Heroes' Hayden Panettiere and Masi Oka Talk Fame

Hayden Panettiere, all of 17, has been in show business almost since conception. "Eight months old I started in this nuts business," she says, referring to her first screen appearance in a Playskool commercial. Fellow Heroes star Masi Oka, a comparatively grizzled 32, also knew the spotlight at an early age. As a 12-year-old, he appeared on a 1987 Time magazine cover titled "Those Asian-American Whiz Kids." Still, both were more anonymous than not until NBC's Heroes became a breakout hit this season. Panettiere's seemingly indestructible Claire Bennet ("Save the cheerleader, save the world") and Oka's time-shifting Hiro Nakamura since have catapulted both actors to full frontal fame. Oka already will be doing a sendup of his Heroes character on Monday's (Jan. 29) episode of NBC's Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. On the same night he'll be sharing scenes on a new Heroes episode with Star Trek's George Takei, who is playing Hiro's father. "I kind of wish it was gradual, so I had a chance to like acclimate myself," Oka says at a recent NBC party. "I've come from a zero to all of a sudden a hero in many ways."

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