Masi Oka

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In this Japanese name, the family name is "Oka".
Masi Oka
Masi Oka.jpg
Oka at VivoCity in Singapore while on the 2007 Heroes World Tour.
Born Masayori Oka
(1974-12-27) December 27, 1974 (age 39)
Tokyo, Japan
Occupation Actor/Digital effects artist
Years active 1998–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[edit]

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 over 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[edit]

Masi Oka in 2007

Oka first tried his best 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", which aired on April 8, 2002. He appeared briefly in 2002's Austin Powers in Goldmember, where he delivered the line "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.

Interests[edit]

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 was at one time a leader of the raiding guild Dawn of Valor (Spinebreaker US realm) in World of Warcraft, a popular MMORPG video game. [20] His player character was named Kamiosa, an anagram of his real name. [21]

Filmography[edit]

As an actor
Year Title Role Notes
2001 Dharma & Greg Nien-Jin Television series
Guest appearance
2001 Citizen Baines Staffer Dan Television series
Guest appearance
2001 Gilmore Girls Philosophy Student Television series
Guest appearance
2002 Yes, Dear Talking Rock Television series
Guest appearance
2002 Sabrina, the Teenage Witch Male Council Member Television series
Guest appearance
2002 Austin Powers in Goldmember Japanese Pedestrian
2002 She Spies Guy Television series
Guest appearance
2002–2003 Jamie Kennedy Experiment, TheThe Jamie Kennedy Experiment Various Television series
4 episodes
2002–2004 Scrubs Franklyn Television series
5 episodes
2003 On the Spot Japanese Tourist Television series
Guest appearance
2003 Uh-Oh! Asian Man
2003 Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde Congressional Intern Uncredited
2003 Luis Deng Wu Television series
2004 Along Came Polly Wonsuk
2004 Still Standing Ronald Television series
Guest appearance
2004 All of Us Edwin Television series
Guest appearance
2005 Less Than Perfect Hideki Television series
Guest appearance
2005 Reno 911! Translator Television series
Guest appearance
2005 Proud Family Movie, TheThe Proud Family Movie Japanese Kid/Announcer Television film
Voice only
2005 House of the Dead 2: Dead Aim Stanley Tong Television film
2005 Joey Arthur Television series
Guest appearance
2005 God Wears My Underwear Brother Eo Voice only
2005 Punk'd Translator Television series
Guest appearance
2006 One Sung Hero KJ Short film
2006 Reba IRS Agent Phung Television series
Guest appearance
2006 Without a Trace Wei Fan Television series
Guest appearance
2006 Loop, TheThe Loop Wang Television series
Guest appearance
2006 Sarah Silverman Program, TheThe Sarah Silverman Program Clerk Television series
2006–2010 Heroes Hiro Nakamura Television series
66 episodes
Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor on Television
Nominated-Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Series, Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated-Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Nominated-Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor - Series, Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated-Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor on Television
2007 Balls of Fury Jeff, Feng's men's room attendant
2007 Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip Himself Television series
Guest appearance
2007 Reno 911! Foreign Tourist Television series
Guest appearance
2007 Robot Chicken Japanese Mr. Rogers/ Chachi Television series
Voice only
Guest appearance
2007 Jane Doe: Ties That Bind Agent Osaka Television film
2008 Get Smart Bruce
2008 Get Smart's Bruce and Lloyd: Out of Control Bruce
2008 Promotion, TheThe Promotion Loan Officer
2009 Fired Up Eagle Mascot
2010 Searching for Sonny Sonny Bosco
2010–present Hawaii Five-0 Max Bergman Television series
18 episodes
2011 Friends with Benefits Darin Arturo Morena
2013 Jobs Ken Tanaka
As a digital effects artist
Year Title Notes
1998 Mighty Joe Young CG technical assistant: Industrial Light & Magic (ILM)
1999 Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace visual effects production and technical support: ILM
2000 Mission to Mars technical support: ILM
2000 Perfect Storm, TheThe Perfect Storm digital artist: ILM
2002 Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones digital effects artist: ILM
2003 Hulk technical director: ILM
2003 Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines CG artist: ILM
2005 Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith digital artist: ILM
2005 War of the Worlds digital artist: ILM
2006 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest digital artist: ILM
As narrator
Year Title Notes
2008 Discovery Atlas Episode "Japan Revealed"
As audiobook narrator
Year Title Role
2013 World War Z Kondo Tatsumi

References[edit]

  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. Retrieved 2008-12-17. 
  5. ^ a b ""Heroes" Star: Former "Whiz Kid"". TMZ.com. 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". sfgate.com. Retrieved 1998-06-07. 
  11. ^ Gaudiosi, John (2006-10-25). "Masi Oka: Coder, Actor, Hero". Wired. 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"; allheadlinenews.com; June 11, 2007.
  15. ^ "Heroes' Masi Oka to Play Hawaii Five-0 Coroner". TVGuide.com. 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. 
  21. ^ "WOW - Dawn of Valor - Kamiosa - WarcraftRealms.com". 2006-02-18. Retrieved 2013-11-24. 

External links[edit]