Masi Oka

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Masi Oka
Masi Oka by Gage Skidmore 2.jpg
Born (1974-12-27) December 27, 1974 (age 47)
Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan
EducationBrown University (BS)
OccupationActor, producer, digital effects artist
Years active1998–present

Masayori "Masi" Oka (岡 政偉, Oka Masayori, December 27, 1974)[1][2] is a Japanese[3] actor, producer, and digital effects artist who became widely known for starring in NBC's Heroes as Hiro Nakamura and in CBS's Hawaii Five-0 as Doctor Max Bergman.[4]

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.[5] He was six years old when his mother and he moved to Los Angeles from Japan.[6] At age eight, he appeared on the CBS-TV game show Child's Play. In 1987, a 12-year-old Oka was featured as one of several children on the cover of Time magazine, for the article "Those Asian-American Whiz Kids."[7] Though he was not featured in the article itself, he was acquainted with the photographer who conducted the shoot.[8] 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.[9]

Oka attended Brown University, where he was musical director of The Bear Necessities all-male a cappella group.[10] He graduated in 1997 with a BS in computer science and mathematics and a minor in theater arts.[11]

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.[11] He 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.[12] He worked on the Star Wars prequel trilogy.[8]

Acting career[edit]

Oka in 2007

2000–2005: Move to Los Angeles and working actor[edit]

Oka first tried acting in 2000. He earned a Screen Actors Guild card by appearing in industry films, then moved to Los Angeles.[13] ILM stipulated in his contract that he could work at its Los Angeles branch but would have to return to their Marin County, California, location if he did not get cast for a recurring role that season. Oka was cast in a television pilot, and although the show was not picked up, it satisfied the contract's requirements, and he was allowed to work in Los Angeles.

During this period, Oka landed several minor roles in film and television, such as Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002) and the "Dances with Couch" episode of the sitcom Yes, Dear.[citation needed] He eventually landed a recurring role as Franklyn on the NBC comedy Scrubs.[14]

He was featured in a North American commercial for Sega's 2002 PlayStation 2 video game, Shinobi, with the catchphrase 'Shinobi's back!' in front of Sega's 1987 Shinobi arcade cabinet.[citation needed]

2006–2010: Heroes and mainstream recognition[edit]

In 2006, Oka was cast as the time-manipulating Hiro Nakamura in the NBC television series Heroes. Oka translated his own dialogue for the show, from English to Japanese;[15] English subtitles accompanied his Japanese dialogue on the show. Prior to this, he was expecting to forgo acting by the end of that year's pilot season in lieu of pursuing writing and producing. Heroes was a breakout hit, and his portrayal of Nakamura earned him nominations for both a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film and a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, the only actor on the show to be nominated on either award shows.[14][16] He was named the Coolest Geek at the Spike TV Guys' Choice Awards on June 13, 2007.[17] In 2007, he presented an award with Heroes co-star Hayden Panettiere on the 20th annual Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards.[citation needed]

In addition to his work on the show, he continued to work at ILM up to three days a week as a research and development technical director, writing programs that create special effects.[11]

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.

2010–present: Hawaii Five-0 and other projects[edit]

Oka played the coroner Dr. Max Bergman in CBS' Hawaii Five-0, a remake of the original series which aired from 1968 to 1980.[18] He joined the show's main cast in the second series. His character was written as an ethnic Japanese who was adopted at birth by Jewish parents, hence his last name. Oka also made an appearance in the film Friends with Benefits.

In 2015, Oka reprised his role as Hiro Nakamura in NBC's miniseries Heroes Reborn.[19]

Oka has turned his digital effects skills to video game production, founding the video game development studio Mobius Digital.[20]

Personal life[edit]

Oka is fluent in Japanese, English and Spanish. He worked on the 1992 Summer Olympics as an English, Spanish, and Japanese translator.[21] He played chess in his youth and had an Elo rating of 1800.[22]

Similar to his character Hiro Nakamura, Oka also collects manga.[23] He co-produced the 2017 American adaptation of the manga series Death Note. He also founded the video game studio Mobius Digital Games, mainly known for its game Outer Wilds.[24]

He has earned the rank of black belt in kendō (Japanese fencing).[25][26]



Year Title Role Notes
2001 Dharma & Greg Nien-Jin
2001 Citizen Baines Staffer Dan
2001 Gilmore Girls Philosophy Student
2002 Yes, Dear Talking Rock
2002 Sabrina, the Teenage Witch Male Council Member
2002 She Spies Guy
2002–2003 The Jamie Kennedy Experiment Various 4 episodes
2002–2004 Scrubs Franklyn 5 episodes
2003 On the Spot Japanese Tourist
2003 Luis Deng Wu 9 episodes
2004 Still Standing Ronald
2004 All of Us Edwin
2005 Less Than Perfect Hideki
2005 Reno 911! Translator
2005 Joey Arthur
2005 God Wears My Underwear Brother Eo Voice only
2005 Punk'd Translator
2006 Reba IRS Agent Phung
2006 Without a Trace Wei Fan
2006 The Loop Wang
2006 The Sarah Silverman Program Clerk
2006–2010 Heroes Hiro Nakamura 66 episodes
Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor on Television (2006)
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film (2006)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (2007)
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film (2007)
Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor on Television (2007)
2007 Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip Himself
2007 Reno 911! Foreign Tourist
2007 Robot Chicken Japanese Mr. Rogers / Chachi Voice only
2008 Discovery Atlas Narrator Episode "Japan Revealed"
2010–2017; 2019 Hawaii Five-0 Doctor Max Bergman Recurring (Season 1);
Main (Seasons 2–7);
97 episodes;

Guest (Season 10)

2015 Heroes Reborn Hiro Nakamura 3 episodes
2018 Mozart in the Jungle Fukumoto 4 episodes
2021 Star Wars: Visions Ethan (voice) Short film: The Ninth Jedi: English language dub[27]
TBA Blue Eye Samurai Voice only


Year Title Role Notes
2002 Austin Powers in Goldmember Japanese Pedestrian
2003 Uh-Oh! Asian Man
2003 Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde Congressional Intern Uncredited
2004 Along Came Polly Wonsuk
2005 The Proud Family Movie Japanese Kid/Announcer Voice only
2005 Noroi: The Curse Self
2005 House of the Dead 2 Stanley Tong
2006 One Sung Hero KJ Short film
2007 Balls of Fury Feng's men's room attendant
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 Direct to video
2008 The Promotion Loan Officer
2009 Fired Up Eagle Mascot
2010 Searching for Sonny Sonny Bosco
2011 Friends with Benefits Darin Arturo Morena
2013 Jobs Ken Tanaka
2017 Death Note Detective Sasaki Also producer
2018 The Meg Toshi
2019 Spies in Disguise Katsu Kimura Voice role
2022 Bullet Train Conductor

Video games[edit]

Year Title Notes
2007 Driver '76 Jimmy Yip Voice role[28]
2019 Outer Wilds Producer

Digital effects artist[edit]

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
The Perfect Storm Digital artist: ILM
2002 Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones Digital effects artist: ILM
2003 Hulk Technical director: ILM
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines CG artist: ILM
2005 Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith Digital artist: ILM
War of the Worlds Digital artist: ILM
2006 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest Digital artist: ILM


Year Title Role
2013 World War Z Kondo Tatsumi


  1. ^ a b "Masi Oka 1974–". Biography Today. Omnigraphics, Inc. 17 (1): 99. 2007. ISSN 1058-2347.
  2. ^ Oka, Masi (December 27, 2020). "多くの誕生日祝いコメントありがとうございます!Thank you for the birthday wishes! 2021 is around the corner. Stay safe, everyone". Twitter.
  3. ^ Masi Oka [@masioka] (October 21, 2020). "I can't vote because I'm not a US citizen. But you can. Use your power. Let your voice be heard. Vote!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  4. ^ """Heroes'" Masi Oka is super-geeky"". May 14, 2007. Retrieved May 4, 2018.
  5. ^ Tavis Smiley (2007-04-27). "Masi Oka". PBS. Retrieved 2007-05-09.
  6. ^ Biography Today, p.100
  7. ^ "Asian-American Whiz Kids". Time. 1987-08-31. Archived from the original on December 16, 2006. Retrieved 2008-12-17.
  8. ^ a b ""Heroes" Star: Former "Whiz Kid"". 2006-11-27. Retrieved 2007-03-12.
  9. ^ "Masi Oka (star of Heroes) on cover of Time in 1987". 2006-11-21. Archived from the original on 2009-02-07. Retrieved 2008-11-11.
  10. ^ Rapkin, Mickey (2008). Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory, p.11. Penguin Group, London. ISBN 1-59240-376-X, 9781592403769
  11. ^ a b c Shen, Maxine (2006-10-15). "Heroes". New York Post. Archived from the original on 2007-02-24. Retrieved 2007-03-12.
  12. ^ Raine, George (1998-06-07). "Now Hiring".
  13. ^ Gaudiosi, John (2006-10-25). "Masi Oka: Coder, Actor, Hero". Wired. Retrieved 2007-03-12.
  14. ^ a b Kuhn, Sarah (2007-02-09). "Airborne at Last!". Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-12.
  15. ^ Keveney, Bill (2006-11-09). "'Heroes' star Masi Oka living the dream". USA Today. Retrieved 2007-03-12.
  16. ^ "Heroes". Television Academy. Retrieved 2020-03-10.
  17. ^ Casey, Jordan (June 11, 2007). "Spike TV Holds First Annual Guys Choice Awards Show". All Headline News. Archived from the original on February 13, 2008.
  18. ^ "Heroes' Masi Oka to Play Hawaii Five-0 Coroner". Retrieved August 12, 2010.
  19. ^ "Masi Oka returns as Hiro in 'Heroes Reborn'". March 30, 2015.
  20. ^ "MEET THE MOBIUS TEAM". July 21, 2020.
  21. ^ Biography Today, p.101
  22. ^ Oka, Masi. "Hikaru Nakamura vs Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka of Heroes)". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-19. Retrieved 29 January 2021.
  23. ^ SFX Collection – Special Edition #31: Total Anime, page 15 (UK-based sci-fi magazine)
  24. ^ "Team – Mobius Digital". Retrieved 2019-05-30.
  25. ^ Greg David (2007-01-18). "There goes my Hiro". TV Guide. Archived from the original on 2007-02-16. Retrieved 2007-05-10.
  26. ^ Heroes Season 1 dvd, stunt special feature
  27. ^ "Stunning New Star Wars: Visions Trailer Debuts". 2021-08-17. Retrieved 2021-08-17.
  28. ^ Sumo Digital; Ubisoft Reflections. Driver 76. Ubisoft. Scene: Ending credits, 2:32:09 in, Voice Actors.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)

External links[edit]