Oka at the Los Angeles premiere of Horrible Bosses in June 2011
|Occupation||Actor/Digital effects artist|
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. He played Koji in Mater National in 2007.
Oka was born in Tokyo, Japan, to Setsuko Oka. His parents divorced when he was one month old; he was raised in a single parent family and has never met his father. He was six years old when his mother and he moved to Los Angeles from Japan. 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". Though he was not featured in the article itself, he was acquainted with the photographer who conducted the shoot. His IQ has been reported at 180.
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. 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."
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.
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 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; 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 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.
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 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. He has been a guild leader for Dawn of Valor in World of Warcraft, a popular MMORPG video game.