Skip to menu.
Cary Tagawa Online since 1997


Johnny Kapahala: Back on Board : A New Wave : June 2007

Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, who brought to life "Johnny Tsunami," the legendary Hawaiian surfer dude grandpa in the sleeper hit 1999 cable movie, takes his character to an even more unconventional level in the Friday-debuting "Johnny Kapahala: Back on Board." The Disney Channel flick also has 22-year-old Brandon Baker returning to star as his all-grown-up super athlete grandson.

"I was shocked when I found out: Grandpa is getting married — and by the way, she's Caucasian," recounts Tagawa, who made the Johnny T. part, once intended for the late Pat Morita, very much his own. The actress turned out to be red-haired, beautiful 35-year-old Robyn Lively. "I would have thought they'd get someone a little less sexy for a grandfather, but she's great," he says. Tagawa notes that they're a typical couple for Hawaii, but not Hollywood. Here, "Typically for Asian men, we don't get roles where we're with women who are sexy or in any way attractive. But the writers had a definite idea of what they wanted. From an actors' standpoint, I was very excited at the possibilities, knowing the implications of what this would mean historically."

However, "We did not play it like it was anything extraordinary," says the "Last Emperor" and "Mortal Kombat" actor. Plus, he points out, "The whole key to this movie is mountain boarding."

The Tokyo-born Tagawa is certainly no stranger to traversing cultural lines. "My dad was in the military for 20 years, stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Sill, La.; and Fort Hood, Texas. That was very strange and different after living in Japan till I was 5. It was also very strange and different for a Japanese family to drive all the way across the country in a '56 Chevy," adds Tagawa, who now lives in Hawaii. Sounds like a movie in itself."

Johnny Kapahala: Back on Board   |  Back to News