The recent Golden Globe nominated actor talks about possible show twists, love interests, and the power of the sword he is after.
Heroes is proving to be a force of nature. Week after week viewers tune in to see what will happen next on this show which looks at the lives of ordinary people suddenly bestowed with amazing abilities. One of the breakout stars however is obviously the character of Hiro Nakamura played by Masi Oka. Recently nominated (along with Heroes itself) for a Golden Globe, we had a chance to sit in on a conference call with the in demand actor/ILM Special Effects guru.
What would you say is the theme of the second half of the Heroes season vs. the first?
Masi Oka: The first half was definitely about the discovery and now the second half is more about the realization of it. Then the growth with those powers.
Based on what you've seen and we haven't, do you sense any shift on the characters?
Masi Oka: I think it's gonna be the same in terms of distribution. The writers have always taken care of each character and tried to give everyone's storyline a focus. You're starting to see a lot of the crossover, and the paths of the character's intertwining, because of that a lot of the stories start to get combined here and there. There's some wonderful, wonderful twists coming up.
Do you see any more love interests in Hiro's future?
Masi Oka: Yes, lets put it this way, I heard from Tim somewhere down the line, I'm not gonna say when, somewhere down the line there will be another love interest with Hiro.
Is it somebody we already know or a new character?
Masi Oka: From what I understand it's gonna be a new character. Who knows? You never know what's gonna happen in the minds of the writers.
Could you describe your characters relationship with his father who we're going to meet soon?
Masi Oka: Yes, he's being played by George Takei and we will see him, I believe, in episode 14 and 15, I think. The relationship is kind of complex but simple. Without trying to reveal too much, I don't want to spoil it. Pretty much you'll find that the father... he has a lot of expectations of his son. Hiro is his only male son and it's who he expected would be his heir to his company. He views Hiro's journey to be a very childish and foolish one. He wants him to grow up. Hiro has always seen his father as an intimidating figure and someone he's always had to live up to. Sometimes that limits who Hiro is as a person. You'll see a little bit of that conflict and why his Dad came to find Hiro in America.
What's the biggest challenge of playing a character like Hiro, because your performance has to be open ended for whatever the writers throw at you?
Masi Oka: One of my main challenges... one is technical in regards to accent reduction because he has spent some time with Charlie for an undisclosed amount of time. I have to maintain a level of accent that's still... a Japanese accent in English and I've got to scale down the level a little bit, because Hiro has learned English. The second thing is to not lose the essence of who Hiro is in terms of his innocence and purity. When you start to bring in that realistic, dark cloud, Charlie has effected him so he can't be all goofy all the time anymore. That's the hardest thing to maintain.
Do you consult with the writers and producers and give your input about the Hiro character?
Masi Oka: Yes, I do do that. I believe all of our series regulars do that as well. The writers actually told us from the get go, "In the first five minutes you play the character, you're gonna know a lot more about the character than we know about writing it." We've gotten to a point, especially when we have guest directors, they don't know our characters as well as the actors do. Many times, because the writers have so many things on their mind, they have a bigger picture... there's some small things that we love to collaborate on. Especially with all the actors feeling like their growing with the characters sometimes we'll say, "Hey, I think it might be a little harsh to do this." Or, "I don't think this is HRG enough!"
Is there any one aspect about your character that you would like to see grow or change?
Masi Oka: Another love interest is always great because I had so much fun playing that role. I had so much fun playing that with Charlie. There is something about not seeing so many love stories with Asian American's on screen. To be able to help that and make that a realization, I think would be a lot of fun. I also would like to see it involve a lot more of the sword fighting thing. As I talk more about the quest for the sword... I think they're going to utilize that a little bit more. I'm hoping all be able to use some of my skills. Or, retrain a lot of my skills and use that on the show.
Will Hiro ever find out where his powers come from?
Masi Oka: I believe that will be the case. Tim Kring talked about more of an origins episode. At the current time I think we're just asking everyone to take a leap of faith, and not really question where they come from. They will be answered sometime in the future. That's not what the show is about right now, in terms of where these things came from, but rather what they're gonna do with their powers, and the journey that they're taking to save the world. As you know the show has been very good about answering questions. Sometimes the writers had to be held back in terms of answering a lot of questions, because it went a lot faster than they wanted. They're itching to get these answers out so they'll definitely be answered.
Does the sword that Hiro is on a quest to find possess powers that will help him, or is it just a sword? Does it deal with his time traveling?
Masi Oka: Interesting, there is an answer for that and that's part of the plotline that unfortunately I can't talk about. It will be answered.
It does possess some type of power?
Masi Oka: I would say the answer will be found somewhere between episodes 12 and 18.
You mentioned that Hiro was his father's only son, does that mean we'll be seeing any of his sisters?
Masi Oka: We might see other family members.
Do the writers on this show let you see the whole story?
Masi Oka: Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. In their minds they definitely have everything planned out. I usually don't like to find out things too much ahead of time, because I love discovering things and taking the journey with Hiro. Sometimes the writers, out of pure excitement, they'll tell me what's gonna happen and they'll get excited. They'll come up and say, "Oh my God, we've got this great thing for you." Then they'll usually just walk away. I only find out things that I need to know so it plays truthfully. For instance, for future Hiro scenes, I needed to know what happens and where he came from so I know what emotional and physical state I was supposed to be in.
Did you take the role because it sort of pays an homage to where you came from?
Masi Oka: I think so. I took the role because it's such a great role it's written with such refinement and such depth. I knew I could play it many different ways. It was such a great character. I was enthusiastic... I wanted to make sure, I do take pride in the fact that I am Japanese. I wanted to make sure it was portrayed correctly as a Japanese person should. I do a lot of research on my own, in terms of translating my own scripts, making sure I use the correct colloquial's, whatevers appropriate for the time. I study the Japanese media and use a language that would be correct for Hiro.
Heroes airs Monday Nights at 9/8c on NBC.