A Conversation With Heroes Actor, Masi Oka

It is with great pleasure today that I present to you an interview with the one and only Hiro of Heroes, Masi Oka! He returned to the franchise in last week’s all new episode of Heroes Reborn and tonight’s all new episode is bananas!

Longtime readers know of my deep love for Heroes. It is in my top three favorite shows of all time. Needless to say, I had the time of my life talking to Masi and luckily, I don’t have to go back in time to relive it. I can just press play.

Photo Credit: NBC/Sophie Giraud
Photo Credit: NBC/Sophie Giraud

So I’m very curious to know, did you have any say in the character arc for Hiro on Heroes Reborn?

Since I’m here as a guest actor, I definitely didn’t say much…. I had some things that I wanted to see happen to Hiro and they were really cool about that but I’m only in three episodes. Originally, I was supposed to be in the whole series but unfortunately…or fortunately, I’m blessed to be on another show, Hawaii Five-O as a series regular. So I was contracted to that and couldn’t do the whole series. If I had done the whole series, maybe I would have had a little more say but I just went with the flow and let the writers do their job.

Cool. So the show mainly shot in LA originally but it’s my understanding that the show gets to shoot elsewhere a lot more for Heroes Reborn?

Yeah! Ours was in LA and every time we teleported, we used the green screen. We used Little Tokyo as stage Tokyo a lot of the times. I think now they shot mostly in Canada. They shot in France and they’ve gone to a lot of cool places so we kind of got the short end of the stick there…

So if you could shoot anywhere in the world, where would you shoot?

I would love to shoot in Vienna…or Venice…or Machu Picchu!

If you could travel in time to a past episode of Heroes, which episode would you want to relive?

I would love to relive season one episode five because that episode was so fun…and it was the first time I got to be in a scene with Adrian Pasdar. I would definitely relive that episode or episode ten of season one when it was all about Hiro and Charlie and all of that.

Which Heroes cast member would you trust to go back in time to save you?

I would probably trust Adrian Pasdar the most because he’s like my older brother. Everyone on the original Heroes I consider my family and I would totally trust them all but Adrian was kind of the first guy who took me under his wing and taught me a lot and was like my older brother that I never had. So in that sense, I think I would trust him undoubtedly.

Now when Heroes was originally on, did you ever go on the message boards and stuff and see what the fans were saying?

You know what, I never did because during the run, by the time the fans got to see an episode, so much time had passed and we had shot so far ahead that there’s not much that we could change and the fans opinions are very important. Though I’ve always found that reading on the internet, the good stuff goes to your head and the hurtful ones go to your heart. Even if you hear one hundred amazing things, the one tool that says something really hurtful…that’s the one that you’re going to remember. So I try to stay away. You know, I’m human so I’m going to sneak in and see what people are saying…but I try to stay away as much as possible because anonymity breeds irresponsibility and some of the things that people say are so hurtful, you know?

Yeah. I’m also curious to know, what Heroes death hit you the hardest as a viewer?

When Isaac died…season one was amazing for that and then when Isaac died and when that was final…I was like, “Wow!” That was a big shock. Santiago (Cabrera) was a great guy and a great actor and no one saw it coming so I think that was probably one of the greatest deaths.

Photo via NBC
Photo via NBC

So on a lighter note, who has been your favorite new hero or what’s been your favorite storyline of Heroes Reborn so far?

It’s interesting. I do have a thing for the Japanese guys. That’s been fun and I like Robbie’s story too, he’s great. And Henry is a great guy. When I got a chance to hang out with Henry (Zebrowski), we were cracking each other up, he’s so funny. He is so fun. And you got chills in the last episode. And you never know, he might live again. Who knows. I seriously don’t know but I’ve been watching every episode.

I was so blown away when Miko drew her sword and found herself in a video game. That was so cool.

Yeah, it was very cool. I’m thinking about if that’s really a power because I’m not sure if I would consider the drawing of the sword a power but it’s pretty cool and something we haven’t seen in this kind of way.

Are you a gamer?

Yeah, absolutely!

So if you were stuck inside a video game or TV show, what would you pick to be stuck in?

If I were stuck in a TV show, I’d want to be stuck in Game of Thrones just because it’s really cool. If I was stuck in a game…oh man! I was a big World of Warcraft guy so if I could be in World of Warcraft, that would be awesome.

Now June 13th is a pivotal moment in the Heroes universe now. What’s a date in your own life that’s pivotal?

Probably December 27th since that’s when I was born.

Any birthday plans?

Nooo, the problem is that every December 27th is a sad one because everybody is out on vacation. I never got a separate Christmas, Birthday, and New Year’s, they always lumped it into one. They’d say it’s 3x the quality but it was 1.5x. (laughs) Nobody’s there to celebrate so I’ve always wanted a surprise birthday party at school because everyone had one and their parents brought them a cake to the school. And every time my birthday came, school was not in session (laughs). I’m not the grinch but the holiday seasons are pretty rough for me. Hopefully I’ll find a soulmate to celebrate it more often but I’ve not been lucky with that so….

What time period do you think your character, Max on CBS’s Hawaii Five-0 would like to go to if he could time travel?

If Max had the ability to go back in time, maybe he might go back to the Cleopatra days so that he could learn about preservation of dead bodies.

Now I know you from Heroes but I wanted to get to know some more about you and was shocked to discover so many visual effects credits on your IMDB!

Yes, that was my first job coming out of college. I worked for George Lucas’s Industrial Light & Magic.

Wow! So were you ever able to be a fly on the wall in the visual effects department on Heroes?

Kind of but not really. As an actor, I don’t want to step on people’s toes but at the same time, I was really able to talk shop with a lot of the visual effects guys. When we’re on set and they say, “Hey, Masi, can you move over here?” I say, “Oh, okay!” and we talk and I can technically help those guys. Some actors don’t understand that by making one quick tweak, that’s going to save tens of thousands of dollars and tens of hours of manpower later on. So that was good and I really enjoyed working with them. Coming from both sides, I was able to talk shop and we have a lot of respect for each other.

Have you read the new tie in book to Heroes Reborn by David Bishop and what are you reading?

Oh! I have not but I’m reading a lot of scripts and manga. I don’t think I’ve picked up a big book in awhile. The last really good book that I read I think was Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.

Is there anything you’d like to say to the fans?

I just want to say thank you! This was an opportunity to pass the torch to the next generation of Heroes and we had an amazing run the first time so we wanted to pass the baton and lend a hand for the next Heroes. It was a great opportunity to say thanks to the fans, Tim, and NBC for letting us finish out the story.

Thank you so much, Masi!

Thank you!

Watch Heroes Reborn Thursdays at 8/7c on NBC.

Follow Masi Oka on Twitter.