I caught up with him for a few minutes before his appearance, and we chatted about his recent fame, Robin Williams, and his upcoming college reunion. Here's some of our conversation (edited for content):
Q: So you've got your 10-year college reunion coming up at Brown University. What will you say to people who come up to you and ask what you've been up to lately?
Masi Oka: Oh, I'll just tell them I've been living the life. Living my dream.
Q: You won't say something like, "Oh, I've been doing some acting" or "I'm on a TV show"?
MO: No, I'll just say I've been living my dream. If they don't know who I am at this point, then I haven't been doing my job.
Q: So how are your degrees in mathematics and computer science working out for you?
MO: Well they were great initially, because they got me my first job, working at Industrial Light and Magic. I was a programmer, programming effects and creating programs to create effects.
Q: So how did you make the transition from programming to acting?
MO: After my first big show, which was The Perfect Storm, I just decided I'd like to try something different. I had no family obligations at the time, so I just decided to give acting a try.
Q: What was your first acting job?
MO: It was for a show called "Straight White Male" on the FX channel. It was a pilot but it never made it to air.
Q: You've had a lot of recurring roles and guest appearances on some TV shows. What were your favorites to work on?
MO: I loved working on "Scrubs." I just love that show, and everyone was so great to work with. I also really liked working on "Reno 911!" It's a pure improv show, and it was really fun to do 30 minutes of improv -- though it ends up being more like 45 seconds of actual air time.
Q: Have you met anyone cool or had any noteworthy experiences since "Heroes" became such a hit?
MO: Everything's been so surreal. The Golden Globes were just amazing, seeing all these people that you idolize. At the People's Choice Awards, in front of me was Robin Williams. So he sees me and says, "Oh yeah, you're that guy from 'Heroes.' You're the math and computer science whiz kid from M.I.T." I kind of said, "Close, I went to Brown." Then I turned to my friends and said, "Oh my God, Robin Williams knows who I am." And my friends said to me, "He's still talking to you!" He told me he's a big fan of the show.
Right now, I'm getting to work with one of my idols, Steve Carell, on a movie [a remake of the 1960s TV show "Get Smart"].
It's also weird when people like Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg know who you are.