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Why Stronghold Kovacs From Altered Carbon Looks So Familiar

With all the body hopping in Netflix's cyberpunk thriller Altered Carbon, it can be pretty hard to keep track of who's riding whom (or who's in which sleeve, in the show's parlance). The series debuted on Netflix back in 2018 with a big budget and the visual effects to show for it. Adapted from the famous Takeshi Kovacs series of science fiction novels by author Richard K. Morgan, the show asks its audience to wrap their brains around the very highest of concepts. 

In Morgan's far future world, humans have achieved a kind of false immortality by rendering their consciousness down to digital code that can be stored on cortical stacks implanted in their spinal columns. With a cortical stack fully loaded, a "person" can experience body death and still transport their consciousness into a new host body, allowing them to go on living their life. The series' protagonist, Takeshi Kovacs, is possessed of one such cortical stack. In the course of the series so far, we've seen him swap frequently between different "sleeves" — both artificial and organic — as he seeks to challenge the New World Order in the futuristic metropolis of Bay City. 

No character has shuffled through as many sleeves as Kovacs, and a new sleeve usually means a new actor bringing Morgan's famous character to life on the screen. Kovacs has been portrayed by Joel Kinnaman (House of Cards), and Anthony Mackie (who portrays Sam Wilson in the Marvel Cinematic Universe), but the version of Altered Carbon's haunted lead that has everyone trying to place him is actually the one we see in the series' very first scene. That version of Kovacs — often referred to as the "Stronghold Kovacs" or "Kovacs Prime" — is played by Korean-American actor Will Yun Lee, and there's a good reason that he looks so familiar.

Will Yun Lee is a bona fide action star

Lee was born in Arlington, Virginia to Korean immigrant parents who raised him in close contact with his extended family. He moved frequently during his formative years, an experience that exposed him both to the mean streets of the Bronx in the 1980s and white sand Hawaiian beaches (via IMDb). During his time living in San Francisco, California, he became an accomplished martial artist, earning himself a scholarship to the University of California at Berkeley.

It was during his tenure at Berkeley that Lee became seriously interested in acting, and realized that his martial arts background might give him a leg up in casting. The fit 49-year-old action star has been named one of People Magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People, as well as one of their Sexiest Men Alive — and his handsome visage and martial arts abilities have earned him several memorable roles in film and on TV.

To name a couple, he appeared in 2013's The Wolverine and 2018's Rampage opposite Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, and had a recurring role on the HBO vampire drama True Blood. His most familiar role, though, is probably that of human trafficker Sang Min in CBS' Hawaii Five-0, a role he would reprise on several occasions over the course of the series' run. He also continues to play a less action-oriented recurring role as Dr. Alex Park on another popular TV series, ABC's The Good Doctor.

Although his role as Stronghold Kovacs may be his biggest opportunity to date, if you're a fan of action movies and TV, chances are good you've already seen him and his impressive stunts — and it sure seems like his star is continuing to rise.