Tohoru Masamune Explains His “Weird Alter-Ego” Matt Lin On Twitch’s Artificial

Tohoru Masamune Interview

The train reminds of The Good Place on NBC, and I realized that there’s been a lot of TV recently that’s dealt with similar themes as Artificial. What does it mean to be a person? What is the meaning of life? What does it mean to be a good person? Do you think that’s a reflection of today’s society, or do you think that’s coincidence?

Tohoru Masamune: I think that’s undeniable. That’s sort of the current zeitgeist, with Black Lives Matter and all. What are we? What are our ethics, morality; what makes us a good person? Absolutely, I think we’re sort of examining what that is. We’ve come this far, and what’s created that?

I don’t know if it’s part of an evolution of any person – survival is usually the initial stage, right? You try and survive, and at some point you find your footing and then you realize, “Is this right?” I think that’s what as a society we’re asking ourselves: what is right? And I think there’s no question that that’s something, as a society, we’re absolutely asking ourselves.

Quite frankly, it’s interesting. You watch that in every aspect of media, sports, whatever. “What is right?” is absolutely a question that is being asked, I’d say almost constantly. I think it’s a good thing; maybe we’re at that point in history where we have start asking that.

I think part of it, too, is that we’re starting to realize that we can really mess this thing up. I think that’s been brought to bear. We’re reaching a certain level of industrialization where we can stop fighting for survival. We’re not grabbing at scraps… and maybe we did have to do a lot of immoral things to get there. I don’t know.

But I think we’ve evolved past that, and so now we have to ask ourselves if it’s right, what we’re doing. And I think what always, I think, invokes that question is the old gun to the head saying, “Oh, you know what? We might end up destroying ourselves.” I kind of feel like our destruction – we see it now, in a very real way. And I think that’s also when we start asking ourselves. That’s when we – I hate to say it – as humans, we tend to get moral all of a sudden. Okay, we are mortal.

Maybe it’s just me, I like to focus on what I’m doing and sometimes I almost don’t want to have to be  – being annoyed sounds awful, but I sort of feel like, “Why do I always have to ask myself that question?” Of course, that’s the right question to ask. But I think the fact that I’m even noticing it suggests that that’s a question that’s constantly being asked now. Whether it’s making me optimistic or annoyed at that particular moment, I don’t know. But it’s clearly the question of the day, for sure.

I’m going to guess that this is the first show of this kind that you’ve done, where it’s a live show and a scripted show simultaneously

Tohoru Masamune: Yeah, I’m going to say it’s the first show that anybody has done. It’s pretty insane. Maybe last season, I was talking with Alexandra Chun, she played my wife and we’re pretty close anyway. There’s always these little sessions, the little discussions – and every actor does this right after a play or after a show or whatever. You’re kind of going back and forth about all these different things that we have to deal with.

And I remember looking at her and saying, “I don’t think there’s any other actors in town that are dealing with what we’re dealing with.” There’s some real specific issues to it that are very unique, and this season even more so because we’re doing it remotely. Now there’s this other aspect of our living rooms being our sets through November. I’m one of these actors who likes to just sit in my trailer and focus for an hour, and then have someone bring me on and just wait for the word action.

Now instead, I’m walking to my living room and thinking, “Maybe I should check my sound levels. And maybe I should swap these batteries out and make sure these cables are secure.” These things are happening minutes before we’re going to live in front of 17,000 people, so it’s a little crazy.


I’ve done a lot of improv, so I really love that. And I’ve done a lot of scripted, but it’s very weird to do both. Because all of a sudden, the writers are doing improv as well. There’s a lot of things that are going on, and yet you also have to stay faithful to the writers that are creating the content. I’ve never encountered that version.

Adding this remote thing that’s going on – because who knows what’s gonna happen in media – I do realize that there’s absolutely a learning curve to doing this thing. It’s tricky and it’s got its challenges. I don’t know if it’s ever going to become a thing or not, but there’s no question that it’s a whole new skill set. At the end of the day, what are you trying to do? You’re trying to create an illusion; a seamless illusion. However that’s done, whatever your medium is.

Back in the day, it was up on the Globe, performing Shakespeare or whatever. Now, it’s sitting in front of your Sony 6000 and trying to become this character and tell the story. It’s a whole skill set.

I mean, I love it, because all new. It’s almost hard to describe how different it really is for the actors. Even having that whole thing of like, “Okay, we’re going to go down this mode, and we’re going to either go down this path or this path.” This is not really, “Let’s shoot both scenes.” As an actor, this is the path you’re going to go down. To have to change on the fly, in the moment, is interesting because it just changes everything.

I love it. I’m a very follow the yellow brick road kind of guy. To me, the joy of acting is going for a ride, and it feels like that. It feels like a ride, or maybe like Game Day.

We’re all prepping right now, and I’m just saying, “Alright, Thursday. It’s on,” Sure enough, there’s the countdown. And once that starts, the train keeps going and it’s unstoppable. It’s a trip. It’s a little stressful, but it’s a unique experience. I’m still trying to figure it out after all the seasons, but it’s unique and very stressful while you’re doing it, but it’s very rewarding.

You really get back to what acting is supposed to be, and it really is that moment of: “You don’t know what’s ahead.” It feels very similar to what you should be doing; what your acting teachers yell at you about when you’re learning acting. Just stay in the moment, and you have no choice because you don’t even know what the next moment is gonna be. It’s kind of crazy.

How different and how similar are you and your character Matt?

Tohoru Masamune: That’s really interesting, because these days it’s pretty blurry. It’s a little strange, and it’s always been that way quite frankly since the beginning. Maybe this is just something when I look back. I do believe that roles find us.

We have to go after them, I suppose. But I realized at the end of the day, I look back at what I’ve done, and they’ve all found me. Sometimes in more ways than one. This one, I remember, I’d worked with Bernie before. But we weren’t buddy-buddy, so it’s not like, “Oh, I gotta help my buddy out,” you know?

It was a completely different character; it was a wacky politician that I played. I don’t know where he saw Matt Lin in there, but he said, “There’s a part you might be right for. Do you want to read for that?” I said, “Yeah, of course. I’ll always read for you.” So, I got the sides and whatnot. I worked with a friend, and we were going to do a self-tape. I remember the first thing my friend said to me, she looked at the script and goes, “Oh, did he write this for you?” And I said, “No, I don’t think he even knows me that well.”

It was really interesting. I can’t describe it other than it felt like, as I was speaking, this is the way I speak. This is the way I think and whatnot. The writing has always been so great on the show. I gotta say it’s really wonderful. There’s one point at the beginning of the scene, where I’m teaching Sophie, solving differential equations. Her line is, “I don’t see the point of this…”


And my line was, “Well, actually, differential calculus has a lot of applications in economics and physics.” And she interrupts me and goes. “No, no, no. What is the point of these conversations?” And I realize, that’s a completely different [thing]. You don’t understand why we’re even doing this. And it was sort of a father-daughter moment, and I have to switch gears. It’s a really great scene. I’m thinking, as an actor, we always want to go full steam in one direction. But what really makes it work is when you’re kind of forced to completely change direction, and I think that’s what really brings it out.

So I’m thinking, “What can I improv into this?” The way I improv was, “Let me really try to explain… I’m gonna really try and show you how to solve a second order differential equation. And you just interrupt me when you feel like it.”

I started giving [an explanation] in earnest, and she’s smart girl I was reading with. I believe everybody can ultimately understand the stuff, and then she interrupted me and we switched. And it was really great. It was so much fun to actually experience that; we went into the scene and it was fun seeing that was part of my audition tape. And then later I said, “Man, I may be one of the few actors that can riff on differential equations.”

In other words, from the get-go, there was some weird thing that was a unique fit. And and these days, it’s very strange. I gotta say, even emotionally, I look at what’s going on with COVID – I’m pretty positive guy, and I’m very resourceful. I’ve taken advantage of the stay at home orders and the isolation. I just always look on the bright side; people joke about how pathologically optimistic I am.

Matt, on the other hand… As Matt, I’ve lost far more, but I do know that a lot of people  haven’t handled the isolation so well. Yes, I’m optimistic; I’m positive, but I’m a human being. So, there is this very dark side that has been suppressed; that I’m having to do in order to take that higher road. I realized Matt is sort of this weird alter ego that hasn’t handled the isolation so well. It’s kind of interesting; it just feels like all these anxieties that I’m putting at bay, because I just don’t think it’s right for Tohoru, they just come out  with abandon [for Matt].

It’s interesting to have that. I can be that person that just hasn’t handled things well, and in this case, I have lost everything. Is it like my personality? No. But is it me? Absolutely. Maybe a part of me that that hasn’t been addressed. I don’t know where the hell Tohoru ends and Matt begins. I guess it’s healthy.

I just kind of stepped into them, and I always kind of enter every episode with something I need to say. The things I need to get off my chest, which just line up witrh the story. In a weird sort of way, it is one of those things. I guess, on some level, I am Matt in a very real way. Who knows? It’s crazy.

Artificial Tohoru Masamune

Artificial airs on Twitch with new episodes every Thursday at 5 PDT.



Josh Goldman

Josh Goldman

If you really want to know me, you should watch Ralph Bakshi's Wizards, Rankin-Bass's Flight of Dragons, Johnny Dangerously, and Spaceballs. Co-Founder of The Illuminerdi.