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Feature: Heroes

Hiro of the Day

Masi Oka as Hiro Ya-taa! Star Masi Oka introduces us to Hiro, an office worker who dreams of being greater – and is!

On Heroes, shy office worker Hiro Nakamura can somehow bend Space and Time and, while he seems destined to help save the world, it is actor Masi Oka who may hold the true power. Not only has his underdog character emerged as a fan favourite, the Japan native already received Emmy attention last week. “I was asleep until 7:30am,” recalls Oka. “I figured if some great news was going to come in for the show I’d be woken up by it, but I guess I had the phone on low volume. I had a sound sleep and woke up to 82 phone and text messages. I figured this was pretty good news and heard the first message that the show had gotten nominated and that I got a personal nom. My initial reaction was tears of joy. It was such a surprise and I was so emotionally overwhelmed. Then I called my mom.”

Ever since ordinary people around the world began discovering they had strange abilities, Heroes quickly established itself as one of television’s break-out phenomena, something Oka would never have predicted. “No, I didn’t,” he confirms. “I knew we had an amazing script when we were making the pilot. We knew we were making something special. Tim Kring created an amazing world with characters that had depth. We didn’t know if it would be a hit with the mainstream audience though. Everything is a hit or miss. All last year’s genre stuff didn’t hit and we weren’t really the frontrunners for NBC. They were very supportive of our show, but Studio 60 was their golden child. We knew we hit the genre nail on the head because, when we went to Comic Con, we got that response and we knew we serviced that community well. The mainstream was always up in the air and we’re just fortunate to have the audience react the way they have.”

Right from the moment he received the script, Oka was intrigued by the Heroes concept and Hiro’s evolution. “Even though it is genre, at the core is an ensemble character drama and Hiro is such a great character, full of optimism, passion and exuberance,” says Oka. “Rarely do you see a character vindicated in the first episode and who has their dreams come true, which sets him up for a fall. We know where he goes with ‘future Hiro’ so he will be tested and he’s going to harden up a bit. Rarely do you see a character on TV with such hope and joy. It was so refreshing and cool to see that, so I wanted to play him.”

Initial discussions about Hiro and where he was heading were kept minimal since the creative team hadn’t even mapped everything out yet. “Hiro was originally an afterthought,” reveals Oka. “Tim’s first draft was very dark. His wife, Lisa, mentioned, ‘Why not have a character who enjoys having their powers?’ Originally, Hiro was going to be a side character, but fortunately the audience responded to him so they made him into a bigger essence of the story. He’s naïve, which is also scary. We know where he ends up, so he can’t stay that way for five seasons.”

by Bryan Cairns

Read the full interview in
Cult Times #137

Photo © NBC
Feature © Visual Imagination 2007. Not for reproduction

Taken from
Cult Times #137, see below for ordering options
Cult Times #137
February 2007
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