LOS ANGELES — New Zealand native Martin Henderson knew going in that starring in Off the Map, the latest series from Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes, ran the risk of him losing his shirt more often than not, but that didn’t dissuade him from taking the gig.
Henderson spoke with Metro about working in Hawaii, keeping his accent and arguing for more wardrobe.
How has shooting in Hawaii been?
I feel very blessed to be there. Who knows for how long? Hawaii offers for me a very unique balance between what I'm used to in New Zealand. It's America, but with the Hawaiian culture and Hawaiian people, very similar to the Maori, and there's a lot of their sensibility and their spirit. I feel very at home there instantly. So I'm really happy. I'm learning to surf, which is the coolest thing, which I recommend to everybody. I love it.
The show starts with the words, "Somewhere in South America." Why not choose a specific country?
I don't know the answer to that question. I don't know why they chose to make it generic. I initially thought it was in Peru, only because there's ocean and jungle. So it was coastal, and I figured maybe that was where they had set it. But the reason for keeping it general, I don't know.
Going into a Shonda Rhimes show, are you at all worried about how often you’ll have to go without a shirt?
If you’re a man, yeah. There's that element. To be honest, there's been one or two times where it's been suggested that maybe I would be shirtless in the scene, and I've managed to convince them through reasoning that would not be logical. I think as long as the circumstances warrant it, then I think it's not gratuitous. I may lose that fight, though, every now and again.
With the increase of American shows shooting in Hawaii, is Hawaii becoming the new Canada?
If there was jungle in Canada, I bet we would be there. And I'm really glad there's no jungle in Canada. No offense to Canadians, but I'm very happy being in Hawaii. There was talk of some other places they were doing budgets for and looking up in the lead-up to shooting, but Hawaii presented the best backdrop, and I think it's so naturally beautiful, almost as beautiful as New Zealand. And I did suggest we shoot it in New Zealand, quite seriously.
Were you excited that you got to keep your accent for the show?
I was. When I first met Shonda about the show, she said it will be shooting in Hawaii, which sounded good, but I really thought I wanted to be here in L.A. where my home was. Then she said, “You get to keep your own accent.” I thought that was a done deal. She meant it, but I think the network weren’t so sure that a total New Zealand accent would work, just from being able to understand it.
So they did ask you to articulate?
Yeah. I pretty much talk in the show how I do in real life, which is quite American. In New Zealand, people think I've got an American accent, and in America, people think I've got a New Zealand accent, so it's kind of a bit of both.