While filming ABC's supernatural thriller "The River," the actors had to pretend to be frightened of ghosts and other entities lurking around them when nothing was actually threatening them.
That was not the case when they filmed at the former Waimano Training School and Hospital outside Pearl City on the island of Oahu. It's reportedly one of Hawaii's most haunted locations.
"The place was haunted to the point that the security guard left screaming the first night we were there," star Leslie Hope told me recently. "Four people on our crew and cast broke bones in the three days that we were there, which is crazy."
Among those injured was Thomas Kretschmann, who plays Capt. Kurt Brynildson, Hope said. He split his shin bone after falling down a stair and claimed that he felt something push him.
"He's a pretty tough guy; he's a macho guy, always carries a gun and stuff like that in the show and he always plays those parts," she said. "He was literally standing on a step and felt like somebody pushed him down ... Stuff like was happening there. That was scary."
Viewers get to see the hospital in “The Experiment,” which premieres at 8 p.m. March 13 on ABC. In the episode (sneak peeks above), it serves as an abandoned research facility that the Magus crew that is searching for Dr. Emmet Cole is led to by a tantalizing set of clues.
In actuality, the Waimano Ridge facility has served as a hospital for abandoned children and an insane asylum in the past.
"Rumor has it that the guy who ran the place had been decapitated by the nurses there because he was so terrible to the staff and the children," Hope said.
According to the Historic Hawai'i Foundation, the Waimano site was established in 1919 and was originally known as the Waimano Home for the Feebleminded. "It was shuttered in 1999 following years of rumors about dingy conditions and questionable patient treatment," says the Foundation's Web site. After years of neglect, the site says, the Department of Health began restoring buildings at Waimano Ridge and turning it into a modern medical community. It currently houses a number of state organizations and programs.
But abandoned buildings remain there, and through the years numerous ghost sightings have been reported, as well as claims of lights and faucets turning on and off by themselves, mysterious sounds of footsteps in buildings on the compound and car crashes on the grounds and near the buildings. (The Historic Hawai'i Foundation site does not bring up the reported hauntings, but the Haunted Sites in North America site does.)
Whether you believe the claims or not, Hope—a self-professed skeptic of “hauntings” before filming began—said her mind has been changed.
“I would say most assuredly yes,” she said. “After we were there for three months and the situation in that creepy abandoned hospital was one of the worst, where you’d step into these long corridors. Now granted, they’re dressed to be scary for the show itself. It’s smeared with blood and all sorts of trash thrown all over the place. But even without it, you step in and—I don’t know quite how to describe it—it just felt like you were always trying to brush things off your body. Like there were things around you all the time.”