[TV] Out of This World "Heroe" - Masi Oka
- Masi Oka - Hiro on NBC's "Heroes"
Q&A with Masi Oka
By Rob Owen, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
More Information on Masi
"Heroes" star Masi Oka.
As the 24-year-old, "Star Trek"-loving Japanese office drone who's
been endowed with the power to teleport, Hiro Nakamura immediately
became the breakout character on NBC's "Heroes" (9 p.m. tomorrow).
For actor Masi Oka, Hiro is his biggest role yet. He's appeared in
movies ("Along Came Polly") and on TV (most notably as the doormat
lab tech, Franklyn, in six episodes of "Scrubs"), but never quite to
the acclaim he's getting in "Heroes." Unlike many of the "Heroes"
characters who fret and worry about their developing powers, Hiro
expresses joy and exuberance at his newfound ability to travel
through space and time.
Like Hiro, 31-year-old Oka is a fan of science fiction and fantasy
("amazing" is how he describes the new season of "Battlestar
Galactica"), but he's also had experience working behind the scenes
on special effects-filled blockbusters, including the most
recent "Star Wars" trilogy and the first two "Pirates of Caribbean"
movies. After studying computer science and math at Brown University,
Oka graduated and went to work for George Lucas' Industrial Light &
Q: What kind of work did you do for ILM?
A: I'm always the hired gun who's brought in to fight fires. I do
research and development on the technology and work with how to do a
certain special effect.
In "Star Wars: Episode II," when Jango Fett is chasing Obi Wan Kenobi
through an asteroid field, they needed a big asteroid to shatter into
a million pieces, and I had to figure out how to do the fracturing,
write the code and show an artist how to use it.
Q: Do you miss that work?
A: I'm still consulting with ILM. I can't bring my laptop to the set
anymore because my workload as a series regular is more, but I do
telecommute. I would probably never give it up. I think it's great
using both sides of the brain.
Q: So you must understand how they do some of the effects
on "Heroes," right?
A: It gives me an appreciation for people who do things behind the
camera. I understand how precise everything has to be. You'll find me
more patient and cooperative with the visual effects stuff than other
actors might be. ... If we're fortunate enough to get to season three
or four, I would love to direct an episode and bring my ILM cronies
in, get them to do special effects and get an employee discount: Buy
two special effects, get two free. I have to use my employee discount
Q: You were born in Japan and speak fluent Japanese. What brought you
to L.A. at age 6?
A: I was raised by a single mother, and she felt the Japanese
education system, albeit wonderful, keeps you in a certain range. You
have to be better than this level but below this level. She saw I was
quote-unquote "gifted and talented" in science in particular, and she
wanted to come to America, where she felt that would be nurtured,
rather than stay in Japan where they'd be satisfied if I was above
Q: Your character is not the typical breakout star of a TV show. Why
do you think Hiro appeals to viewers so much?
A: Anyone's guess is as good as mine, but if I take a more subjective
view of it, I think it's because he really enjoys [his power]. He's
very pure; he's a kid in wide-eyed wonder. Rarely do you get to see
the underdog character vindicated in the first episode, which is kind
of scary because it means things could go downhill from there. The
passion and optimism and enthusiasm he has is often missing in this
world where people are so cynical about everything. It's the same
reason I love America Ferrera on "Ugly Betty." She's the underdog,
but she faces life with such a positive attitude.
Q: Do the scripts have your dialogue in English or Japanese?
A: They give me English in the script, and I translate everything
myself. I really enjoy translating, and I want to make it as
authentic as possible, even down to the word choices. It helps me
create Hiro and also hear the rhythm better.
Q: Has playing Hiro changed the way people react to you in public?
A: So far it seems like the target demo [that finds Hiro appealing]
is women 50 and over and 13 and under. I think I'm starting to narrow
The other day, ["Heroes" actor] Milo [Ventimiglia] and I were
grabbing some drinks with his agent's girlfriend for her birthday and
at the bar these three cute girls come up to me and said, "Can we
take our picture with you?" And then they said, "You're my
boyfriend's favorite character!" So this is my life. Nothing has
changed, except people want to take their picture with me now, so I
feel like Goofy from Disneyland. But I think it's funny.
Those fans lucky enough to see Masi Oka in the Heroes pilot screening
at the San Diego Comic-Con, and even those who have seen the four and
a half minute trailer at NBC.com, instantly became impressed with the
Japanese-speaking subtitled character of Hiro Nakamura. Hiro provides
the show with its elements of comic relief, hope, and humor.
You might also remember Mr. Oka from a wealth of previous work,
including Scrubs, Luis, Joey, and Gilmore Girls on TV, and Austin
Powers in Goldmember and Along Came Polly in theaters. What you might
not know is that he's a Brown University graduate with degrees in
mathematics and computer science with a theatre arts minor, at one
time he worked for Industrial Light & Magic in special effects, and
has had a background in comedy as well as drama.
If any character represents the heart and the goodness of Heroes,
Hiro would be it. Masi Oka was kind enough to participate in an
interview with 9thwonders.com. The interview is below.
How did you become involved with the Heroes project? Can you tell me
about the casting process?
Basically, there's your typical pressure-filled four rounds of
auditions. Luckily it wasn't for public viewing like American Idol,
but it was pretty intense. First we read for the casting director,
then the producer. Then it gets boiled down to three people at the
studio test, and then that boils down to two at the network test, and
that was that.
An agent submits you for the part. And you know, I got the script,
and I was reading through it, and I just fell in love with the
character and the brilliant writing. And I just knew. I loved this
part. It's very me, in many senses, and it's such a specific
character. Just going through the process, it felt really good. I
felt pretty comfortable. I kinda knew it was pretty much mine to
lose. I feel like I was at the perfect time, at the perfect place,
with the perfect place. It felt like destiny.
I am told that each actor who was cast added a special something to
the characters they will be playing. What do you feel you have added
I don't know. Hopefully my face, my charm, and my ripped body. I feel
I gave it more of a naivete, an excitement and energy.
Also, being a Japanese native and having grown up with Japanese
media, I can give it some authenticity. I think my comedic and improv
experience helped. I don't know. All of the characters are written
really well, so I feel I'm just there to try to make it alive, in
terms of how I envisioned it, and if I've added something extra that
was mine, that's great from an actor's perspective.
Hiro seems to be a big science fiction fan. Are you a science fiction
fan as well?
Yeah, definitely. I definitely love science fiction. It's a great
genre. I'd never consider myself as a Trekkie, or go on the
convention circuit, but I grew up on Japanese comic books, and the
manga, and I love the old school stuff, from the Orange Road to
modern thrillers like the Monster and Death Note. So, I think sci-fi
makes your brain turn and think, and I love the kind of sci-fi that
has a message as well, which Heroes does. So I think, yeah, I
definitely love science fiction.
Is there a lesson to be learned from Hiro as far as believing in
Of course. Everything begins with believing. It's like that song from
Prince of Egypt, "There can be miracles when you believe" [sings]. If
you don't believe, nothing will happen. If you don't believe in
something, you'll never take action. Whether if it's in yourself or a
higher entity, it's that belief that propels us to move forward and
live our lives. There's so much negativity in our world, and nay-
sayers, that I just think it's really important to believe. It takes
so much courage to say yes, so I think that's hopefully a lesson that
everyone will take with them.
What was your reaction when you learned that Heroes was going to be
picked up as a series?
I was absolutely elated. It's just a phenomenal script, phenomenal
characters. Our biggest thing was, I wanted to know what was coming
next! I just wanted to follow the script! I was like, "I want to read
Episode 2, Episode 3. What's going to happen to these characters?"
That was more my thing. It was like "Yes! I get to see where these
characters are gonna go."So that was the biggest thing for me. And
also, for me, doing the pilot, I didn't get a chance to work with
such a brilliant cast, because most of our storylines are so
separate, and I just wanted to have the opportunity to work with my
Was there anyone in the cast that you were a big fan of before
signing on to the show?
No one in particular; I just think they're all great actors. And I
want to be selfish, and I want to work with all of them, to be honest
Will the Japanese/subtitle thing continue into the series or will
Hiro somehow gain the secondary power of instant translation?
Oh, well I'm gonna quote Mr. Tim Kring on this one. "Hiro speaks
limited English, that seems to get better and better as we go along.
He can get by with his limited vocabulary, but also with the sheer
force of his charm and personality. The audience will have fun
watching him get more and more comfortable with it." So, it looks
like Hiro will definitely slowly learn at whatever pace he picks up
English. I personally think that, because he reads a lot of American
comics, I'd love for him to speak English, but only in comic book
phrases. That would be a funny thing to do.
At one point of the pilot, Hiro manages to transport himself clear
across the world. How does he know where he can safely land?
When Hiro concentrates, I believe he sees his destination place, when
he's bending time and space. He visualizes, and sees that open area.
He's able to control when he's going to occupy that space. Of course
there will be other atoms there, no matter what, but he finds a way
to find out when the coast is clear, and transport himself at that
If you could have any super power yourself, what would you want it to
be and why?
I would love to choose Hiro's powers, but I think time travel and
teleportation are two separate things, so out of those two, I would
probably pick time travel, because I would love to go back to the
defining point of my adolescence in my sophomore year. Go to that
cafeteria, and tell myself "DO NOT ASK HER OUT. Do not ask her out.
She is gonna cause you 10 years of therapy! Do not ask her out!" And
I think I would have been a much happier person after that moment.
So, that would be the one thing I would love to do. Give advice to my
What appeals to you about the Hiro character?
His energy, his charisma... the fact that he has a child's eye. He's
very pure. He's just a big kid at heart who is given this amazing
opportunity to change the world. Rarely do you see that kind of
character on TV, that's just so pure and just so fun and adventurous.
And the fact that he's vindicated from the beginning. That's very
refreshing. Especially in this very dark, realistic show, I get to
play the levity, and bring the laughs and bring the smiles to the
audience, which is what I love about Hiro.
What would you like to see happening with your character as the
As I said before, I would definitely love to see Hiro join forces
with other characters. I'd love to see him take many adventures. With
his powers, he can travel anywhere and anytime in the world. We could
find out so much about the history, a lot of the What Ifs. I think
that the adventure aspect is so cool, that I'd love to see him do
that. And of course, a love interest would always be great. I'd love
for Hiro to meet someone, for instance, at a Comic-Con type
convention. Maybe they were, like, IM buddies, you know, discuss Star
Trek over IM, but they bump into each other at a Comic-Con. Kind of
like a You've Got Mail kind of thing, in a geeky world.
Do you have any theories about where Hiro's power comes from?
That's a really tough question. Currently, Hiro's power comes from
the brilliant genius mind of Tim Kring. I think that's what we're
going to find out. I don't want to theorize too much, because I'm
just excited to see how all this unravels. It could be a mutation
thing, it could be stuff from outer space. It could be very high
concept like a higher entity deciding to put some sort of change. And
maybe someone from the future is coming back, and decided to plant
seeds of these abilities. I don't have any specific theories yet, but
as more clues get revealed, maybe I'll develop more.
What was the experience like in filming the Heroes pilot?
It was amazing. The crew, the writers, the cast "it was all
phenomenal. It was like a family, and we all knew that we were
creating something special, so there was this great energy, and it
was just an amazing experience.
Do you find it humorous that you play a character named Hiro on a
show titled Heroes?
Oh, absolutely. We were joking around that the show Heroes is
actually about Hiro. Multiple Hiro-type heroes, and stuff. It's a
great play on words, and it is funny. Hiro is probably more of the
more comedic and cartoonish character out of all the characters that
are in the scripts.
Prior to acting, you worked in special effects. Can you tell me
anything about that?
I worked for a company called Industrial Light & Magic, George
Lucas's special effects company. It was wonderful. You use a very
different side of the brain, and it just kind of goes through my
whole theory of life. The human being has two sides of the brain, the
left side and the right side, and I think society tends to force
that, to force us or bottle us, label us to use only one side most of
the time. And to do special effects was a great exercise of both
sides of the brain. Along with acting. I think it's important for
anyone who is involved in the industry to understand both sides, of
all the aspects of TV making and film-making content creation,
because I think it just rounds you out as an individual, to have more
appreciation for what the crew does and what the crew does.
It allows you to think outside the box. So I'm very grateful for the
dedication and opportunities I got doing special effects, and
ironically, I kind of get to use it in this show that has a lot of
the effects built in.
Is it more difficult to do a dramatic role than to appear in a comedy
Hiro is kind of the comic relief for this show, so I feel like I'm
still doing kind of a realistic comedy. Comedy tends to be a little
bit harder, in my mind, because comedy's very subjective. Funny to
you, could be not funny to someone else. Funny means different things
to different people. I'm actually looking forward to playing more of
a dramatic role because I'm always used to playing comedy, and it
feels like a different acting muscle, but comedy's based on truth, as
well, so I think you do need to be a good actor, and even moreso, to
play comedy real. And hopefully my experiences on Scrubs and doing a
lot of single camera comedy will be parlayed into the dramatic role
THE UNBELIEVABLE STORY OF MASI OKA
By MAXINE SHEN
October 15, 2006 -- While most actors dabble in philanthropy,
fashion, music or paparazzi-baiting when they're not working, Masi
Oka spends his downtime working at a real 9-to-5 job.
When the 31-year old actor isn't playing a geeky Japanese office
drone-turned-teleporting time traveler on NBC's hit new
drama "Heroes," he spends up to three days a week consulting for
George Lucas' powerhouse visual effects studio, Industrial Light &
As a research and development technical director there, Oka works on
films like the latest "Star Wars" trilogy and "Pirates of the
Caribbean." He writes the computer programs that artists use to
create effects such as exploding asteroids and dripping water.
"It was my first job coming out of college," says Oka, who graduated
from Brown University with a B.S. in computer science and mathematics
and a minor in theater arts.
"When I was a kid, I kept saying that I wanted to win Oscars in the
technical and creative fields, to show the world that the human brain
has two sides," he says.
Even if has yet to win an Oscar, Oka's career now has two dimensions.
And it all came about in the most unusual fashion. While working at
ILM's San Francisco office, Oka got his SAG card and moved down to
Los Angeles to give acting a try. When he ran out of cash and started
job hunting, ILM asked him to work at the company's L.A. branch -
with one stipulation.
"I had to sign this contract with them that said if I didn't get a
supporting role on a feature film or a recurring role on a pilot or
series, I'd have to come back to San Francisco," recalls Oka. "I got
a recurring role on a pilot that didn't get picked up, but it was
enough to fulfill the contract and ILM let me stay in L.A., so I
could pursue acting. I've been chugging along since."
On "Heroes," so far the only new series that any network has picked
up for a full season order, Oka plays the appropriately named Hiro
Nakamura, who's given the ultimate challenge - to change the future
after witnessing a forthcoming catastrophe during his first time-
To do this, he enlists the help of his very confused fellow office
drone and a comic book called "9th Wonders!" that chronicles his
future activities. So far, Hiro is following the book's instructions,
but that's not how it's always going to be, according to Oka.
"As Hiro's power grows, he becomes more comfortable with moving
backwards and forwards in time," he says, ominously adding that "the
time-space continuum isn't something you want to mess with."
Until that fateful moment, viewers can enjoy the high spirits Oka
brings to his role and the show. Hardcore fans can try to pick up
some Japanese along the way, since Oka spends most of his screen time
babbling away in his native tongue.
Oka was born in Japan but moved to the United States when he was six
and he is responsible for translating his scripted lines from English
to Japanese for the show.
"I always translate my own stuff because I want to make it as
authentic as possible for my character," Oka says. "Of course, only
Japanese speakers will understand the subtle jokes I'm putting in,
but it still helps me live the character more truthfully," he says.
The subtitles will come to an end one day though.
"Hiro slowly picks up English, eventually getting to the point where
he can speak it well enough to get around anywhere in America,
because he's going to start meeting the other heroes," hints Oka.
"It won't be like the Justice League of America with spandex. There
isn't going to be a huge meeting - at least in the near future - but
people get together really quickly. Everybody's leading their lives,
but their paths will intersect. Part of the fun is figuring out how
they're going to connect a Tokyo office guy and a Texas cheerleader."
HEROES, Monday, 9 p.m., NBC
SPECIAL EFFECTS MAN
Masi Oka picks his top three SFX
"A Perfect Storm" - "The water effects are amazing."
"Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope" - "It was groundbreaking and very
"Forrest Gump" - "It's the subtle things that you don't really see
that make the best effects."
Masi Oka stars in NBC's new ensemble drama series "Heroes" as Hiro
Nakamura, a Tokyo nonconformist computer/anime enthusiast who
develops a way to pierce the space-time continuum and move back in
time through sheer will power. "Heroes" follows the lives of ordinary
people who discover they possess extraordinary abilities.
No stranger to television, Oka has had recurring roles on
NBC's "Scrubs" as Franklyn and "Luis" as Deng Wu. He also guest-
starred on "Without a Trace," "Joey," "Reba," "The Loop," "All of
Us," "Still Standing," "Will & Grace," "Yes, Dear" and "Gilmore
His feature-film credits include memorable roles in "Along Came
Polly," "Austin Powers in Goldmember" and "House of the Dead 2: Dead
With a background in improvisation, Oka has performed on the stages
of Second City, ImprovOlympics, The Groundlings, and TheatreSports.
His improvisational expertise has been showcased with guest
appearances as various characters on "Punk'd," "Reno 911" and "The
Jamie Kennedy Experiment."
After graduating from Brown University with degrees in mathematics
and computer science and a theatre arts minor, Oka pursued an acting
career while taking his first job at George Lucas' Oscar-winning
special effects house Industrial Light & Magic. Today, despite his
successful career as an actor, he continues to provide ILM with
technology for groundbreaking effects for more than 30 films.
Oka was born in Tokyo, Japan, and moved to Los Angeles at age six,
where he currently resides. He is fluent in Japanese and proficient
in Spanish. His hobbies include Kendo (Japanese sword fighting),
playing video games, watching and writing romantic comedies, playing
the piano, and singing. His birthday is December 27.
Heroes' Multi-talented Masi Oka
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"Heroes is about ordinary people with extraordinary abilities," says
Masi Oka of his new series on NBC. Oka is not exactly short of
extraordinary abilities himself. A computer science whiz as well as
former musical director of an a cappella group, Oka is also a skilled
improv comic who has appeared on "Reno 911," "Punk'd" and "The Jamie
Oka says he landed the gig on Heroes by being "fortunate enough to be
in the right place at the right time."
When Oka was a student at Brown, he says, "Lucas Films came to our
career fair my senior year. Until then I hadn't even considered that
I could use my knowledge of computer science to work on films."
Oka worked at Industrial Light and Magic creating special effects for
movies like "Star Wars: Episode II," "The Hulk," and "Terminator 3"
before deciding to try his hand at acting professionally. Since then
Oka has also appeared on Scrubs, Will and Grace and Gilmore Girls.
Oka loves acting, but said he also has his eyes set on a possible
future as a director.
Heroes will premiere on NBC Monday, September 25.
Exclusive: Heroes' Hiro, Masi Oka
Source: Edward Douglas
A few months ago, Superhero Hype! ran exclusive interviews with Tim
Kring, creator of the new hit NBC show Heroes, the show's writer/co-
executive producer Jeph Loeb and Hayden Panetiere who plays the
indestructible cheerleader Claire.
Around the same time, we had a chance to talk with Masi Oka, who
plays Hiro Nakamura, the Japanese office worker and comic geek, who
suddenly finds himself with powers over time and space. At the time,
we knew that Hiro would be popular but who could guess that he'd be
more popular than every other character on the show combined, as seen
by our current poll (see main page)? It makes sense, since Hiro is
the funniest character on the show, playing up to the geek in all of
Now that the show has exploded, Masi's probably living large, ridin'
around in limos with hot semi-clad women like P. Diddy, but Superhero
Hype! had a chance to talk to him before he became a superstar, so
enjoy this exclusive chat with the man behind the funniest and most
powerful character on Heroes.
Superhero Hype!: First off, I want to say that you're my favorite
character on the show by far.
Masi Oka: Thank you very much.
SHH!: Did you get a chance to attend the panel at Comic-Con in San
Diego in July?
Oka: Yes, we got a chance to go to San Diego Comic-Con. It was
unfortunate that we didn't get to see the floor, 'cause I would have
loved to have seen it, but we were able to go down and do our
presentation, do a Q 'n' A and then drive right back.
SHH!: How was the reaction to your character at the screening? Were
you there for that?
Oka: I got to see a little bit of it, but I guess the crowd reacted
well. It was very cool, because I realize that Hiro is kind of
representative of all the comic book geeks. I myself am a big Manga
freak as well, so I was just happy that I could give it justice, and
it seemed like a lot of the audience members did connect to the
character, so that was very cool.
SHH!: You've done a lot of TV work, but I guess this might be your
most prominent role?
Oka: Yeah, absolutely. I've done a lot of TV, I think over 30
episodes and I've had a lot of recurring characters on "Scrubs"
and "Luis" but this is the most prominent series regular role I've
SHH!: How did you find about it or how did Tim Kring find you?
Oka: It was through the audition process. Even though I've worked a
lot in the past, I'm not a quote-unquote name like Greg Grunberg or
Ali Larter, so I had to go through the four-round auditioning process
for the pilot. After the second round, I had a feeling that it was
pretty much mine to lose, so I better not screw up in the next two
SHH!: What was that audition process like? Was the character
described to you or were you given scenes from the first episode?
Oka: What happens in the audition process is that they give you a
breakdown of what the character's going to be like in the script and
your agent or representative submits you. In the pilot, you go
through four rounds, the first round is just for the casting
director, the second round is for Tim [Kring], the third round is for
the studio, the fourth is for the network. They kind of whittle you
down slowly every round and it gets a lot more intense and pressure-
filled later on. The first round I had to do three scenes out of the
pilot and the second round, I think I did only one. I think after the
second round, they kind of knew who they were looking for, so they
were comfortable with just doing one scene 'cause it had seven lines.
It was pretty amazing to go through this process and know that your
whole life can change with seven lines.
SHH!: Had Tim or anyone seen you on "Scrubs" before you auditioned?
Oka: I'm not sure. They didn't say anything, but going through the
process, they were giving me the wink and the nudge, so I had the
feeling they were definitely on my side and rooting for me.
SHH!: You were actually born in Japan?
Oka: I was born in Japan. I moved to Los Angeles when I was 6, but I
had to go to Saturday school, kind of like Hebrew School but for
Japanese folks. Saturday school in Los Angeles is for the worker
families who live in Japan and have an L.A. branch and they send
their entire family there so they get to keep their education, but
the Saturday school here what you have is not only learn the language
but learn math, science, history, society, on top of that what we
would call English in our elementary school, learning literary stuff
and how to write and read. It was a pretty intense, literally
condensed Japanese education in one day.
SHH!: So at the age of 6, you were still learning Japanese culture on
top of the normal American education?
Oka: I also read a lot of Mangas and watched a lot of TV shows from
Japan. I was kind of bummed out because growing up, all the kids were
making fun of me. It was bad enough that I was a big math and science
geek, but to have school on a sixth day while everyone else was
playing and doing soccer and stuff. "Mom! Can't I just not do
anything, just watch Saturday morning cartoons?" I remember
pretending to be sick a lot to watch my "Saturday Morning Arcade" but
in retrospect, I'm so thankful that my mom forced me to go, because I
still feel connected to my culture, especially now, I get to use it
in my acting.
SHH!: How did you get into acting and doing television?
Oka: It was pretty much in college. Elementary and high school I had
a touch of it, but when I went to college, I realized I wanted to
actually study it as a major, and I did theatre arts as part of my
collegiate degree, and it was very cool. I love the idea of breaking
labels and stereotypes. In high school, I was on the math team, chess
team, computer team, all that. It was very very focused on one side
of the brain. College is kind of a spiritual education and a social
education, so it was time for me to grow as a human being. I wanted
to kind of break the mold and try something else. I knew theatre was
kind of cool, and I thought it was a great study as a human being,
and I just fell in love with it. It also opened my mind and you get
to see things from all different perspective and get to meet a lot of
different, interesting people. I was very fortunate to be able to
carry it on after I graduated.
SHH!: I saw that you play all sorts of different Asian characters,
not just Japanese, so how do you get into the head of a different
nationality than your own?
Oka: The accent is pretty different. I don't speak Chinese, and when
I go out on auditions, I let them know. That's one thing. Japanese I
can speak fluently, but I can't speak Korean or Chinese fluently. I'm
a pretty good learner of languages, but if you're asking me to
improvise, I can't. In terms of how I approach the character, there
are definitely similarities of Asian characters. It's kind of
critical in some senses because I do take the stereotypes of the
other Asian races and kind of apply that, but then make it into a
realistic of how I would portray it. The point-of-view is going to be
the same, I feel, from an Asian perspective, it's just the way it's
SHH!: Except for maybe "Lost", there haven't been many main Asian
characters on shows, so is there a lot of competition for these parts?
Oka: There's definitely competition per se. Luckily, this character
was very niche in terms of it had to be fluently Japanese, and
there's not many actors out there who are fluent in Japanese and have
a lot of experience, especially in the American TV world, so it was
like the right place at the right time kind of thing, and I'm so
fortunate that Tim has this vision of the character. It's cool
because the character was very much an extension of who I am in many
ways. It's like, "Oh My God! This is THE role for me!"
SHH!: So you have some pretty cool powers. In the pilot, we weren't
quite sure if he really had powers or not, but were you excited by
what you may be able to do with them?
Oka: Absolutely, This is like a dream come true. It's a two-fer first
of all! Just having teleportation or chronokinesis is bitching, but
to have both that's like a two-for-one deal! I personally think that
Hiro is just overpowered and he needs to be nursed a little. That's
just me, but don't tell the writers that! I think that's so frickin'
awesome. The great thing about it is that I know I'll be working with
a lot of special effects stuff because of that, and that's always a
joy for me, because I used to work at Industrial Light & Magic, so I
know how it works on the backside, so now I get to see the front of
it, so it's a cool mix.
SHH!: Is it dangerous for a comic geek like Hiro to have so much
Oka: Usually, it would be dangerous, but because it's Hiro, I don't
think it is. The comics are his bible, so he learned about "truth and
justice and the American way", so he follows that motto, the creed,
of being good and using his power for good. He's such a kid, he's
innocent, he's a wide-eyed wanderer. He just loves the sense of
adventure and he feels it's destiny to use his power for good. If it
were someone else, it might be different, but because he grew up on
this fantasy and has a clear vision of good vs. evil, he sticks to
the creed of being good and using the power for helping others and
saving the world.
SHH!: Did you actually get to shoot your scenes in New York and Tokyo
or was it all green screen magic?
Oka: I have to break it to you. It was all in green screen L.A.
Sorry, that's Hollywood magic for you, but it looked great! Even I
was surprised when I saw the final cut. "Wow! I'm in New York!" And I
was only imagining it. It was a lot cleaner and prettier than I
SHH!: Has your character had a chance to meet Ali or Hayden's
Oka: Slowly. I haven't met Hayden yet. There is a connection to Ali
that is being made. What's great about this series is that these
connections are going to be made relatively soon. Tim came up with an
amazing vision, and then you have all these wonderful writers from
other shows like "Lost," "Smallville," "Everwood," "Wonder Falls" who
came to our show and added on to Tim's vision. Tim didn't come from a
comic book background, so these writers knew what worked and what
didn't work. They've gone through the "lab rat" phase and now they're
bringing all the great stuff that worked in serialized "genre"
television into "Heroes." One of the things they do is they answer as
many questions as they ask. Instead of stringing along and keep on
teasing the audience and not answering questions, they answer the
questions, but they also ask as many for the next episode. That's
what keeps you constantly motivated to see the next script. Every
time I get the script, I'm like, "Oh my God! That is so cool! I would
never guess that!" and like "That's how it ends! What's going to
happen next!?" Which is so cool, because it's exactly what a comic
book would do.
SHH!: Both Hayden and Jeph Loeb mentioned that there's so much
excitement for the next script, not only for the audience but also
for the actors.
Oka: We're more fans, than just actors. That's why Tim doesn't tell
us stuff, but at the same time, we don't like to hear much about what
is going to happen to our character, because I love taking the
journey with Hiro and discovering this with him. It's just so
brilliant, and it gets better and better and better, and yet they
have a vision for the entire season or three seasons, they said.
That's what's phenomenal. So they're really on top of the ball. They
really know how to tell a story, and our job is to bring it to life.
SHH!: You mentioned being a fan of Manga. Are you a fan of any
Oka: I didn't really grow up on American comics as much. As I said, I
watched "Saturday Morning Saturcade" (sic) which was like Donkey Kong
or Space Ape, but I love "The Simpsons," but I never got around to
growing up a lot of the American comics. Maybe "Garfield"
or "Peanuts" or the syndicated comic strips, more humor stuff. I grew
up on the story Mangas. That's most of my influences [come from]. I
can't say that I'm a big comic geek, but I have to do a lot of
research. I even know that Green Lantern is no longer vulnerable to
SHH!: There's so many different types of Manga, so do you have any
preference of what kind you like reading?
Oka: I like the humor stuff. I still read the "Shonen Jump" and
the "Shonen Sundays" which are the weekly magazine. Even the
businessmen read them on the train to work, but for right now, I love
the Takahashi Rumiko stuff, the old "Maison Ikkoku" and "Lum Forever"
and nowadays, "Inuyasha." Right now, I can't get enough of Naoki
Urasawa, he did "Monster" and "20th Century Boys" and "PLUTO" which
is an homage to Osamu Tezuka's "Astro Boy." That's very cool, the
whole idea of the utopian society and the robots. He also does great
stuff like "Happy!" which is a tennis story and "Yawara", which is a
judo story. Naoki Urasawa is awesome! He has such an amazing vision
and an incredible brain and he works on so many different genres. I
really love his stuff.
SHH!: Hiro seems to very much be comic relief on the show, at least
from what we've seen; will there be some serious drama for him in his
Oka: I think that's because what his character is. There has to be
something in the future that's going to change him, I'm assuming,
just because it's such a dark and realistic show, but as of now, he
is a comic relief for the show and I think it's important. I wouldn't
want them to change it too much, because it is fun playing the comic.
I come from a comedic background, and it's such a heavy, dark show
with everyone dying and bleeding and talking about the philosophy of
life. It's fun to have that other character that gives it light and
levity and gives a wink and nod to the audience.
SHH!: Are you comfortable doing drama if that's thrown your way?
Oka: Oh, yeah. I love drama, as well, don't get me wrong. As an
actor, anything that can challenge you both comedically and
dramatically is a lot of fun. If they want me to cry on cue, I will
cry on cue without using onions.
SHH!: I hope that somewhere along the way Hiro will meet one of the
women on the show and hook up.
Oka: I think that would be cool. One of the early things I was
thinking was how about if I meet someone online and then I meet them
at Comic-Con. Like "You've Got Mail" but in the comic geek world.
Hiro would meet someone and if they're in costume, I think Hiro could
talk to them so smoothly and just be all geeked out, but once they're
out of costume, Hiro doesn't know what to do. I can see that
happening to Hiro.
SHH!: It sounds like Hiro would have to have his own episode timed to
shoot at next year's Comic-Con.
Oka: That would be cool.
In case you haven't caught it yet, Heroes is on NBC every Monday at
9PM, and it's not too late to get on board!
Masi Oka: Coder, Actor, Hero
By John Gaudiosi| Also by this reporter
Millions of viewers of NBC's Heroes know actor Masi Oka as Hiro
Nakamura, the bored young Japanese office worker who discovers he has
the power to alter time and teleport. What they probably don't know
is that he's been working behind the scenes for years as one of
Industrial Light & Magic's top programmers.
In an ensemble cast that features solid acting all around, Oka steals
the show every time he's on the screen. The show literally has his
Hiro living out the exploits of his own comic book, 9th Wonders.
Since graduating from Brown University in 1997, Oka has worked on
more than 30 big-budget Hollywood films at ILM. During that time he
has written more than 20 programs and 100 plug-ins for the leading
special-effects house. While audiences might not have known his name
or face until Heroes, they've seen his programming magic on the big
screen in films like The Perfect Storm, Star Wars: Episode II,
Terminator 3 and the first two Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
"I've been programming computers since elementary school, where they
taught us, and I stuck with computer science through high school and
college," said Oka. "ILM offered me an entry-level position at its
Marin, California, headquarters, but they refused to fly me out for
the job interview. Fortunately, Microsoft also was interested in
hiring me and they flew me out to Seattle, then down to San Francisco
and back to Providence."
Oka ended up taking the job with ILM and remains with the company to
this day, despite his hectic TV production schedule. He said ILM was
a great place to start in the industry because he learned a lot about
the pipeline and how the company worked.
"It was also a way for upper management to determine how much drive
we had," said Oka. "If we wanted to, we could always start our own
After a year and a half of training, which included some work on Star
Wars: Episode I and Rocky and Bullwinkle, Oka got his first
big "show" with The Perfect Storm. He worked with John Anderson to
create the computer-generated water effects for the film. All of the
water effects in that film, as well as water effects in more recent
films like Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, were the
result of code written by Oka.
"That allowed me to get my name out in the ILM community and people
wanted me to do a lot of particle work, fluid stuff and modeling for
different shows," said Oka. "I became more of a firefighter, going
around from show to show doing short-term work as a hired gun to
solve problems on a very quick basis."
A lot of the software Oka wrote became applicable to other shows. For
example, the computational fluid dynamics he worked on in Terminator
3, which allowed liquid metal to take shape, handled the drool in
Dreamcatcher. His surface-cracking technology from Star Wars: Episode
II worked well for Pirates of the Caribbean.
"The key to digital effects is to do things that are visually
accurate but done cheaply and approximated," said Oka. "I would
simulate viscosity or advection, things that are specific to the way
water moves. We'd do a cheap simulated effect for these movements and
they were used for things like the spray and wakes in The Perfect
Oka managed to get his Screen Actors Guild card by performing in a
few industrial videos. After working on The Perfect Storm for nearly
two full years, Oka moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career
in 2001. He appeared in a number of TV shows (Scrubs, Reba, Without a
Trace) and films (Along Came Polly, Legally Blonde 2, House of the
Dead 2) before Heroes thrust him into the spotlight.
Working remotely from ILM's Los Angeles studio, Oka has remained
active with movie effects, although now he's limited to one or two
days of ILM work a week because of his production schedule.
"I love both acting and programming equally," said Oka, who enjoys
challenging both sides of his brain. "I think it enriches me and
enhances me as an artist. I have a lot of appreciation for what
people do in front of the camera as well as behind the camera. I
don't think I could like one without the other. Eventually, I think
the road will lead me down to producing or directing, because it's
more about problem solving."
Should Heroes' early success continue for NBC, Oka said he would love
to be able to direct an episode in season three or four and bring all
of his ILM cronies in to help out.
"I'd make use of my employee discount -- buy two effects and get one
free," joked Oka.
IGN Interview: Heroes' Milo Ventimiglia and Masi Oka
We talk to two members of the new NBC show about super powers,
spoilers and what gives Batman his edge.
by Travis Fickett
September 26, 2006 - NBC's new show Heroes explores the lives of
several people who discover that they have powers beyond the
ordinary. At this summer's Television Critics Association event in
Pasadena, IGN TV was able to grab two of the Heroes, actors Milo
Ventimiglia (Gilmore Girls) and Masi Oka (Scrubs) for an exclusive
IGN TV: So the buzz on this show here at the TCAs is that it might be
the one to watch this season. How does that feel?
Milo Ventimiglia: As exciting as it is, that's also a scary prospect.
For 10 or 11 years of my career, I've flown under the radar. I've
been fortunate to work with some cool, creative people on some cool
shows. But it's kind of a frightening prospect to think that this
could just blow the f**k up. To think about the dynamic of how it's
going to go, how people are going to react towards us and how we'll
react with each other. I just go back to the adage of "keep your head
on the page, keep your head on the page." Don't worry about the
excitement or the bad and good things people are saying about the
show and focus on the material and the job and the responsibility to
the cast and the crew.
IGN TV: With a new producer of Gilmore Girls can you come back, do an
Ventimiglia: To be real honest I don't see a future at Gilmore Girls
anymore. I think the last episode I did where Rory shows up in Philly
and toys with Jess a bit. He says you can't keep doing this to me -
and she leaves. I think there's closure there and it's done. The
primary reason that I went back to Gilmore was because of Dan and Amy
(Palladino, the creators of Gilmore Girls). They kept saying they had
some great things they wanted me to do and be a part of and I
believed them and saw some nice growth for Jess. It was nice to come
back and play a character I had played for a long time and see that
he grew up. He didn't become an a**hole, but he turned into a nice
young man. That all goes back to the writing. I don't see myself
Masi Oka: He's part of our family now.
Ventimiglia: I am kind of busy now and won't even have the time.
IGN TV: Masi, you're looking back and in your past is Scrubs, are you
seeing only Heroes now?
Oka: Well, it's on the same network, so
Ventimiglia: Yeah, that's true. There's no WB anymore. I think I
brought the network down.
Oka: I still love that show. I think Scrubs is brilliant. It's
brilliant writing, and I owe a lot to those guys for my career. So if
they ever want me back I'll gladly do it.
IGN TV: In the episodes you were in, did you work with Zach Braff as
Oka: Actually no. One episode I was in was directed by Matthew Perry,
oddly enough. But I've never worked with Zach as a director.
IGN TV: So your character can bend space and time?
Oka: Bend space and time, yeah.
IGN TV: And now your character is in New York?
Oka: We see him in New York at the end of the pilot, from there a
chain of events happen that will either lead him to stay in New York
or bring him back to Japan.
IGN TV: Milo, did you get any flak for revealing that you were an
Ventimiglia: I think a smart person can deduce "why does he think he
can fly, but he doesn't?"
IGN TV: In the pilot, what I saw, which was a rough cut with some
unfinished effects, it wasn't that clear to me that you and your
brother weren't both flying. But you're not?
Ventimiglia: No, my character can't fly. I know that was a spoiler
question they were asking about Peter, and it's something Tim [Kring,
Heroes creator] and I discussed. I think an audience member that pays
attention to the small details, and you hear Peter say "my foot
hovered before it hit the ground." Well did it? Or did he imagine it?
And why? Why could he fly at a certain point and then not at another?
And if his brother had no idea that he could fly, it's Peter's
empathic feelings that brought it out of him.
IGN TV: So is Peter something of a recruiter for the heroes?
Ventimiglia: At this point, I don't know.
Oka: The writers are brilliant. They know what they're doing. The
show asks a lot of questions, but you have to trust that they will
answer them. As many questions as they ask, they give answers. It's
what makes the show cool. That's why we don't like to give you too
many spoilers because it will be answered, we guarantee that. The
writers are so brilliant. Every episode just gets better and better.
IGN TV: There are some criticisms of shows like this, on say Lost,
where there are more questions than answers.
Oka: Jesse Alexander, who is writing for our show, comes from Lost
and he knew that was the case. So does Jeph Loeb. They're taking the
experience from Lost and learning from it.
IGN TV: Masi, you said you've said you're a Manga fan. Are you a fan
of American comics as well?
Oka: I haven't actually read too many American comics, to be honest
with you. I was a big fan of Green Lantern and Spider-Man. But the
one thing about Green Lantern I never got is why is he vulnerable to
yellow? If you look at the color palette, yellow isn't the opposite
of green, purple is.
Photo: Mitch Haaseth; NBC
Masi Oka as Hiro Nakamura
IGN TV: Milo, are you a comic book fan?
Ventimiglia: You know, I haven't been in a long time. I was when I
was a kid. And I never really went in too much for the super powered
heroes, but the crazier ones.
IGN TV: Like who?
Ventimiglia: Batman. He doesn't have a power, he's just f***ing
crazy. If you think about it, that's what he is. He's very smart,
really educated, built and just f***ing crazy.
IGN TV: Did you like Batman Begins?
Ventimiglia: Oh yeah. That was just great. That's a dream role, to
play Robin to Christian Bale's Batman. Also the Punisher, just the
more realistic characters.
IGN TV: It does seem that's where this show is headed, to try and
mine the reality of what people would really do with these powers.
Ventimiglia: That's exactly it, I think.
IGN TV: Peter seems to be a heroic person, being with people when
they die and so forth.
Ventimiglia: Absolutely. I think Peter has been searching for his
purpose in life, aside from caring for people that won't be around
for much longer. So having this belief that he can fly, and having
that taken away and it's his brother. There's such disappointment,
but there's the potential that he has a different ability, and how
potentially selfish could he get because he's never had anything for
himself. It's always been about his brother and other people. I think
that's an interesting dynamic to play.
IGN TV: How soon do you guys share scenes?
Both: Very soon.
Oka: Answers will be given. Trust the writers will not disappoint the
viewers. There'll always be more questions, but answers will come.
Brown alum snags big role in NBC series 'Heroes'
When Masi Oka '97 graduated from Brown with a degree in computer
science, he never expected that within a few short years he would
appear in such television series as "Scrubs," "Will and Grace"
and "Gilmore Girls." This September marks a new chapter in Oka's
career, as he prepares for his first leading role in the NBC
series "Heroes," which will premiere Monday, Sept. 25.
"Heroes is about ordinary people with extraordinary abilities," Oka
said in a phone interview. "My character, Hiro Nakamura, finds that
he has the power to bend the time and space continuum using sheer
willpower. The show is about how he learns to deal with this new
reality - will he be afraid or exhilarated?"
Though Oka participated in a few theater productions while at Brown,
he dedicated the majority of his extracurricular time to the Bear
Necessities a cappella group. Oka served as the group's musical
director his senior year.
Oka knew he wanted a career that would allow him to exercise both the
logical and creative parts of his mind, but he was unsure how to
pursue this goal until one fateful meeting at a career fair.
"Lucas Films came to our career fair my senior year," Oka
said. "Until then I hadn't even considered that I could use my
knowledge of computer science to work on films."
After a series of interviews, Oka landed a job for Industrial Light
and Magic in San Francisco and began working in the research and
development department. He wrote applications to create images for
special effects for "Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the
Clones," "The Hulk," "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" and "The
War of the Worlds," among others.
After a few years, however, Oka asked ILM to transfer him to its Los
Angeles office so he could pursue a career in acting while continuing
to work on special effects. He was allowed to transfer on the
condition that he would return to San Francisco if he did not
successfully land a pilot or recurring role within one year.
"I thought that if nothing else at least I'd have a story to tell my
grandchildren, so I got my Screen Actors Guild card and decided to
give the whole L.A. thing a try," Oka said. "I happened to be
fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time."
Oka moved to Los Angeles with no connections and little direction. "I
started from scratch," he said. "I was fortunate enough to get some
Asian roles that are otherwise pretty closed. When you start acting
your first roles are often very specialized and can help you find
some way to stand out. I can do comedy and the pool of funny Asian-
American males is relatively small so that really helped."
In addition to his acting talent, Oka is a skilled improvisational
comic, and he trained with the Second City and Improv Olympic comedy
groups after moving to Los Angeles. Oka displayed his improvisational
talents in appearances on "Reno 911," "Punk'd" and "The Jamie Kennedy
"I really love improvising," Oka said. "It worked well with my full-
time job and gave me the chance to grow as a performer because it's
definitely a nerve-wracking experience at times."
Oka got his first big acting break after pitching a pilot
for "Straight White Male," a half-hour, single-camera comedy for FX.
Though that show did not take off, the same directors who viewed the
pilot asked Oka to "do them a favor by taking a recurring role in
Scrubs," Oka said. "I couldn't believe it; I kept asking if they were
sure I was really doing them a favor by taking the part."
Oka said he enjoyed the time he spent acting as Franklyn
on "Scrubs." "It really helped me as a professional and gave me
Oka has continued to stay in touch with Brown alums. In his fourth
year in Los Angeles, Oka worked to start the Brown University
Entertainment Group for alums in the area.
"I was inspired by the fact that I had heard there was something of
a 'Brown mafia' in L.A.," Oka said. "I happened to meet a director
from "Scrubs" who was also a Brown alum and realized that Brown alums
should really start working together. I have so much respect for
Brown alums - how they work and think - so I started gathering
For Oka, "Heroes" represents the chance to branch out of
stereotypical roles while playing a character he feels very connected
"Rarely do you get a part like this that is so well drawn out," Oka
said. "My character is the comic relief. He has a childlike heart and
is extremely optimistic, and in many ways he's really an extension of
who I am. I was born in Japan, like my character, and that has also
allowed me to talk to the writers and help them make a realistic
portrait of a Japanese character - which is really exciting for me."
Though Oka's career has begun to accelerate, he continues to work for
ILM and said he is very thankful for the company's support.
"I still consult for ILM to keep the analytical side of my brain
active," Oka said. "I'm really appreciative that they gave me the
opportunity and freedom to pursue a career in acting which provided
me with a wonderfully stable income."
Though Oka loves acting, he said he also has his eyes set on a
possible future as a director, which would allow him to use both the
creative and logical parts of his mind simultaneously.
"As a series regular I'm more involved in collaboration which means
less waiting than I had to deal with in the past, but even so I do
miss problem-solving at times." Oka said. "I'd love to go into
direction or production so that I could be focused on both the
technical and personal elements of film."
Oka said he really encourages all students at Brown who are
considering a career in acting to stick with it and not to give
up. "In retrospect I realize that it was naive to think that I would
try acting for only a year. I've come to realize that acting is a
marathon, not a sprint," Oka said. "And don't listen too much to the
(Department of Modern Culture and Media) and become too analytical or
cynical about the industry, because acting is about having fun."
[EXCLUSIVE] MASI OKA AND SCOTT PORTER
The stars of hot NBC programs `Heroes' and `Friday Night Lights'
discover they have many common interests, including comics, singing a
cappella and fantasy football
By Mel Caylo
A little over a month ago, a pair of NBC publicists pitched me on a
great idea: Since Masi Oka (who plays Hiro on "Heroes") and Scott
Porter (who plays Jason Street on "Friday Night Lights") are both
into comics, wouldn't it be a great idea if they just interviewed
What a novel idea, I thought. I agreed to the concept, and since Oka
shoots in Los Angeles, Porter was in Austin, Texas, and I was in New
York, we had to find a mutual time of availability. Thanks to Kristy
and Jessica's diligence, in a few short days thereafter, we were able
to conference everyone in, and I was basically a fly on the wall as
Porter and Okawho only marginally knew each other before thishad an
entertaining casual conversation, talking about what life is like
now, comics, and of all things, vocal percussion. By the end, they
realized how much they really had in common.
This discussion took place the day after "Friday Night Lights"
debuted, and by this time, two episodes of "Heroes" had already
aired. We debated when to run this great transcript, and in the name
of synergy, we decided now was a great time because Wizard World
Texas has just added Scott Porter and "Friday Night Lights" costar
Adrianne Palicki (who also played Kara/Supergirl on "Smallville") as
special guests! They will be appearing at the show on Saturday, Nov.
11 for a signing. (Go here to purchase your tickets!)
Here now is the transcript of Porter and Oka's conversation that
SCOTT PORTER: How's it going?
MASI OKA: It's going great. How's life in you guys are in Austin,
SCOTT PORTER: Yeah, that's where we're shooting. We've been here
since July. I spent a month back here in February, too. It's been
fun. I dig it down here. There's a lot of live music and a lot of
good food. I've had to watch my weight a little bit. Are you out in
MASI OKA: I am definitely still in L.A. We're shooting over at Sunset
Gower [studios]. A lot of location stuff, but we've finally settled
down into doing a lot of internal exterior sets on Sunset Gower. So
that's kind of nice.
SCOTT PORTER: Very cool. Congrats on opening with "Heroes."
MASI OKA: Thank you very much.
SCOTT PORTER: I've seen the first two episodes. I saw the pilot like
a year ago, like as soon as I could get my hands on it, and then I
saw the second episode as soon as I could get my hands on that one,
too, and then I watched them again on TV to give them a bump in the
ratings. I'm not network biased, but I have to tell you, that it's my
favorite show out there right now.
MASI OKA: Thank you very much. That means a lot. I love your show,
too. I got a chance to see it last night. It's so well done, and your
character, [Jason Street,] you just feel for him. I'm so curious what
happens now that he's in the hospital.
SCOTT PORTER: Maybe you have to watch and see. I don't see him
returning to the field any time soon and I think it's great. What I
would say is that if you watch a movie and you see a main character
get injured as severely as Jason does, it's kind of the end of his
journey within the movie. It's like, "Okay, well he's done." But in a
TV show you got so many possibilities of where you can go. So it's
kind of the beginning of a great journey for Jason. I'm just looking
forward to playing it out and seeing where he ends up. He's got a
tough skin and he might find a new sport here in the near future,
something that he can do while he's recuperating. So we'll see what's
But what about you? Dude, I dig your character so much. I dig Hiro. I
lived in Japan for nine months.
MASI OKA: Oh, where were you in Japan?
SCOTT PORTER: I lived right outside of Tokyo and I worked for Tokyo
Disneyland for a while.
MASI OKA: Really?
SCOTT PORTER: Yeah, it was great. I found this little American comic
shop down in Shibuya down by the square and I would go there every
week and get my books and then go read in the Starbucks there that
overlooks that huge intersection there.
MASI OKA: Nice. That's awesome!
SCOTT PORTER: Were you originally from Tokyo, or were you born in
MASI OKA: Yeah. I was actually born in Japan and I moved to L.A. when
I was six. But I've gone back like every year and I still read my
manga and watch Japanese TV so that I'm still in touch with the
culture. I had to go to like Saturday school over here. Saturday
school was where they cram a whole week of Japanese education,
including like math and science and history and language and society,
into one day. So that's how I kind of kept up with my Japanese
SCOTT PORTER: That's a great connect. That's a lot to swallow in one
MASI OKA: Yeah, well growing up it sucked though because I was the
quintessential geek. Everyone made fun of me for going to school on a
sixth day. I wanted to watch Saturday-morning cartoons like the rest
of the world, but my mom would say, "No. You have to go to school." I
was like, "Ugh!" But now I'm really thankful of course.
SCOTT PORTER: Watching ["Heroes,"] I dig the fact that none of the
characters on the show have self-explanatory powers. They're all like
tangents off of like existing powers that you would have in comic
books. They have a very interesting take on them in that no one is
cut and dry like, "This is what they do and this is how they do it."
Do you have any theories on Hiro, exactly how he teleports, why he
jumps five weeks into the future when he tries to go to New York?
MASI OKA: I don't know exactly how. I don't know how they got that,
but I just know that Hiro believes in it. My personal theory is that
he just doesn't have control over his power yet and the whole idea of
bending time and space is kind of interconnected within that world.
So when he tries to teleport, I think that it's harder for him to
teleport and when he does that he has less control and he manipulates
the space-time continuum at the same time. The farther it is, the
more work he has to do.
SCOTT PORTER: Does he just stay in one place and then everything
around him changes?
MASI OKA: See, I haven't really thought deeply in terms of that. The
way that I kind of approach it is that he kind of puts himself into
the sixth dimension. It's all these sort of Marvel theories that
there is only one space-time continuum versus like the DC theory
which is you can have a several universes.
My theory is that we live in a five-dimensional world actually like
any molecule, or any atom in time can be described by the first three
dimensions which is like spacex, y, z. I actually believe in a fifth
dimension, which is kind of like the Alpha Fate Factor, so that any
time you go back in time, at the moment that you go back in time you
create a fork in the road. So you create a parallel universe any time
that you go back. I know you have theories as well because you're a
big comic book fan as well, right?
SCOTT PORTER: Yeah. I'm a huge fan. I've been reading since I was
six. The first issue I got was an Uncanny X-Men where at the end of
the Nimrod tale where Harry Lelandwho is part of the Hellfire Club
helps the X-Men and The Hellfire Club to team up and beat Nimrod, but
then he dies in the process. So it was like a great sacrifice. It was
a great dramatic issue. It was all these characters and I was trying
to figure out what they all did and I only had that one issue, and it
just sparked an interest in me and my imagination started running
wild. I was an only child at the time and so I spent a lot of time
MASI OKA: I'm an only child as well. You have imaginary friends
through your comic books.
SCOTT PORTER: Yeah. I guess that right now, I'm kind of branching off
from superhero books into some different type of books. I'm reading
some Image books and I'm reading some Robert Kirkman right nowpretty
much anything he wr<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)