West Coast wunderkind makes his mark

This story appears in V139, the Supermodel, Superhero issue: now available for purchase!

Nico Hiraga arrives on set, grinning from ear to ear. He’s got a JBL speaker tucked under his arm blasting Biggie’s “Gimme the Loot” to an excited, but understandably, groggy cast and crew. It’s 5 am in Jersey City, and the team is getting ready to film Sweethearts, or what Hiraga likes to refer to as “one of the best projects he’s ever worked on.” In the upcoming film, the 24-year-old plays Ben, the “caring sweetheart who puts his friends’ feelings before his.” And as Hiraga assumes his first lead role, he takes it all in stride, imbuing a sensitive, thoughtful, albeit goofy nature into the character. Part coming-of-age film, part love in the modern age allegory, he plays opposite Kiernan Shipka in a chaotic, yet humorous carnage through Thanksgiving. “It’s not like a cheesy rom-com or anything I’ve done in the past. It’s a straight raunchy comedy that’s not really romantic,” laughs Hiraga, who just returned from filming. He chats with us from his home in San Francisco, wearing a string of pearl necklaces–and in true Hiraga form, sans shirt.

All Clothing AMIRI / Earrings ALEXIS BITTAR / Bracelet SOPHIE BUHAI / Rings RAT BETTY / Necklace PYRRHA

These days, there is scarcely a teen flick in which Hiraga does not have a charismatic cameo in. In a swift half-decade, the San Francisco skater has become both a box-office favorite (Booksmart) and a Netflix maven (Moxie, Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between, and Rosaline). The latter is a prequel to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, told through the perspective of Romeo’s ex-girlfriend, Rosaline, and also happens to star Hiraga’s Booksmart colleague, Kaitlyn Dever. And yet, despite his blockbuster year ahead, the native Californian remains largely untickled by fame, sharing that after the call, he might go to a beer garden with a friend or try some new tricks at the skatepark, which gets at his, arguably, larger passion in life–skateboarding.

All clothing ETRO / Necklace GUCCI / Earring HIROTAKA

“I fell in love with the rush,” he shares. “There’s such adrenaline bombing down those San Francisco hills.” Hiraga started skateboarding when he was 11, at the encouragement of his cousins, and since then, hasn’t stopped. And as is true with acting, in skateboarding, he’s always trying to improve his craft. In the intervening few weeks, he’ll work on nailing the Swiss Flip from board to rails, then onto press for Rosaline, and then ever onwards, up and up and up–switching off between his two passions for the rest of his life. “I just want to be remembered as a dude from SF that showed you can have fun doing your craft,” he shares. “I want to go out with a smile and know that I made the Hiraga name proud.”

All clothing DIOR / Pearl earring HIROTAKA / Additional jewelry talent’s own

Rosaline is now available to stream via Hulu.

This story appears in V139, the Supermodel, Superhero issue: now available for purchase!

Discover More