Masi Oka

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Masi Oka

Oka at the Heroes roadshow in Singapore, August 2007
BornMasayori Oka
(1974-12-27) December 27, 1974 (age 37)
Tokyo, Japan
OccupationActor/Digital effects artist
Years active1998—present
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Masi Oka

Oka at the Heroes roadshow in Singapore, August 2007
BornMasayori Oka
(1974-12-27) December 27, 1974 (age 37)
Tokyo, Japan
OccupationActor/Digital effects artist
Years active1998—present

Masayori "Masi" Oka (岡 政偉 Oka Masayori?) (born December 27, 1974) is a Japanese-American actor and digital effects artist. He became widely known for his role on NBC's Heroes as Hiro Nakamura.


Early life

Oka was born in Tokyo, Japan, to Setsuko Oka.[1] His parents divorced when he was one month old; he was raised in a single parent family and has never met his father.[2] He was six years old when his mother and he moved to Los Angeles from Japan.[3]At age eight, he appeared on the CBS-TV game show Child's Play. In 1987, a twelve-year-old Oka was featured on the cover of Time titled "Those Asian-American Whiz Kids".[4] Though he was not featured in the article itself, he was acquainted with the photographer who conducted the shoot.[5] His IQ has been reported at 180.[6]

He attended elementary school at The Mirman School and graduated high school from Harvard-Westlake School in 1992. After he graduated, he worked on the 1992 Summer Olympics as an English, Spanish, and Japanese translator.[7]He graduated from Brown University in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science and mathematics. While at Brown, he also served as the musical director of The Bear Necessities, an all-male a cappella group. Oka described the group as a "brothership."[8]

Oka landed his first job after graduation at Industrial Light & Magic, George Lucas's motion picture visual special effects company, with the hope of one day earning an Oscar for technical work on a motion picture.[9] Oka was also featured in the San Francisco Chronicle with ILM co-worker Anthony Shafer in a pre-dot-com article where he echoed his desire to meld acting and technology.[10] He worked on the Star Wars prequel trilogy.[5]

Acting career

Oka first tried his hand at acting in 2000. He earned a Screen Actors Guild card by appearing in industry films, then moved to Los Angeles.[11] ILM stipulated in his contract that he could work at its Los Angeles branch, but would have to return to their Marin County location if he did not get cast for a recurring role that season. Oka did get cast for a pilot. Although the show was not picked up, it did satisfy the contract's requirements and he was allowed to stay in Los Angeles. He decided to continue pursuing acting. He landed several guest spots and then a recurring role as Franklyn on the NBC/ABC comedy Scrubs. He was also featured in a North American commercial for Sega's 2002 PlayStation 2 video game, Shinobi, with the catch phrase 'Shinobi's back!' in front of Sega's 1987 Shinobi arcade cabinet. Oka guest starred in the Yes, Dear episode "Dances with Couch", aired April 8, 2002.

Oka also has a 20-second spot in Austin Powers in Goldmember where he had to say "It looks like Godzilla, but due to international copyright laws, it's not".

In 2006, Oka was cast for the role of Hiro Nakamura in Heroes. Oka translates his dialogue from the show's scripts from English to Japanese;[12] English subtitles accompany his Japanese dialogue on the show. Additionally, Oka's real voice is closer to that of "Future Hiro" than the higher-pitched voice he uses as "Present Hiro" as heard during his appearances on Heroes.

His portrayal of the role earned him a Golden Globe Award nomination that year in the "Best Supporting Actor on a TV Series" category and an Emmy Award nomination for best supporting actor in a drama series, the only actor on Heroes to be nominated for both awards.[13] In addition to his work on the show, he continues to work at ILM up to three days a week as a Research and Development Technical Director, writing programs that create special effects.[9] He played the role of Bruce in the big screen version of Get Smart.

He played a real estate broker who is trying to sell to Seann William Scott's character in Steve Conrad's The Promotion.

He was named the "Coolest Geek" at the Spike TV Guys' Choice Awards on June 13, 2007.[14] In 2007, he presented an award with Heroes co-star Hayden Panettiere on the 20th annual Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards.

Oka plays the American-born coroner Max Bergman in CBS' Hawaii Five-0 reboot.[15] He joined the series' main cast in season 2.

Oka made an appearance in the film Friends with Benefits.

Oka currently resides in Los Angeles, California.


Oka is fluent in Japanese, English and Spanish. His hobbies include kendo[16] where he carries the rank of shodan,[17] playing video games, watching and writing romantic comedies, playing the piano, beatboxing, and singing. He avidly collects manga; his current favorites include Eyeshield 21, One Piece and PLUTO, and he professes to be a big fan of Naoki Urasawa's other works.[18] In 1988, he placed fourth in the California state MATHCOUNTS competition, and was one of the four students to represent the state of California in the national competition.[19] He has been a guild leader for Dawn of Valor in World of Warcraft, a popular MMORPG video game.[20]


As an actor
2001Dharma & GregNien-JenTelevision series
Guest appearance
Citizen BainesStaffer DanTelevision series
Guest appearance
Gilmore GirlsPhilosophy StudentTelevision series
Guest appearance
2002Yes, DearTalking RockTelevision series
Guest appearance
Sabrina, the Teenage WitchMale Council MemberTelevision series
Guest appearance
Austin Powers in GoldmemberJapanese Pedestrian
She SpiesGuyTelevision series
Guest appearance
2002–2003Jamie Kennedy Experiment, TheThe Jamie Kennedy ExperimentVariousTelevision series
4 episodes
2002–2004ScrubsFranklynTelevision series
5 episodes
2003On the SpotJapanese TouristTelevision series
Guest appearance
Uh-Oh!Asian Man
Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & BlondeCongressional InternUncredited
LuisDeng WuTelevision series
2004Along Came PollyWonsuk
Still StandingRonaldTelevision series
Guest appearance
All of UsEdwinTelevision series
Guest appearance
2005Less Than PerfectHidekiTelevision series
Guest appearance
Reno 911!TranslatorTelevision series
Guest appearance
Proud Family Movie, TheThe Proud Family MovieJapanese Kid/AnnouncerTelevision film
Voice only
House of the Dead 2: Dead AimStanley TongTelevision film
JoeyArthurTelevision series
Guest appearance
God Wears My UnderwearBrother EoVoice only
Punk'dTranslatorTelevision series
Guest appearance
2006One Sung HeroKJShort film
RebaIRS Agent PhungTelevision series
Guest appearance
Without a TraceWei FanTelevision series
Guest appearance
Loop, TheThe LoopWangTelevision series
Guest appearance
Sarah Silverman Program, TheThe Sarah Silverman ProgramClerkTelevision series
2006–2010HeroesHiro NakamuraTelevision series
66 episodes
2007Balls of FuryJeff, Feng's mens room attendant
Studio 60 on the Sunset StripHimselfTelevision series
Guest appearance
Reno 911!Foreign TouristTelevision series
Guest appearance
Robot ChickenJapanese Mr. Rogers/ ChachiTelevision series
Voice only
Guest appearance
Jane Doe: Ties That BindAgent OsakaTelevision film
2008Get SmartBruce
Get Smart's Bruce and Lloyd: Out of ControlBruce
Promotion, TheThe PromotionLoan Officer
2009Fired UpEagle Mascot
2010Searching for SonnySonny Bosco
2010–2012Hawaii Five-0Max BergmanTelevision series
18 episodes
2011Friends with BenefitsDarin Arturo Morena
As a digital effects artist
1998Mighty Joe YoungCG technical assistant: Industrial Light & Magic (ILM)
1999Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menacevisual effects production and technical support: ILM
2000Perfect Storm, TheThe Perfect Stormdigital artist: ILM
2002Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clonesdigital effects artist: ILM
2003Hulktechnical director: ILM
Terminator 3: Rise of the MachinesCG artist: ILM
2005Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sithdigital artist: ILM
War of the Worldsdigital artist: ILM
2006Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chestdigital artist: ILM
As narrator
2008Discovery AtlasEpisode "Japan Revealed"


  1. ^ "Masi Oka 1974-". Biography Today (Omnigraphics, Inc.) 17 (1): 99. 2007. ISSN 1058-2347. 
  2. ^ Tavis Smiley (2007-04-27). "Masi Oka". PBS. Retrieved 2007-05-09. 
  3. ^ Biography Today, p.100
  4. ^ Asian-American Whiz Kids. Time. 1987-08-31.,16641,19870831,00.html. Retrieved 2008-12-17. 
  5. ^ a b ""Heroes" Star: Former "Whiz Kid"". 2006-11-27. Retrieved 2007-03-12. 
  6. ^ Biography Today, p.101
  7. ^ Biography Today, p.101
  8. ^ Rapkin, Mickey (2008). Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory, p.11. Penguin Group, London. ISBN 1-59240-376-X, 9781592403769
  9. ^ a b Shen, Maxine (2006-10-15). "Heroes". New York Post. Archived from the original on 2007-02-24. Retrieved 2007-03-12. 
  10. ^ Raine, George (1998-06-07). "Now Hiring". Retrieved 1998-06-07. 
  11. ^ Gaudiosi, John (2006-10-25). "Masi Oka: Coder, Actor, Hero". Wired.,71984-0.html. Retrieved 2007-03-12. 
  12. ^ Keveney, Bill (2006-11-09). "'Heroes' star Masi Oka living the dream". USA Today. Retrieved 2007-03-12. 
  13. ^ Kuhn, Sarah (2007-02-09). "Airborne at Last!". Back Stage. Retrieved 2007-03-12. [dead link]
  14. ^ Casey, Jordan; "Spike TV Holds First Annual Guys Choice Awards Show";; June 11, 2007.
  15. ^ "Heroes' Masi Oka to Play Hawaii Five-0 Coroner". Retrieved August 12 , 2010. 
  16. ^ Greg David (2007-01-18). "There goes my Hiro". TV Guide. Archived from the original on 2007-02-16. Retrieved 2007-05-10. 
  17. ^ Heroes Season 1 dvd, stunt special feature
  18. ^ SFX Collection - Special Edition #31: Total Anime, page 15 (UK-based sci-fi magazine)
  19. ^ "Masi Oka (star of Heroes) on cover of Time in 1987". 2006-11-21. Retrieved 2008-11-11. 
  20. ^ "Dark Horse Comics: Exclusive Interview with Felicia Day!". 2010-04-21. Retrieved 2010-04-22. 

External links