Nico Hiraga basks against black velvet curtains, surrounded by streamers and balloons. Playing with a noisemaker, he makes jokes and opens a bottle of champagne while the camera flashes, golden confetti is raining down.
The fun may be staged for the photoshoot, but Hiraga looks as comfortable here as he would be at any real house party, a fact that has as much to do with it. the fact that he’s a 23-year-old regular man that he’s one of Hollywood’s fastest rising stars. Despite his burgeoning reputation as an on-screen idol (a term Hiraga admits he’s still uncomfortable with), he’s down to earth, the kind of guy who shuns his own hotel connections. in favor of crashing into friends’ couches wherever he goes. He brings a natural charisma and charm to his roles, notably as Tanner in “Booksmart“And Seth in” Amy Poehler “Moxie. “And even sharing the screen with stars like Olivia Rodrigo, Hiraga stays true to her laid back personality.
Slumped in a chair, champagne flute in hand, he tells the unusual tale of how he became one of show biz’s most beloved stage thieves. At 19, Hiraga had made a name for himself in another competitive arena: skateboarding. But as he started to gain momentum with sponsors, Hiraga’s hopes of turning pro were derailed with a serious ankle injury. “I had been skating since I was 10 or 11 years old. That’s all I knew, ”he says. “I was like, ‘What should I do if I can’t skate? “”
He recalled that family members encouraged him to act as a child, so he reached out to an informed relative and quickly landed a principal. With some modeling experience on her resume, it didn’t take long for Hiraga to find some ground. “[My ankle] started to rehabilitate, ”he continues. “But at that time I booked ‘Booksmart’ and [the 2018 indie feature] ‘Skateboard Kitchen‘and I did a few short films at the same time, and I started to get a little idea. And I liked where it was going.
That doesn’t mean he said goodbye to skating, though. Hiraga’s many unidentified bumps and bruises (“I don’t even remember how I got that one,” he laughs, pointing to a scratch on his elbow) attest to his continued love for the sport. He still rips whenever he can, although his acting career has made it a bit difficult. “You can’t hurt yourself before you go to film, otherwise you screw up the production,” he says. “It means I can’t skate and throw my carcass on the ground. I would like to become a pro; however long it takes, that’s okay.
In the meantime, his talents on the board lend themselves to many of his acting roles. Hiraga often portrays characters who feel like different variations of the actor himself, although he is quick to point out that he would never be as clicked as Tanner from “Booksmart”. “But the fact that Tanner was a wild card, walking down the hall with a fire extinguisher?” That’s what I did, without the fire extinguisher, ”says Hiraga. He explains that he’s drawn to the young adult genre because he sees himself a lot in these characters. “It seemed like the most relevant role for me, a mischievous kid or a goofy best friend. And the first to start were skateboarders, so I walked out of the stadium. As I started to play more and more, I developed a strong love for it.
Although he is grateful for the opportunities he has been given, Hiraga is eager to prove that he can be much more than a ruthless teenager. For her next photo appearance with Jordan Fisher “Hello, goodbye and all the resthe even voted to reject the skateboard his character was supposed to wear. “I want to go more into serious roles, or not necessarily serious, but not high school, funny roles,” he said. had ‘Booksmart;’ it was gorgeous and i’m so happy, but we’ve already knocked it out. i’m happy to keep [my career] go forward.
Bordering on Hollywood stardom, Hiraga doesn’t rule out his future, not even undressing, he jokes. But one thing is certain: between upcoming projects like “Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between” and the Amazon Prime Video series “The powerHiraga fans have something to look forward to. “A lot of the public thinks they already know who Nico Hiraga is,” he said. [I’m] a stoner skateboarder. Some people think I’m a random Japanese guy from the bay, which I totally am, but I also have other things that I do. I am delighted to be able to continue my career in a way where I can show myself in my own way. So, yes, there is a lot more.
This article appeared in the 2021 annual issue of Character Media. Read our full e-magazine here.