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Who is that actor: Michael Paul Chan

September 7, 2010

When asked by a Washington Post reporter what traits he had in common with his alter ego Lt. Mike Tao, actor Michael Paul Chan quipped, “We both shave our heads.”

There’s a short list of male actors (J.K. Simmons, Don Cheadle, Frank Langella) Mark Wahlberg) who I’d love to talk the craft acting with over dinner, and character actor Michael Paul Chan is at the top of the list! Regardless of the roles he plays, Chan provides elegance and nuance that appears effortless.

Chan’s thoughts on being a working Asian actor:

Well, look at television. How many Asians do you see? Um, three? [Laughs] I remember there was an Asian-American reporter that I met and he said, “I guess you’re it!” There was one Asian-American on television and that was me. There’s just not that many of us. The roles are becoming a little more colorful. The show that I’m on The Closer, we don’t really sit around and talk about our ethnicities. It’s just is. Our show is wonderfully diverse. All people of color are basically represented and we don’t really dwell on that. We just work as a tight ensemble. [In other shows] it is highlighted.


In addition to a career boasting memorable performances in films such as Falling Down, Spy Game and The Insider, Chan is a founding member of the kickass Asian American Theater Company.

From their website:

By developing and performing plays through workshops, staged readings, and full productions, we aim to entertain our audiences and train our artists. Through live performances that express the diversity of Asian American experiences, we seek to enrich American theater and increase the presence of Asian American stories on stage.

Selected Highlights:

TJ Hooker, Trapper John MD, Murder, She Wrote, The Joy Luck Club, Cagney & Lacey…

Fans of Arrested Development will remember Chan from his six episode stint as Judge Lionel Ping!

Chan can currently be seen on the TNT hit The Closer, where he plays Lt. Mike Tao, who likes to snack more than Brenda!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 7, 2010 10:44 pm

    omg, I was just in the next room watching an old episode of Arrested Development with him in it!!! I remember him on Wonder Years too, my parents were gaga for that show.

  2. September 7, 2010 10:47 pm

    He’s also in the 90s nighttime soap based on Valley of the Dolls.

    In other news, there was a 90s show of Valley of the Dolls (I have some pop culture gaps from college, since I had no cable there and the internet was mostly for IRC chatrooms).

  3. September 8, 2010 6:42 am

    LOL. I hope that series is online somewhere in its entirety. I would love to watch that. He’s so awesome. That’s the best IMDB credit ever.

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