember as a kid staying up and watching the original. So, when this opportunity came around I was obviously ecstatic. It was a chance to at least in a lateral way be a part of this show that I grew up with, and it’s been a blast, since we started in 2018 and we’re still going strong.
Neil Bui: I understand there was a network shift between the last season and the current season. Besides the complication that might have stirred in the uncertainty, now with the new network was there anything that you’re looking forward to this season that fans and audiences can look forward to?
Tim Kang: We’ve been on this journey with Katsumoto from a by the book kind of police officer (duty, honor) and he really looks at the world through a very specific lens. I think we’ve slowly been kind of widening that worldview and this season we really get a chance to watch Katsumoto bloom into someone that isn’t so rigid in a lot of the ways that he’s done things in the past. So, it’s a lot of fun watching that change because it’s not always a smooth change. There’s a lot of bumps in the road along the way but it’s a lot of fun watching it happen.
Neil Bui: How would you say this role is impacting Asian representation in the media for the better?
Tim Kang: Well first and foremost, growing up I didn’t have anything like this as I was a TV fan or a movie fan. Obviously we’re in a different place now and it’s a much better place. I think the character is portrayed as a competent, strong individual. I think it’s a strong portrayal and it’s a positive portrayal and it’s something that I would have loved to see when I was a kid growing up. But I’m blessed and have the honor of actually playing it as an actor, it’s been a blessing all around.
Neil Bui: For fans that need that extra push, what do you say they can look forward to in giving this series a chance?
Tim Kang: Anybody that approaches the show with a “I love the original, it better be like the original” that’s not what it’s going to be. We’ve taken a lot of the great things of the original, a lot of the spirit of the original and made it our own. So, you have to keep an open mind when you’re approaching it with respect to that. As far as the show itself, it’s like everyday life, it’s like your life, it’s like friends and family, and what happens. It’s not just a procedural crime of the week kind of thing, we delve into a lot of families and the word we use here in Hawaii is Ohana/family. And the concept of that goes beyond blood relatives. We end up really learning a lot more about these characters in their behind the scenes stuff rather than “oh I got to solve this crime” or “I got to figure out who the killer is.” It’s a fun ride to be on, you don’t have to be a fan of the original to appreciate it. And I think if you do give it a chance and are a fan of the original, you can appreciate us in a slightly different way.
Neil Bui: What do you hope that audiences take away after watching the series?
Tim Kang: Well, I mean aside from the surface entertainment of it because that’s sort of first and foremost our goal, it is for it to be fun, for it to be entertaining. I think it is that concept of Ohana because I mean especially in this day and age, we step over people all the time. We don’t take care of our fellow man and that as I’m going to go back to it again, that concept of Ohana that we try to espouse, we try to promote, is about taking care of each other. It’s that human family that we’re trying to cultivate, loving relationships with our human family and I think the world at this point is lacking that quite a bit obviously. And what the takeaway from that would be we can try a little bit better every day.
Neil Bui: What has been your favorite part of the season so far, whether it’s an episode or a scene, whatever you are allowed to and can share with us?
Tim Kang: It’s been the whole journey. I know that’s a little vague to say but it has been the whole journey because all the great stuff doesn’t happen overnight, right? Developing and watching Katsumoto or at least portraying Katsumoto and experiencing that development has been the most fun. It’s something that I as an actor playing this part haven’t done in prior seasons, so it’s new territory for me, it’s new territory for the character, and certainly it’s new territory for the audience. It’s been a lot of fun and you’ll see.
Neil Bui: Any fun stories between you and the other cast members, along the way, just filming in Hawaii with your Ohana?
Tim Kang: Obviously, we have tons of fun on set. We’re always laughing and stuff and really making each other laugh and smile. There was one thing that occurred on a show that just aired. Katsumoto is a bodyguard, he’s out of work, and so he’s just trying to pick up work from whatever he can do, and he ends up being a bodyguard for a K-pop star. I think that just aired actually. And I remember when I was shooting that scene, there’s a scene where somebody comes out and tries to harm the protectee and Katsumoto jumps in there and disarms him etcetera. But while we were shooting that, during one of the takes I split my pants wide open and there was nothing left to the imagination. It was quite embarrassing; we all had a nice chuckle, and the even funnier thing was they did not have another pair of pants for me. So, I ended up doing probably 10-12 more takes with a pair of split pants and it was an experience to say the least.
Neil Bui: Sounds like it’s definitely worth a rewatch.
Tim Kang: It was one of those things and let’s put the camera a little bit higher, let’s get that out of the shot.
Neil Bui: Thank you for sharing that story. What’s a memorable episode from past seasons that’s really worth watching, you would say it’s iconic for you and your character?
Tim Kang: I forget which season; I want to say after we’ve done almost 100 of these. It was an episode where Katsumoto comes to terms with how he separated from his sister who has passed away. And that episode for me, it was a lot more than I could really sink my teeth into. I wish I could remember the title; I apologize. But that episode was a lot of fun to do as an actor and it just sticks in my mind as one that I won’t forget.
Neil Bui: Coming across to Magnum P.I., I was taken aback by like “oh wow the flash, pizazz, the James Bond-vibe in Hawaii mashup” but there certainly are those moments where it dives a little deeper where you can have as you’re saying like a little bit more to bite off of and that’s something that I think is really great for the series. What is one of the deeper topics that this season is gonna explore?
Tim Kang: As far as the season as a whole and I keep going back to it because that’s kind of what the show’s about and we just kind of try to do it, is that theme of families, taking care of each other. There aren’t these huge revelations, we’re not trying to stand on a soapbox and try to be preachy and give out these revelations. It’s really about family and taking care of each other and I think the entire season so far, we just keep that in mind. And I think you can set your watch to it. Every episode touches on that theme over and over and over and I think it’s an important one and deserves to be touched on over and over and over. Family, taking care of each other, that’s it.
Neil Bui: I’m definitely looking forward to seeing the rest of the season but thank you so much for your time today Tim, I really appreciate it!
Tim Kang: Thank you for having me, I appreciate it!
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