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Why Vernon Elliot From Altered Carbon Looks So Familiar

Most characters in the cyber-punk inspired Netflix original Altered Carbon are complex and morally ambiguous. However, for former marine Vernon Elliot, things are a little more cut and dried. His goal is to protect his family, and he is loyal to those who are good to him, a rare quality on the rough streets of Bay City. American actor Ato Essandoh brings Elliot alive with all the compassion and grit required to keep viewers rooting for the character as he navigates the insidious world of Altered Carbon.

There's a chance you might be shocked to hear that Essandoh is still alive and acting. In 2012, he was the subject of one of the strangest internet urban legends of all time, which claimed that the actor was killed during the filming of Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained. In the film, Essandoh plays an enslaved man attempting self-emancipation who is eventually tracked down and mauled to death by dogs. When the film premiered, a rumor somehow spread that in order to authentically portray the brutal death, Tarantino had Essandoh actually killed by dogs, going so far as to claim that his co-star Leonardo DiCaprio pronounced him dead at the scene. (Sounds legit.)

Those rumors were, of course, completely fabricated. Essandoh has had a robust career in film and TV since his role in Django Unchained. If you've been watching Altered Carbon and wondering where else you've seen the dynamic actor, here's a few roles that are likely to jog your memory.

Ato Essandoh tangled with Jason Bourne

In 2016, Essandoh appeared in the fifth Jason Bourne film, simply titled Jason Bourne, as CIA Agent Craig Jeffers. The film was the first Bourne movie to star Matt Damon since 2007's The Bourne Ultimatum, and Essandoh said in an interview with FilmIsNow, "They said 'Jason Bourne' and 'Matt Damon's back in it,' so that's all they needed to tell me."

Essandoh has a vital supporting role in the movie. As the right-hand-man to the film's main villain, CIA Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones), Jeffers is often orchestrating his boss' plans to eliminate Bourne after he comes out of hiding and threatens to expose the CIA's nefarious mind control operations. Jeffers even gets a chance to tangle with the legendary operative and has one of the most iconic lines in the entire franchise.

Even if you've never seen this particular Bourne installment, there's a good chance that you've seen a short clip of Essandoh as Jeffers looking into a large TV monitor and uttering an exclamation of surprise to see Bourne back in action. The clip was featured in a Super Bowl ad for the film, and has since been re-purposed in a variety of popular memes, giving it a life of its own.

Ato Essandoh reined in Sherlock on Elementary

One of Essandoh's best-known roles is as Alfredo Llamosa on the modern day Sherlock Holmes re-imagining Elementary. Llamosa plays a drug addict in recovery who serves as Holmes' sponsor in Alcoholics Anonymous. He's also a reformed car thief who now uses his deep knowledge of car security systems to improve them, rather than finding ways to get around them. His illicit knowledge has made him crucial to solving several of Sherlock's cases over the years.

Even though he's a recurring character and not a lead, Llamosa has an integral role in the push and pull of keeping Holmes on the straight and narrow. Unlike other characters, who are often intimidated by Holmes' intelligence and bullied by his brusque personality, Llamosa isn't afraid to take him to task — and Essandoh's rock steady performance is integral to the development of this dynamic. Considering how consistently the character appeared throughout the show's seven seasons, it's clear that the writers of Elementary knew they'd found the balance they were looking for when they cast Essandoh in the role.

Ato Essandoh is Dr. Latham on Chicago Med

Perhaps Essandoh's most complex role to date is as Dr. Isidore Latham on Chicago Med. Dr. Latham is a cardiothoracic surgeon who has appeared frequently as a recurring character since the show's second season. As an adherent to orthodox Judaism, Dr. Latham's faith informs his practice and his commitment to his patients, and he also has Asperger syndrome. This fact initially put him at odds with series regular Dr. Connor Rhodes (Colin Donnell), who found his bedside manner to be cold. However, the longer the two doctors worked together, the more Rhodes came to understand Latham's deeply held convictions and desire to help in the way he knows best.

Of his character, Essandoh told fan site One Chicago Center"The thing I like about Latham is he's an incredibly talented surgeon and he really believes in what he's doing. He's a person who is about exactitude... It's about fixing this patient and getting onto the next one."

Fans of what Dr. Latham brought to Chicago Med were nervous when it was announced that Essandoh had landed a starring role in the CBS legal drama The Code. However, Essandoh kept one foot planted in the world of Chicago Med, and when The Code wasn't picked up for a second season, he returned to his Chicago home, where he remains.