How Hawaii Five-0’s Daniel Dae Kim Responded After Finally Landing TV Lead After 31 Years

Daniel Dae Kim has been a mainstay on television for a long, long time. He’s had major roles in Hawaii Five-0, Lost, 24 and so many more--to the point where you probably couldn't name them all. However, what all of those gigs have in common is that they have been prominent roles in ensemble dramas where Kim has never been the main person on the posters or the first person on the call sheet. Now however, that’s changing, as Daniel Dae Kim has landed his first starring role on TV.

It only took the actor 31 years -- as he wryly noted in a celebration post -- but Daniel Dae Kim is set to headline the new installment of The Hot Zone, a National Geographic series that looks into diseases in the world in an anthology format. It’s also the first time Kim will be the official lead in a television series, as he himself noted on Twitter.

Hardly the biggest news given what’s going on in the world today. But after 31 years of working in TV, this is my first series lead.

Daniel Dae Kim is set to star in The Hot Zone: Anthrax for Nat Geo. Scandal’s Tony Goldwyn will also star in the series. In an announcement, Nat Geo says the new season of the show will be set just after the events of 9/11 but will still be “timely,” given it will follow the country facing a National threat. The series will be a fictionalized version of the true events that did happen in 2001 leading to the deaths of five people.

Principal photography on Season 2 of The Hot Zone is expected to start this winter, though there’s no mention of when we will actually see the series on the network. Season 1 aired in 2019. Returning from the first season will be executive producers Kelly Souders and Brian Peterson.

The first season of The Hot Zone was set in 1989 and followed the story of the threat of an Ebola disease that was being studied in primates. Julianna Margulies, Noah Emmerich and Topher Grace starred in the first installment. It did well enough that Nat Geo ordered a second season and the rest is history.

As for Daniel Dae Kim, the actor was memorably a star on Hawaii Five-0, though he and fellow co-star Grace Park left the series before it ended on CBS. There was a dispute over pay between the two actors and the network, with reports mentioning Kim and Park wanted pay parity with two other starts on the show, Scott Caan and Alex O'Loughlin. CBS said the network offered raises, but declined to reach those requests and the two ultimately left the show. So Daniel Dae Kim’s comment about being a lead ties back in some ways to not being seen as a lead on that ensemble show.

Meanwhile, Daniel Dae Kim knows firsthand there’s bigger stuff to contend with in the world right now. The actor was one of the first to admit he’d struggled with Covid-19 early on in the pandemic and even shared his experiences with the medicine he received when he was sick. It's been a long year and not simply due to the pandemic, but now it seems there's at least good news for Kim's career. We wish the actor the best as he jumps into The Hot Zone: Anthrax. May his first leading role in 31 years on television lead to many more.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Jessica Rawden is Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. She’s been kicking out news stories since 2007 and joined the full-time staff in 2014. She oversees news content, hiring and training for the site, and her areas of expertise include theme parks, rom-coms, Hallmark (particularly Christmas movie season), reality TV, celebrity interviews and primetime. She loves a good animated movie. Jessica has a Masters in Library Science degree from Indiana University, and used to be found behind a reference desk most definitely not shushing people. She now uses those skills in researching and tracking down information in very different ways.