The characters on NBC's Heroes will leap forward four months when the show returns Sept. 24 — everyone, that is, except Hiro. The time-tripping fanboy, played by Masi Oka, was suddenly teleported to 1671 Japan in the cliff-hanger of last May's finale. The Season 2 premiere will find him right where we left him, stuck in the middle of a nation of samurai who are about to wage war. TV Guide spoke with the Emmy nominee about tripping time, wooing the Japanese Kelly Clarkson and getting Smart.
TV Guide: Immediate danger aside, isn't this Hiro's dream come true?
Masi Oka: Mine, too. It's the dream of many Japanese boys. We grow up playing samurai like kids in the U.S. play cowboys. Even the crime procedurals on Japanese TV are set in feudal Japan.
TV Guide: Will you spill some exclusive scoop?
Oka: Next season, Hiro meets the legendary warrior Kensei, his hero from childhood, but it turns out the storybooks are exaggerated. Kensei isn't the kind of man Hiro idolized. This will put Japan's future at stake, so Hiro has to make this Kensei into the one of legend.
TV Guide: Alias regular David Anders has been cast as Kensei, but he isn't Japanese. What's up with that?
Oka: If you remember, Kensei didn't look Japanese in the ancient tapestry [seen in Season 1]. But I have no idea where the writers are going with this. Here's another mystery: They told me something terrible will be happening in the present, maybe because Hiro isn't there. When he returns to modern day, he's in for the shock of his life.
TV Guide: Heroes has also hired Japanese pop star Eriko Tamura to play a feudal princess. Do we detect a hint of romance in the air?
Oka: She'll fall in love with Hiro, but this will be a disaster because she's supposed to fall in love with Kensei. Eriko is very famous in Japan — not quite a Britney Spears, more like a Kelly Clarkson.
TV Guide: First Charlie from the diner, now this. Is Hiro doomed to fall in love with the right chicks at the wrong time?
Oka: I think that's going to be the nature of every romantic story for Hiro. When the writers decide they're done with me, I hope they send Hiro back in time where he can live forever in an indefinite time loop with one of his women. Or maybe with all of them! It can be like Big Love. "I'll be right back, Charlie. I'm going to run next door and see the princess!"
TV Guide: In August the Heroes cast goes on a world tour to hype the show. How will it feel to return to Japan as a big star?
Oka: More eventful than the last time I went! I fled there for New Year's Eve, 1999, because of the Y2K bug, thinking that if there was an apocalyptic event, I'd rather die in my homeland. But nothing happened, except three naked guys stood on top of a bus and threw beer bottles.
TV Guide: You play a spy-tech nerd in the upcoming Get Smart movie. What's it like going toe-to-toe with crazy Steve Carell?
Oka: My big triumph was making him crack up during his close-ups. I figure if I can make Carell laugh with my improvs, I've made it! I'm a big geek for The Office. I also work with Jenna Fischer in another new movie, Quebec. I play a real-estate agent and I get to cuss, which I can't do on Heroes. When Hiro stabbed Sylar in the season finale he said, "Yatta!" but my secret subtext was, "Yatta, you motherf--ker!" I couldn't say it, but I played it!
Fans of such fare as Heroes, Smallville, Kyle XY and more can find super scoops in the Sci-Fi Preview double-issue of TV Guide. Try four risk-free issues now!
Send your comments on this Q&A to email@example.com.