I am told that each actor who was cast added a special something to the characters they will be playing. What do you feel you have added to Hiro?
I don't know. Hopefully my face, my charm, and my ripped body. I feel I gave it more of a naivete, an excitement and energy.
Also, being a Japanese native and having grown up with Japanese media, I can give it some authenticity. I think my comedic and improv experience helped. I don't know. All of the characters are written really well, so I feel I'm just there to try to make it alive, in terms of how I envisioned it, and if I've added something extra that was mine, that's great from an actor's perspective.
Hiro seems to be a big science fiction fan. Are you a science fiction fan as well?
Yeah, definitely. I definitely love science fiction. It's a great genre. I'd never consider myself as a Trekkie, or go on the convention circuit, but I grew up on Japanese comic books, and the manga, and I love the old school stuff, from the Orange Road to modern thrillers like the Monster and Death Note. So, I think sci-fi makes your brain turn and think, and I love the kind of sci-fi that has a message as well, which Heroes does. So I think, yeah, I definitely love science fiction.
Is there a lesson to be learned from Hiro as far as believing in one's self?
Of course. Everything begins with believing. It's like that song from Prince of Egypt, "There can be miracles when you believe" [sings]. If you don't believe, nothing will happen. If you don't believe in something, you'll never take action. Whether if it's in yourself or a higher entity, it's that belief that propels us to move forward and live our lives. There's so much negativity in our world, and nay-sayers, that I just think it's really important to believe. It takes so much courage to say yes, so I think that's hopefully a lesson that everyone will take with them.
What was your reaction when you learned that Heroes was going to be picked up as a series?
I was absolutely elated. It's just a phenomenal script, phenomenal characters. Our biggest thing was, I wanted to know what was coming next! I just wanted to follow the script! I was like, "I want to read Episode 2, Episode 3. What's going to happen to these characters?" That was more my thing. It was like "Yes! I get to see where these characters are gonna go."So that was the biggest thing for me. And also, for me, doing the pilot, I didn't get a chance to work with such a brilliant cast, because most of our storylines are so separate, and I just wanted to have the opportunity to work with my co-workers.
Was there anyone in the cast that you were a big fan of before signing on to the show?
No one in particular; I just think they're all great actors. And I want to be selfish, and I want to work with all of them, to be honest with you.
Will the Japanese/subtitle thing continue into the series or will Hiro somehow gain the secondary power of instant translation?
Oh, well I'm gonna quote Mr. Tim Kring on this one. "Hiro speaks limited English, that seems to get better and better as we go along. He can get by with his limited vocabulary, but also with the sheer force of his charm and personality. The audience will have fun watching him get more and more comfortable with it." So, it looks like Hiro will definitely slowly learn at whatever pace he picks up English. I personally think that, because he reads a lot of American comics, I'd love for him to speak English, but only in comic book phrases. That would be a funny thing to do.
At one point of the pilot, Hiro manages to transport himself clear across the world. How does he know where he can safely land?
When Hiro concentrates, I believe he sees his destination place, when he's bending time and space. He visualizes, and sees that open area. He's able to control when he's going to occupy that space. Of course there will be other atoms there, no matter what, but he finds a way to find out when the coast is clear, and transport himself at that precise moment.
If you could have any super power yourself, what would you want it to be and why?
I would love to choose Hiro's powers, but I think time travel and teleportation are two separate things, so out of those two, I would probably pick time travel, because I would love to go back to the defining point of my adolescence in my sophomore year. Go to that cafeteria, and tell myself "DO NOT ASK HER OUT. Do not ask her out. She is gonna cause you 10 years of therapy! Do not ask her out!" And I think I would have been a much happier person after that moment. So, that would be the one thing I would love to do. Give advice to my own self.
What appeals to you about the Hiro character?
His energy, his charisma... the fact that he has a child's eye. He's very pure. He's just a big kid at heart who is given this amazing opportunity to change the world. Rarely do you see that kind of character on TV, that's just so pure and just so fun and adventurous. And the fact that he's vindicated from the beginning. That's very refreshing. Especially in this very dark, realistic show, I get to play the levity, and bring the laughs and bring the smiles to the audience, which is what I love about Hiro.
What would you like to see happening with your character as the series progresses?
As I said before, I would definitely love to see Hiro join forces with other characters. I'd love to see him take many adventures. With his powers, he can travel anywhere and anytime in the world. We could find out so much about the history, a lot of the What Ifs. I think that the adventure aspect is so cool, that I'd love to see him do that. And of course, a love interest would always be great. I'd love for Hiro to meet someone, for instance, at a Comic-Con type convention. Maybe they were, like, IM buddies, you know, discuss Star Trek over IM, but they bump into each other at a Comic-Con. Kind of like a You've Got Mail kind of thing, in a geeky world.
Do you have any theories about where Hiro's power comes from?
That's a really tough question. Currently, Hiro's power comes from the brilliant genius mind of Tim Kring. I think that's what we're going to find out. I don't want to theorize too much, because I'm just excited to see how all this unravels. It could be a mutation thing, it could be stuff from outer space. It could be very high concept like a higher entity deciding to put some sort of change. And maybe someone from the future is coming back, and decided to plant seeds of these abilities. I don't have any specific theories yet, but as more clues get revealed, maybe I'll develop more.
What was the experience like in filming the Heroes pilot?
It was amazing. The crew, the writers, the cast "it was all phenomenal. It was like a family, and we all knew that we were creating something special, so there was this great energy, and it was just an amazing experience.
Do you find it humorous that you play a character named Hiro on a show titled Heroes?
Oh, absolutely. We were joking around that the show Heroes is actually about Hiro. Multiple Hiro-type heroes, and stuff. It's a great play on words, and it is funny. Hiro is probably more of the more comedic and cartoonish character out of all the characters that are in the scripts.
Prior to acting, you worked in special effects. Can you tell me anything about that?
I worked for a company called Industrial Light & Magic, George Lucas's special effects company. It was wonderful. You use a very different side of the brain, and it just kind of goes through my whole theory of life. The human being has two sides of the brain, the left side and the right side, and I think society tends to force that, to force us or bottle us, label us to use only one side most of the time. And to do special effects was a great exercise of both sides of the brain. Along with acting. I think it's important for anyone who is involved in the industry to understand both sides, of all the aspects of TV making and film-making content creation, because I think it just rounds you out as an individual, to have more appreciation for what the crew does and what the crew does.
It allows you to think outside the box. So I'm very grateful for the dedication and opportunities I got doing special effects, and ironically, I kind of get to use it in this show that has a lot of the effects built in.
Is it more difficult to do a dramatic role than to appear in a comedy series?
Hiro is kind of the comic relief for this show, so I feel like I'm still doing kind of a realistic comedy. Comedy tends to be a little bit harder, in my mind, because comedy's very subjective. Funny to you, could be not funny to someone else. Funny means different things to different people. I'm actually looking forward to playing more of a dramatic role because I'm always used to playing comedy, and it feels like a different acting muscle, but comedy's based on truth, as well, so I think you do need to be a good actor, and even moreso, to play comedy real. And hopefully my experiences on Scrubs and doing a lot of single camera comedy will be parlayed into the dramatic role in Heroes.