EXCLUSIVE! Matthew Sato talks Doogie Kamealoha, M.D.
We can't get enough of Matthew Sato—and love watching him as Kai in Doogie Kamealoha, M.D., streaming now on Disney+. We got *all* the behind-the-scenes deets from Matt (plus, found out his dream future role)...
GL: What's the show all about?
Matthew: It's a reboot of the nineties classic show Doogie Howser, M.D.—I play Kai, Lahela (aka Doogie)'s older brother. It's all about Lahela's coming-of-age story, being a doctor and a teenager at the same time. I'm kind of her teenage mentor. Since she's busy being an adult all the time, I can teach her to be the ultimate teenager.
The original show was so popular so it's cool that we can put our own spin on this version. It's female-led now, which is huge, and it's also Hawaii-based. I feel like a lot of people are going to get to see how beautiful the islands are and how beautiful the culture is.
GL: How do you relate to Kai?
Matthew: He's super relatable. Kai's a free-spirited, chill surfer dude. He doesn't care to impress anyone or know what's popular or anything like that. He just kind of rides his own wave. Kai and Lahela really balance each other out. He can be the comedic relief in one scene and be series the next, which is really fun to play. He's still figuring it all out for himself.
GL: What was it like filming in Hawaii?
Matthew: It was crazy because I was born and raised in Hawaii and I moved to California in high school. I never would have thought that I'd be auditioning for a role in California that would take me back to Hawaii!
We filmed for about five months and it was probably one of the best experiences that everyone's had. We got to go to the beach, go hiking on weekends and there was just so much to do there. With COVID-19 [precautions], we weren't really able to see many people who weren't part of the production, so we all got closer super fast. We were in this almost-bubble. It was like summer camp for us.
GL: And how'd you connect to your cast members?
Matthew: I learned so much from Jason Scott Lee, who plays my dad. I've always been inspired by him and he's such a legend. Kathleen [Rose Perkins] plays my mom and she's so talented, definitely one of the best actresses I've worked with in my life. You can learn so much from watching actors like that, the way she takes what's on paper to the screen.
And the whole cast, everyone's so talented. Peyton [Elizabeth Lee] makes a *perfect* Doogie. If she wanted to [IRL], she probably could be a 16-year-old doctor. I don't know how that works legally! But I feel like she's just so smart and talented that she could if she wanted to.
GL: What's up next for you this year?
Matthew: I'm in the new season of Saved by the Bell. They just released the teaser and you can see a split second of me. I've also been filming a lot, shooting stuff, just practicing. Going on a lot of hikes and fishing and spending time with family. Just trying to stay as busy as I can.
GL: And what are your dreams for the future?
Matthew: I want to be in a Marvel movie as a superhero. That's my dream. And the day that happens, my dream will come true.
GL: Any advice for teens out there?
Matthew: The biggest thing is not caring what other people think. Because, at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter. If you let other people's opinions influence the way you think, then you're never going to do what you really want. And life is all about doing what makes you happy.
Catch Doogie Kamealoha, M.D. on Disney+ now!
Image Credit: David Esterson. Parts of this interview were edited and condensed for clarity.