Jay Hernandez Talks About Directing ‘Magnum PI’, Thomas/Juliet Romance

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This week on CBS’ Magnum PIThomas gets an unexpected blast from the past when Nuzo, his beloved deceased BUDS buddy, is posthumously involved in a murder.

For Magnum this is a chance for redemptionas he couldn’t save Nuzo’s life, but can now protect his friend’s honor. Airing tonight at 9/8c, “It’s a very different kind of episode and unlike anything we’ve ever done before,” exec producer Eric Guggenheim previously told TVLine. “We think it’s going to be very special and we’re excited for everyone to see it.”

Jay Hernandez, head of the series, was behind the camera, Jay Hernandez, who spoke to TVLine about the challenges his directing presented, evoked a ‘ghost’, his thoughts on ‘Miggy’ and, perhaps most current, why he not worried about the series renewal.

TVLINE What am I hearing, someone is trying to smear Nuzo’s good name?
Someone does, but that turns out not to be the case. He just got caught up in a bad scenario. Nuzo (again played by Domenick Lombardozzi) leaves a threatening voicemail on someone’s phone, and that man is dead. Years later, the body is discovered and the message on the phone continues to haunt Magnum. He then spends the episode trying to clear his friend’s name.

TVLINE What specific challenges did this script pose for you as a director?
In terms of directing, it was challenging because we had a lot of interesting, great locations, but they were kind of all over the island. And we had a lot of water work, which is always challenging and makes the days logistically complicated to shoot. We did a lot of stuff on the water surface, I had to go down about 50 to 60 feet to get some stuff…. It was also hard because I had to focus on directing, but I was in every frame of the episode. I think there were maybe two very small scenes that I wasn’t in.

TVLINE I imagine there are also flashback-y elements in the episode?
Yeah, that was actually another piece that was in the script, it was pretty small and pretty insignificant, but we tried to take it out and make it really cool. I got the idea for the feeling of that flashback, which takes place in Afghanistan, from a documentary I came across a few years earlier called Restrepo, an outpost in central Afghanistan that was under constant attack by the Taliban. The way the shots were fired and how these soldiers passed their days was very claustrophobic and monotonous, and that monotony was broken by frenzied firefights. I tried to imitate that as much as possible. That was one of the challenges, but also one of the more exciting aspects of directing.

Magnum NuzoTVLINE There are probably as many different ways to make a flashback feel like a flashback as there are directors who have directed a flashback. “Shall I put a filter on it? Should I muzzle the sound a bit? Do I change the aspect ratio?”
Yes, those are always good discussions with your DP to capture it. It was interesting because we had this element that we’d never done on the show, which was kind of like a…. ‘ghost’ isn’t the right term for him, but Nuzo’s character comes to Thomas like this mental creation – like this “imaginary friend,” as Nuzo says. So we had to find a way to make that transition from reality to Magnum’s internal space and do it with camera work, with lighting and clearing some of the background and everything.

TVLINE Are there any developments for Thomas and Julia (played by Perdita Weeks) in this episode?
To some extent, it’s building towards something that’s going to happen in the season finale (airing on May 6). We’ve been teasing this relationship dynamic for a while and the public wants to see what’s going to happen with it. So we’re doing something with that in the final that’s quite interesting. But in the end, at least in my mind, I don’t think they should be together.

TVLINE I wanted to ask, what excites or interests you in them, maybe one day they get together, and what? to care you when that happens?
My perspective is that if that happens, it’s at the end of the show. Not the end of the season, but the end of the whole show. So I don’t think it will happen anytime soon. I think the tension and the dynamics between Higgins and Magnum is a big part of why the show works, and if you take that away and they become a couple, the show loses a lot and would change in so many different ways. So yeah, I feel like we’d be robbing ourselves of some great stuff if we started that too early.


TVLINE The NCIS kids recently came to your place for a little crossover with NCIS: Hawaii† Who would you like to cross-over with next?
I don’t know. I mean we did it with Hawaii Five-O [in Season 2] and that was a lot of fun. But I don’t know how these worlds interact [these days]† So I’ll leave that to the professionals. †

TVLINE I was just wondering if you had any friends on any of the other CBS casts you’d like to work with.
Well, Will (NCISWilmer Valderrama) is one of my best friends. I know Wil forever, and it would be pretty nice to have him on the show.

TVLINE And how is it looking Magnum PI Season 5?
Oh, we’re good. We are made of gold. I think you can count on that.

TVLINE The whole Hawaii thing probably helps. CBS seems to like having one or two shows there at some point.
Yes, it is solid. The numbers are great, it travels well internationally…. So yeah, I think we’re in good shape. And you know what, they’re happy with the show. They loved this season, many of the stories they were really digging. And they liked the episode I directed so much that I’ve already been asked to direct another next season.

TVLINE Finally, here’s an atypical question someone emailed my scoop column. Lauren asks, “How come Magnum never wears a seat belt while driving?”
I do! I love that you asked this one. So I to do wear the seat belt, I just put it under my shoulder. And that’s on me, not Magnum, because I’m contrarian and don’t like weird, arbitrary rules. I was like, “Why can we carry guns and shoot people, but you make me wear a seat belt when I get in the car…?” This is my way around that, see what I mean? But technically I have to do wear the seat belt.

Want to brag? Magnum PI, or for another show? Email InsideLine@tvline.com and your question can be answered through Matt’s Inside Line.

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