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Why Chimney On 9-1-1 Looks So Familiar

If you work as a first responder, it's inevitable that you're going to deal with injury and tragedy. Unfortunately for Howard "Chimney" Han on Fox's "9-1-1," he can't seem to leave that part of the job at the office. 

The show had only aired a couple of episodes before it planted a piece of rebar straight through the middle of Chimney's skull in a freeway accident. His survival was miraculous, his recovery swift. He was back on the job in a matter of weeks in real-world time. So of course in the second season, he got stabbed by his new love interest's (Jennifer Love Hewitt) ex-husband (Brian Hallisay) and was only narrowly saved from bleeding out on the floor of her home. Thankfully, in more recent seasons, Chimney has done a little better limiting his near-death experiences to those encountered while he's on the clock. 

With him narrowly surviving for the show's five seasons so far, audiences have had plenty of opportunities to see actor Kenneth Choi perform, and to wonder where they might have seen him before. Here are some of the places you might recognize him from — on prestige TV, in big-time blockbusters, and in acclaimed awards season fare from legendary directors.

Kenneth Choi went toe-to-toe with the Sons of Anarchy

After a decade in the Hollywood trenches, appearing in bit parts on shows such as "The West Wing," "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," and playing a henchman on "24," Kenneth Choi landed a recurring role on "Sons of Anarchy" in 2008 as Lin Triad gang leader Henry Lin.

Henry lurked around the series' periphery for most of its seven seasons, appearing for a couple of episodes at a time as his gang's various illicit businesses brought him into conflict or cooperation with the show's main SAMCRO chapter. But Choi stuck around, and in the show's seventh and final season got a major arc after Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam) comes to blame him and his gang for the murder of his wife Tara, which sees Henry and the Lin Triad come into direct conflict with SAMCRO and Jax.

In 2014, Choi told Entertainment Weekly that his appearance on "Sons of Anarchy" raised his profile more than anything he had done up to that point. "I'll say 80-85 percent of the time I get recognized, it's for 'Sons,' and the one thing that I know is they love the show," Choi said. Though Henry wouldn't survive the show's final season, Choi said that was okay by him. "I was actually hoping that Henry Lin was gonna die. I think everybody this last season wants to go out in a blaze of glory."

Kenneth Choi helped take down Red Skull in Captain America: The First Avenger

In 2011, Kenneth Choi made the leap from TV and small film parts to big-time blockbusters when he joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe for "Captain America: The First Avenger." Choi played Jim Morita, a member of The Howling Commandos, who helps Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) take down Hydra weapons bases behind enemy lines during World War II.

"I was a comic book kid growing up," Choi said for a behind-the-scenes feature, "so being on set literally running through the forest shooting my grease gun and Cap, Steve Rogers is 20 feet from me, it's literally a dream come true."

Choi also earned the rare distinction of playing two different characters in the MCU, along with actors like Gemma Chan ("Captain Marvel" and "Eternals") and Laura Haddock ("Captain America: The First Avenger" and "Guardians of the Galaxy"), when he returned to the fold to play Principal Morita of the Midtown School of Science and Technology in "Spider-Man: Homecoming." The new Morita is purportedly the original's grandson –– a picture of his forebear in uniform sits in his office –– but given that his old buddy Captain America's pre-retirement time travel and interest in high school education, that narrative is perhaps worth questioning now.

Kenneth Choi let loose with The Wolf of Wall Street

In 2013, Kenneth Choi jumped ship to join Marvel's true archrival: the Martin Scorsese Cinematic Universe.

Choi played Chester Ming in the director's 2013 celebration/denunciation of American greed and Wall Street capitalism, "The Wolf of Wall Street." Chester was one of the early employees of Jordan Belfort's (Leonardo DiCaprio) brokerage house Stratton Oakmont, coming from a background, as Belfort explains in his narration, of selling "tires and weed." He's there in the background celebrating during many of the Stratton Oakmont scenes and is seen prominently fending off an FBI investigation into the firm through the continuous ingestion of donuts, danishes, and other pastry items.

Choi told NextShark that Scorsese was demanding about Chester's size, saying that he was written in the script as being like "Oddjob from the James Bond movies," so the actor gained 20 to 25 pounds for the role, most of them presumably through means other than eating donuts on camera. That extra weight affected his performance. "From the very beginning, I knew that I wanted to approach the character of Chester with subtlety," Choi said. "He's one of the big guys in the room. He doesn't need to say or do much to be a presence."

Kenneth Choi was not The Last Man on Earth

A few years later, Kenneth Choi got the chance to exercise the comedy muscles he stretched on "The Wolf of Wall Street" when he took a recurring role in Fox's post-apocalyptic sitcom "The Last Man on Earth."

Choi appeared on the show as Lewis, a survivor who joins Tandy's (Will Forte) group in the third season after arriving on a yacht with Pat (Mark Boone Junior). It is admittedly a low bar, but of all the show's survivors, Lewis might be the most well-adjusted. Unfortunately, this makes him kind of an odd man out in the group of weirdos Tandy has assembled around himself. Lewis' chief goal during his time on the series is to figure out if his partner Mark, who flew to Tokyo just before the virus outbreak, is alive. To that end, he works to teach himself how to fly so that he can cross the ocean and search for Mark. Unfortunately for him, his preparations were inadequate, and he crashes and dies seconds after his maiden flight.

But series executive producer Andy Bobrow told Den of Geek that Lewis was very close to getting a different ending, thanks to how much everyone enjoyed working with Choi. "When you're just meeting an actor, it's very easy to say, 'Hey, welcome aboard, we're gonna have some fun and then we're gonna kill ya.' But it's much harder to think that way once you've shot a few episodes. We loved Kenny from the start, and we were just starting to hit our stride with the character, so we had lots of discussion about changing course and keeping him in the group."

Kenneth Choi presided over The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

Kenneth Choi also earned a part in a very different kind of television series the same year of his "The Last Man on Earth" role when he was cast as Judge Lance Ito in Ryan Murphy's "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story."

As the judge overseeing Simpson's (Cuba Gooding Jr.) murder trial, Ito plays an outsized and controversial role in the proceedings, particularly in his decision not to recuse himself from the proceedings after it was revealed that his wife was the one-time supervisor of Detective Mark Fuhrman (Steven Pasquale), a key witness in the case. 

Choi told The Hollywood Reporter that playing the part made him realize how tough Ito must have had it during the trial. "I personally think he had the weight of the world on his shoulders as this sort of ringmaster in this circus played out on such a huge scale." But he said he tried not to think too much about what Ito should have done, instead focusing on getting into the headspace that might have caused him to do what he did. "Throughout the trial, there was a lot of criticism of Ito and a lot of the decisions he made. As an actor, I have to do the opposite. I can't criticize or be judgmental of the person I'm playing. I have to do my best to understand him and what he does."