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The 'O' stands for Oka

by jmaloni

'Heroes' star Masi Oka joins 'Hawaii Five-0' cast

Mon, Oct 18th 2010 05:15 pm

Behind the Screens with Joshua Maloni

If anyone deserves a vacation to Hawaii, it's Masi Oka.

The "Heroes" star was often thrown to the wolves (i.e. television critics) when his former NBC show was lackluster (so, often), and someone from the set had to offer a reason why. Of course, as an actor, he also had to work with material that was far too regularly sub par. "Heroes" showrunner Tim Kring even said as much of the show's penultimate season.

But now Oka has the opportunity to kick back, pull up a pina colada, and act in an environment much more conducive to career and mental health. The former Hiro Nakamura begins a recurring role tonight on "Hawaii Five-0," the new season's top newcomer. Oka plays medical examiner Max Bergman, a character CBS describes as "a childhood piano prodigy and long-standing MENSA member." Max, The Eye continues, "received his doctor's license before he was old enough to drive -- but they don't teach social skills at medical school. For all his intellectual gifts, Max is inept when it comes to human interaction, which is why he chose to work with dead bodies. Still, Max has an oddball sense of humor, making him a character who lightens the mood when tensions run high."

Oka calls his character a "mad scientist." In that regard, he's not too far removed from his "Heroes" role, that of a comic book-loving, wisecracking time-traveler.

"There's always going to be a part of me in every role," Oka says. Max, however, "is played in a very different way."

For instance, the character, off in his own world, doesn't always realize when the "Five-0" team is speaking with him. Moreover, he likes to break out piano concertos in between breaking down dead bodies.

On a cop show Oka calls "pretty violent, but ... really sexy," and filled with "so many amazing action sequences," his character provides a little levity.

"I do enjoy trying to make people laugh." Oka concedes.

He's also rather fond of working on a show that, thanks to the superlative chemistry of stars Alex O'Loughlin, Scott Caan, Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park, and the sheer genius of producers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, is a bonafide success.

"It's always a relief to be on a great show that everyone likes," Oka says.

"Hawaii Five-0" airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on CBS.

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