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Masi Oka (born , December 27, 1974) is an Emmy and Golden Globe Award nominated American actor, as well as a digital effects artist.

He has performed in many films and TV shows, and is currently cast in the role of Hiro Nakamura in the NBC series Heroes. He recently appeared in the film Get Smart.

He currently lives in Los Angeles, Californiamarker.

Biography

Early life

Masi Oka was born in Tokyomarker, Japanmarker. His parents divorced when he was one month old; he was raised in a single parent family and has never met his father. His mother moved to Los Angelesmarker, Californiamarker, United Statesmarker when he was six. At the age of eight, he appeared on 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". Though he was not featured in the article itself, he was acquainted with the photographer who conducted the shoot..

He attended elementary school at The Mirman School and graduated high school from Harvard-Westlake Schoolmarker in 1992. He graduated from Brown Universitymarker 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 acappella group. Oka described the group as a "brothership."

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. 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. He worked on the Star Wars prequel trilogy.

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. ILM stipulated in his contract that he could work at its Los Angeles branch, but would have to return to their Marin Countymarker 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 ABC comedy Scrubs. He was also featured in a North American commercial for Sega's PlayStation 2 video game, Shinobi, with the catch phrase 'Shinobi's back!' in front of Sega's 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; 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. 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. He played the role of Bruce in the big screen version of Get Smart.

He recently signed on to play a real estate broker who is trying to sell to Sean 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. In 2007, he presented an award with Heroes co-star Hayden Panettiere on the 20th annual Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards.

Interests

Oka is fluent in Japanese, English and Spanish. His hobbies include kendo where he carries the rank of shodan, 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. 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.

Filmography

As an actor

Year Title Role Notes
2001 Dharma & Greg Nien-Jen Guest appearance
Citizen Baines Staffer Dan Guest appearance
Gilmore Girls Philosophy Student Guest appearance
2002 Yes, Dear Talking Rock Guest appearance
Sabrina, the Teenage Witch Male Council Member Guest appearance
Austin Powers in Goldmember Japanese Pedestrian
She Spies Guy Guest appearance
The Jamie Kennedy Experiment Various 4 episodes 2002-2003
Scrubs Franklyn 5 episodes 2002-2004
2003 On the Spot Japanese Tourist Guest appearance
Uh-Oh! Asian Man
Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde Congressional Intern Uncredited
Luis Deng Wu
2004 Along Came Polly Wonsuk
Still Standing Ronald Guest appearance
All of Us Edwin Guest appearance
2005 Less Than Perfect Hideki Guest appearance
Reno 911! Translator Guest appearance
The Proud Family Movie Japanese Kid/Announcer Voice only
House of the Dead 2: Dead Aim Stanley Tong
Joey Arthur Guest appearance
God Wears My Underwear Brother Eo Voice only
Punk'd Translator Guest appearance
2006 One Sung Hero KJ
Reba IRS Agent Phung Guest appearance
Without a Trace Wei Fan Guest appearance
The Loop Wang Guest appearance
The Sarah Silverman Program Clerk
Heroes Hiro Nakamura 2006-present
2007 Balls of Fury Jeff, Feng's mens room attendant
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip Himself Guest appearance
Reno 911! Foreign Tourist Guest appearance
Robot Chicken Japanese Mr. Rogers/ Chachi Guest appearance
Jane Doe: Ties That Bind Agent Osaka
2008 Get Smart Bruce
Get Smart's Bruce and Lloyd: Out of Control Bruce
The Promotion Loan Officer
2009 Fired Up Eagle Mascot


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 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


As narrator

Year Title Notes
2008 Discovery Atlas Episode "Japan Revealed"


References

  1. Rapkin, Mickey (2008). Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory, p.11. Penguin Group, London. ISBN 159240376X, 9781592403769.
  2. Casey, Jordan; "Spike TV Holds First Annual Guys Choice Awards Show"; allheadlinenews.com; June 11, 2007.
  3. Heroes Season 1 dvd, stunt special feature
  4. SFX Collection - Special Edition #31: Total Anime, page 15 (UK-based sci-fi magazine)


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