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Why Yao From Nine Perfect Strangers Looks So Familiar

Hulu's star-studded limited series "Nine Perfect Strangers" features big names like Nicole Kidman, Melissa McCarthy, and Michael Shannon, but even the supporting roles are filled by recognizable actors. More specifically, many of the supporting roles are filled by rising stars who may be leading shows like this in 10 or 20 years.

The limited series follows nine people in terrible emotional pain who gather for a spiritual retreat at a wellness resort called Tranquillum House, which is owned by a strange and mysterious woman named Masha Dmitrichenko (Kidman). The guests are willing to try anything to alleviate their suffering, which Masha takes advantage of by pushing them farther and farther. In fact, the group was assembled because she knew they would push each other. What is Masha up to? That's the mystery at the center of this expensive, well-acted drama from writer-producer David E. Kelley, who, along with his co-creator John-Henry Butterworth, is working in the same vein as his hits "Big Little Lies" and "The Undoing." In fact, "Nine Perfect Strangers" is based on a novel by Liane Moriarty, who also wrote the novel "Big Little Lies."

Masha's right-hand man is a character named Yao, a calming presence who is devoted to Masha but conflicted about the unethical things he has to do. He's played by rising star Manny Jacinto. Here's where you may have seen this talented actor before.

Manny Jacinto broke through on The Good Place

The Canadian actor seemed to come out of nowhere in 2016 with his scene-stealing, fan-favorite role on the acclaimed existential comedy series "The Good Place," which also launched his co-stars Jameela Jamil, D'arcy Carden, and William Jackson Harper to success. Before "The Good Place," he was mostly a guy who had bit parts like "Bellhop," "Security Guard," and "Sexy Guy Dancing." After "The Good Place," he was Jason Mendoza, the embodiment of "Florida Man."

Jason Mendoza is an extremely dumb but kind-hearted man from Jacksonville, Florida who died and went to the Good Place after suffocating in a safe during a robbery gone wrong. He loves EDM, the Jacksonville Jaguars, and whip-its. He develops a relationship with Janet (Carden), the not-actually-technically-alive assistant who was something like an Alexa with a human form.

The role launched Jacinto's career. He told Variety that he is grateful for "The Good Place," but he's been careful since completing the show to not choose "himbo" roles in order to avoid being typecast.

Manny Jacinto took a break from the Good Place for Bad Times

Manny Jacinto's first role in a major Hollywood movie was in the visually sumptuous 2018 neo-noir thriller "Bad Times at the El Royale." He reunited with "The Good Place" pilot director Drew Goddard for the film, which wasn't a box-office hit but, in the years since, has been developing into something of a cult classic, according to Collider.

Jacinto plays Waring "Wade" Espiritu, a member of the cult led by the evil Billy Lee (Chris Hemsworth). It's a small role, but Jacinto makes an impression in it. The movie was the first time we saw him rock a mustache and carry a gun.

"Bad Times at the El Royale" is about six strangers who converge at the titular hotel on the California/Nevada border. They all have secrets and are on the run from various problems, and the arrival of Billy Lee forces those secrets out into the open as they fight to survive the night.

Brand New Cherry Flavor is to Manny Jacinto's taste

The summer of 2021 is taking Manny Jacinto's career to another level, as he's appearing in two different prominent limited series released within a few days of each other. "Nine Perfect Strangers" is the second of the two. The first one, though, was the horror drama "Brand New Cherry Flavor," which was released on August 13.

In the gruesome, mind-bending thriller, Jacinto plays Code, an ex of the main character Lisa Nova (Rosa Salazar) with whom she stays when she arrives in Los Angeles. He's a drug dealer who puts Lisa in touch with some shady characters to help her with her quest for revenge against exploitative movie producer Lou Burke (Eric Lange).

Jacinto took the part for the opportunity to work with co-creator Nick Antosca, who previously made the horror anthology series "Channel Zero," a show that impressed him. "I can't articulate the feeling I was getting, but it was disturbing and weird and he just did so much with a lower budget project and I was like, 'Oh man, if this guy can make me feel this way with "Channel Zero," I can only imagine what he'll do with the big empire of Netflix,'" Jacinto told Variety.