Masayori "Masi" Oka (岡 政偉, Oka Masayori, b. 1974) is a Japanese actor, producer, and digital effects artist who became widely known for his role on NBC's Heroes as Hiro Nakamura and in CBS's Hawaii Five-0 as Doctor Max Bergman.
Oka at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con International
1974 (age 45–46)
|Alma mater||Brown University|
|Occupation||Actor, producer, digital effects artist|
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 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." Though he was not featured in the article itself, he was acquainted with the photographer who conducted the shoot. 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.
Oka attended Brown University, where he served as the musical director of The Bear Necessities all-male a cappella group. He graduated in 1997 with a BS in computer science and mathematics and a minor in theater arts.
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.
2000–2005: Move to Los Angeles and working actorEdit
Oka first tried 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 later got cast on 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.
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 Yes, Dear. He eventually got a recurring role as Franklyn on the NBC 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.
2006–2010: Heroes and mainstream recognitionEdit
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; 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 turned out to be 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. 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.
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.
2010–present: Hawaii Five-0 and other projectsEdit
Oka plays the coroner Dr. Max Bergman in CBS' Hawaii Five-0, a remake of original series which aired from 1968 to 1980. 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.
Oka has also turned his digital effects skills to video game production, founding the video game development studio Mobius Digital.
Similar to his character Hiro Nakamura, Oka also collects manga. He co-produced the 2017 American adaptation of the manga series Death Note. He also founded the video game studio Mobius Digital Games, which is mainly known for its game Outer Wilds.
|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|
|2002–2003||The Jamie Kennedy Experiment||Various||4 episodes|
|2003||On the Spot||Japanese Tourist|
|2003||Luis||Deng Wu||9 episodes|
|2004||All of Us||Edwin|
|2005||Less Than Perfect||Hideki|
|2005||God Wears My Underwear||Brother Eo||Voice only|
|2006||Reba||IRS Agent Phung|
|2006||Without a Trace||Wei Fan|
|2006||The Sarah Silverman Program||Clerk|
|2006–2010||Heroes||Hiro Nakamura||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||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);
Guest (Season 10)
|2015||Heroes Reborn||Hiro Nakamura||3 episodes|
|2018||Mozart in the Jungle||Fukumoto||4 episodes|
|2002||Austin Powers in Goldmember||Japanese Pedestrian|
|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||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'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|
|2017||Death Note||Detective Sasaki||Also producer|
|2019||Spies in Disguise||Katsu Kimura||Voice role|
Digital effects artistEdit
|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|
|2013||World War Z||Kondo Tatsumi|
- "Masi Oka 1974-". Biography Today. Omnigraphics, Inc. 17 (1): 99. 2007. ISSN 1058-2347.
- """Heroes'" Masi Oka is super-geeky"". May 14, 2007. Retrieved May 4, 2018.
- Tavis Smiley (2007-04-27). "Masi Oka". PBS. Retrieved 2007-05-09.
- Biography Today, p.100
- "Asian-American Whiz Kids". Time. 1987-08-31. Retrieved 2008-12-17.
- ""Heroes" Star: Former "Whiz Kid"". TMZ.com. 2006-11-27. Retrieved 2007-03-12.
- "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.
- Rapkin, Mickey (2008). Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory, p.11. Penguin Group, London. ISBN 1-59240-376-X, 9781592403769
- Shen, Maxine (2006-10-15). "Heroes". New York Post. Archived from the original on 2007-02-24. Retrieved 2007-03-12.
- Raine, George (1998-06-07). "Now Hiring". sfgate.com.
- Gaudiosi, John (2006-10-25). "Masi Oka: Coder, Actor, Hero". Wired. Retrieved 2007-03-12.
- Kuhn, Sarah (2007-02-09). "Airborne at Last!". Back Stage. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-12.
- Keveney, Bill (2006-11-09). "'Heroes' star Masi Oka living the dream". USA Today. Retrieved 2007-03-12.
- "Heroes". Television Academy. Retrieved 2020-03-10.
- 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.
- "Heroes' Masi Oka to Play Hawaii Five-0 Coroner". TVGuide.com. Retrieved August 12, 2010.
- "Masi Oka returns as Hiro in 'Heroes Reborn'". cnet. March 30, 2015.
- "MEET THE MOBIUS TEAM". July 21, 2020.
- Biography Today, p.101
- SFX Collection - Special Edition #31: Total Anime, page 15 (UK-based sci-fi magazine)
- "Team - Mobius Digital". Retrieved 2019-05-30.
- Greg David (2007-01-18). "There goes my Hiro". TV Guide. Archived from the original on 2007-02-16. Retrieved 2007-05-10.
- Heroes Season 1 dvd, stunt special feature
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Masi Oka.|
- Masi Oka on IMDb
- Daily Telegraph Article
- NY Times Article
- Brown University "From Special Effects to Acting, CS Alum Masi Oka is One of the 'Heroes'"
- Brown Daily Herald by Alissa Cerny 9/18/06 "Brown alum snags big role in NBC series 'Heroes'"
- Time magazine cover - August 31, 1987 (Masi Oka is to the farthest left)
- Nichi Bei Times Interview
- San Francisco Chronicle Article