Masi Oka

Masi Oka was born in Tokyo, Japan, and moved to Los Angeles at the age of six, where he currently resides. He graduated from Brown University with degrees in mathematics and computer science and a theatre arts minor. He pursued an acting career while taking his first job at George Lucas' special effects house Industrial Light & Magic. Despite his successful career as an actor, he continues to provide ILM with technology for groundbreaking effects for more than 30 films, including Pirates of the Caribbean: Dean Man's Chest, War of the Worlds, and the three Star Wars prequels. His feature-film credits include memorable roles in Along Came Polly, Austin Powers in Goldmember and House of the Dead 2: Dead Aim. He currently stars in NBC's
Heroes as Hiro Nakamura, a Tokyo computer/anime enthusiast who develops a way to move in time through sheer will power. Review Graveyard caught up with Oka as Heroes was about to start broadcasting on the Sci-Fi Channel...

ReviewGraveyard: Can you tell us a little bit about your character and what his powers are?

Masi Oka: My character is Hiro Nakamura. He's an office drone in Japan and he's a big comic book enthusiast. He learns that he can bend time and space, so teleportation and chronokinesis, and he's just absolutely exhilarated with the fact that he can do this. It's been his dream all along and he's so happy that he's been chosen.

RG: The character is a big sci-fi and comic book fan. Is this a trait which you relate to?

MO: I believe so. I am definitely a big enthusiast of science fiction and special effects. I grew up with Japanese manga [Japanese comics], so I know a lot about the manga world.

I really, really love the character and I believe the writers are doing an amazing job writing Hiro and bringing who I am into the character and extending me in terms of being a big comic book enthusiast. Heroes is a big extension of who I am.

RG: There is an online graphic novel which goes hand-in-hand with the series. How important is this to the show? How does it feel to see yourself in cartoon form?

MO: I think it's just absolutely wonderful.

When we went to the comic convention, we had a screening of the pilot episode and we knew we had something absolutely special and magical when we saw the fans' reaction. We knew we hit it right on the head and that we had served the comic book community really well.

And you know, in particular with Hiro being the comic book enthusiast as he is, he's somewhat the representative for that voice of comic book fans. To have him as part of a comic book too is just absolutely thrilling, both in support of the character and for myself.

RG: You worked on special effects before becoming an actor. Did you find yourself looking over people's shoulders as the effects were produced for the show?

MO: Absolutely, anytime I could.

Our special effects team have done an amazing job with the pilot and all the episodes coming up. It's really wonderful. It's always fascinating because special effects are part of what makes the magic behind the movies. I'm like a kid watching all these cool things happen, even the green screen excites me.

RG: What has been the most exhilarating aspect of the production?

MO: The script is always both surprising and exhilarating. Every week we get something new. Every question they ask, they answer it but they also ask another question.

It's a constant rollercoaster going up and down. You read the script and think: "Oh my God, wow. Wait a minute, that's how it ends? No wait, come on, where's the next script?" You get the next script and it's like: "Oh my, that is just absolutely brilliant. I would have never thought of that!"

It's a constant rollercoaster. That's always been surprising how brilliant the minds of our writers are, they constantly top themselves week after week.

RG: Finally, if you had a super power, what would it be?

MO: As a kid growing up, the superpower I wanted was the Midas touch, the ability to turn anything into gold. My allowance was about a quarter every week and that was only enough to go to the arcade and play one game. So I would have to be really good at playing arcades or have a bunch of rich friends. But if I had the Midas touch, then I could have just picked up a stone and turned it to gold.

RG: Thank you for your time.

With thanks to Julie Warmington at Holler

Heroes will begin broadcasting on the Sci-Fi Channel from February 2007.

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