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Why Recorder Theel From Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 Looks So Familiar

Star-Lord and friends may all be teamed up against the High Evolutionary in "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3," but the mad scientist is far from alone on his side of the court. Throughout the movie, one Recorder Theel serves as the High Evolutionary's right-hand man. He's the perfect guy for the job, too, as he shares every bit of his master's nasty, emotionless qualities, along with a spirit of unflinching loyalty.

Once viewers can work through their disgust for Theel's amoral ways, they may be surprised to find that the character actually looks quite familiar to them. That's probably because he's played by none other than Nico Santos, an actor who rose to prominence throughout the 2010s, particularly through a major role on a beloved sitcom and an appearance in one of the biggest rom-com movies in recent memory. Here are the projects that viewers have most likely seen Santos before.

2 Broke Girls (2014)

One of Nico Santos' earliest roles was an appearance on Season 4, Episode 7 of the irreverent CBS sitcom "2 Broke Girls." In the episode, Kat Dennings' Max and Beth Behrs' Caroline take out a bank loan in the hopes of selling cupcake-themed T-shirts at high-end retailers. The pair venture to one such store and meet an employee named Barry (Santos). Barry is a recovering drug addict — an altogether irrelevant fact that he nonetheless makes reference to several times. At first, he's not amused with Max and Beth's sales pitch, but a bit of customer feedback changes his mind and he contracts the pair.

Santos has mixed feelings about this role in retrospect. In an interview with The Chicago Tribune, the actor noted that he felt the role reinforced negative stereotypes about gay men. Barry originally had a line about "loving underage boys," which Santos took issue with. When he expressed his frustration to a friend at the network, the line ended up getting slightly altered to "teenage boys." Still, Santos implied that he regrets the part. "In the position that I'm in now, if something like that comes across my desk and I see that on the page, I would be like, 'Absolutely not. I won't do anything like that,'" he explained. "But because I was starting out and trying to get my foot in the door and I knew it could lead to better things, it was kind of a calculated business decision for my career."

Superstore (2015)

Roughly one year after his guest appearance on "2 Broke Girls" (and a pit-stop cameo as a hotel receptionist in the critically-panned "Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2"), Nico Santos landed what has arguably been his biggest role to date. Since its very inception, the actor has starred on the NBC sitcom "Superstore" as Mateo, a particularly hard-edged employee working at Cloud 9. Throughout the show's six seasons, Santos' Mateo served as a major facet of both the show's emotional and comedic cores.

In an interview with Vulture, Santos voiced his appreciation for how the show wasn't afraid to expand and deepen Mateo's character by delving into his life as a gay man, his cultural background, and his status as an undocumented immigrant. "They really added so many more layers," the actor said. "It is to me such a great way of representing him because I feel like what really drives Mateo more than anything is he really wants to succeed. Like every American in this country, they are just yearning for a better life, and he really is the epitome of pursuing the American Dream."

With "Superstore" closing its doors in 2021, Santos has moved on from his role as Mateo. Nonetheless, the actor has been vocal about missing the series. "Being on 'Superstore' was such a gift," he said in an interview with Awards Daily. "I didn't think I would be able to portray a character so close to my own experience so early on in my career."

Crazy Rich Asians (2018)

Even before "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3," Nico Santos' rising star power catapulted him onto the silver screen for a popular rom-com flick. Indeed, the actor was part of the cast for Jon M. Chu's 2018 film "Crazy Rich Asians," which chronicles the hilarious love story between Constance Wu's Rachel and Henry Golding's Nick. In the movie, Santos portrays Nick's gay second cousin Oliver. He gets a standout moment partway through the movie, in which he helps give Rachel a gorgeous makeover just in time for her friend's wedding.

According to Rappler, Santos actually read Kevin Kawn's original "Crazy Rich Asians" book before auditioning. When he encountered Oliver, he identified with the character so strongly that he requested to specifically audition for the role, and he ended up winning out. "The fact that I get to play a queer Filipino on television and another queer character in 'Crazy Rich Asians' is huge," the actor told HuffPost. "I never thought I'd have a career being myself."

Santos also felt like "Crazy Rich Asians" was a crucial moment in bringing a very specific cultural experience to the forefront of public attention. ""This movie is very specific to the Singapore experience and I hope that with this movie it just opens doors for us to tell other Asian stories, like the Filipino story, the Indonesian story, the Malaysian story, Japanese, Korean...to show everybody in the world the broad spectrum of Asian culture," he told Rappler.