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Chicago Med's Ato Essandoh Was Attracted To Dr. Latham's Uniqueness

Actor Ato Essandoh, who also portrays former Marine Vernon Elliot in "Altered Carbon," is a mainstay of NBC's "Chicago Med" as surgeon Dr. Isidore Latham. Among viewers, Dr. Latham is a popular character, to the extent that a certain contingent of the "Chicago Med" fanbase that appreciates his high degree of professionalism thinks he should be rewarded with an expanded role on the show.

Shortly after debuting as Dr. Latham, TV blog CarterMatt interviewed Essandoh about his "Chicago Med" character, at one point describing Dr. Latham as an altogether unique personality before asking how the series' producers first characterized the role. "When I got the offer and my agent said he was a Black Jewish doctor with Asperger's, I was like 'that's awesome. I don't know if I can even pull that off, I don't know what that means.' But 'Chicago Med' was really helpful, especially Michael Waxman, one of the executive producers," Essandoh said.

In order to prepare for the role, Essandoh met with a Black rabbi in Chicago named Capers C. Funnye. "I don't know many Black Jewish people, especially Orthodox," Essandoh continued. "He made it really clear that this does exist, and that was really important for me when playing the character." Waxman likewise introduced Essandoh to multiple people diagnosed with Asperger's in order for him to better understand that aspect of his character as well before officially taking on the role of Dr. Latham.

Ato Essandoh has an affinity for unique roles

Earlier on in his interview with CarterMatt, Ato Essandoh described himself as someone oftentimes hired to play unique characters, to the point that he's developed a reputation as an actor with considerable range. "I've gotten into people's heads that I can do a lot of different things," he revealed. "'Chicago Med' was an offer, sight unseen, but I think they'd seen me enough in other things to know that I could pull off a Black, Jewish, Orthodox guy with Asperger's. Let's see."

Then, later on in this same conversation, Essandoh discussed how he was around a Jewish community growing up in Scarsdale, New York, which was an experience that provided him some valuable insight into his "Chicago Med" character. However, he was largely unfamiliar with Orthodox customs, and had plenty to learn on that subject prior to starting work on "Chicago Med."

"The greatest thing about being an actor in my estimation is to be able to live in other people's shoes and see other realities that exist that you had no insight to. Jewish orthodoxy is quite elaborate and quite involved. What they have to do is fascinating, and having a little taste of it — that was interesting to me," Essandoh continued, characterizing the experience of studying for the unique role of Dr. Latham as an altogether enlightening experience.