Alex O'Loughlin was likely just as surprised as anyone when “Hawaii Five-O” endured some very rough waves through the cast changes last summer. The Australian-born actor who portrays the daring Lt. Commander Steve McGarrett, worked for years to be part of a series with a solid foundation and strong ensemble cast. Both on-screen and off, “Hawaii Five-O” is built on the extended family feeling of “ohana,” embracing one’s “circle” as family and making sure everyone belongs.

Following the decisions by founding stars, Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park, to depart after failed salary negotiations, the fate of the show’s annual premiere tradition of “Sunset on the Beach” was in limbo.

With the arrival of new cast members, Beulah Koale as Junior Reigns, and Meaghan Rath as Tani Rey, producers, and castmates were careful to integrate the new “Five-O” team members and still pay honor to the service and history of the past.

Now that some time has passed, and the new team is settling in, Veterans Day provides the perfect timing to celebrate “Sunset on the Beach” for 2017. Alex O'Loughlin was as cordial and buoyant as ever, and full of praise for the new cast. Scott Caan showed up wearing his best “beach casual” attire and seemed excited about the season’s possibilities, and the new cast members were beyond excited just to be there.

Feeling Awestruck

Meaghan Rath had to take a few deep breaths before being welcomed by the crowd of thousands at Waikiki’s Queen’s Surf Beach for selfies, smiles, and moments with grateful fans.

The actress gushed that while she has been part of “some cult hits,” she's never been part of any show that is “a cultural phenomenon” in the way that “Hawaii Five-O” has been through two incarnations. “This is next level,” she described.

New Zealand born actor, Beulah Koale, is experiencing the joys of a breakout year. Daily life was jolting more than joyful for the 25-year-old who grew up in the “ghetto” of South Auckland, New Zealand, and stumbled on the Monday afternoon drama program.

Soon, his desire to tell “stories” through characters was even more powerful than the dream he once held to play professional rugby.

As fate would have it, Koala had just been chosen to play Tausolo Aleti in director Jason Hall's “Thank You for Your Service” around the time that “Hawaii Five-O” executive producer Peter Lenkov saw that he had the perfect authenticity for the part in “Hawaii Five-O.” For the kid who had to hustle and work any odd job just to earn money day to day, these opportunities are truly “a blessing,” as he described to the media crush at the “Sunset” event, under evening skies.

He also assures fans that he's "got a lot of stories to tell,” and some of those are reserved for special episodes of “Hawaii Five-O,” as the young star “represents the Polynesian people” with his Samoan roots.

Pastimes and predictions

Alex O'Loughlin gave exuberant praise for both new castmates, saying they are “very, very talented, and so happy to be there,” remarking that their energy makes it a pleasure to come to work every day. O'Loughlin, who describes his home of three boys as “a man factory,” declines to do the high-energy, high demand stunts that led to back injuries, painkillers, and rehab early in the early years of the show.

He has his own physical rehabilitation system at home, and “works so hard” to ensure that he can bring on the full intensity of the character he embodies every Friday.

Taking any “big hits” is no longer an option for Alex O’Loughlin, however, who looks forward to “throwing a ball with my grandson” more than anything one day.

Alex O'Loughlin was a happy escort for his canine companion, Eddie, as well as Beulah Koale for their first red carpet nights. He gave a moving speech of gratitude to the veterans and active-duty military, citing that the entire premise of “Hawaii Five-O” would never have been possible without all the “hands back” that the police drama received when seeking hands of support from actual military members. The star reiterated that he never felt “more a part of, more equal, or more welcome” in any group than with the former U.S. Navy Seals, who train with the star and lend vital expertise.

Scott Caan was content to be without his arm brace from a recent filming injury. “It’s healing nicely,” the actor reported to inquiring media. He echoed the satisfaction and pride of being part of something “that’s lasted so long.” Caan even granted an interview to Japanese media after talking about the on-screen venture of “McDanno” off-duty from “Five-O.” He enjoys sushi but confesses that “I eat some strange foods. “That’s my buddy,” he simply spoke of Alex O'Loughlin.

When prompted about a ninth “Hawaii Five-O,” neither leading man had answers. “It's something I hope producers and I can make happen," Alex O'Loughlin responded. Scott Caan redirected with, “You’ll have to ask the producers…the guys over there.”

Hope springs eternal for “Hawaii Five-O” faithful, who never want a real “Sunset on the Beach” for their beloved stars.