For someone who loves surfing as much as Scott Caan does, working on a show like Hawaii Five-0-which shoots eight months a year on location on Oahu-should be a dream. Sadly for Caan, physical pursuits have lately been more of a nightmare. “I had a pretty gnarly knee surgery after I snapped my anterior cruciate ligament in August, so I’ve been out of the water for a while,” Caan says over coffee on the mainland. Showing off a variety of scars, from his ankles to his shoulders, the actor confesses, “My whole body is a wreck. I’ve injured myself so many times with jujitsu, skateboarding, football. I guess I like to live hard.”
It’s not surprising, considering Scott, 34, is the son of legendary Hollywood tough guy James Caan (The Godfather, Misery) and spent much of his unconventional childhood inside the walls of the Playboy Mansion where his father, now 70, briefly lived. “I’d have Scott bring me girls,” James recalls with a laugh. “No one could say no to a cute little boy.” Before long Scott had decided to follow in his father’s footsteps; parts in hit movies like Ocean’s Eleven followed. Now his rough-and-tumble rep is paying off with his role as cop Danny “Danno” Williams on CBS’ hit reboot of the ’70s cop drama Hawaii Five-0. “My character’s a tough guy from New Jersey. I can’t exactly wear a dress, you know?” Scott says, laughing.
The actor says he’s not a macho man himself. “I’m actually very sensitive,” he swears. Earlier this year he wrote and starred in Mercy, an indie film about a troubled relationship. His creative streak is largely inspired by his father, whom Scott calls “one of the greatest actors of all time.” Despite his admiration, though, Scott is clear: “To say our relationship wasn’t dysfunctional would be a lie.” Raised by his mother, model Sheila Ryan, after his parents split when he was a baby, Scott “witnessed a lot of things I wish I didn’t do,” James confesses now. “He saw me when I was a little rough around the edges,” including periods when James was battling drugs. “Now,” says James, “we’re really best buddies.” Scott doesn’t hold a grudge. “I have no resentment. He made mistakes that affected him-and me-but he’s always been there for me no matter what.” Adds James: “I’m proud that he’s grown up so well.”
Perhaps because of his turbulent youth, Scott consciously avoids the same Hollywood pitfalls his dad experienced, noting that beyond a brief experimentation with drugs as a teen, he avoided substances and alcohol entirely for 14 years. “I’m not a nightclub guy at all,” he says. “I wake up at 5 a.m. every day and go to bed early.” While his friends, including his Entourage costars (he has a recurring role on the HBO comedy as talent manager Scott Lavin), are often out on the Hollywood scene, Scott prefers to stay home and write scripts-ideally ones that could star his father. “If I can see him happy, working, and be responsible for it, that will make me happy for the rest of my life,” he says.
But his grueling 12-hour days shooting Hawaii leave little time for creativity-or love. “I want to get married, but I’m always tortured in relationships,” says Scott, who previously dated Kimberly Stewart. “There are 6 billion people in the world. It’s hard to find the one person who’s right for you.” So for now, he’s just enjoying his newfound “Book ’em, Danno” success. “I caught a wave,” says the frustrated surfer. “I’ve got to ride it.”