EXCLUSIVE: Chicago Med star Brian Tee will exit the series following 8 seasons on the medical drama with episode 9 titled “Could Be The Start Of Something New” airing December 7 serving as his final appearance. He will however return for episode 16 offscreen to make his directorial debut.
It was Tee’s decision to depart from the series following the end of his 6-year contract to spend more time with his family—his daughter with his wife Mirelly Taylor, Madelyn was 5 weeks old when he started on Chicago Med—and to pursue other opportunities expanding on his experience as an actor, a budding director, and producer.
“Playing Dr. Ethan Choi on Chicago Med has been such a gift and a blessing. I am forever grateful to our fans and my colleagues both in front of and behind the camera as I embark on a new journey. I am forever indebted to Dick Wolf, NBC, and Universal Television for choosing me,” Tee told Deadline in an exclusive interview.
“What we’ve been planning for Dr. Choi’s sendoff is fitting, and it’s beautiful,” he added. “I think the fans are going to absolutely love it. It’s going to bring a little bit of the new Ethan and a little bit of the old one. Know that episode 9 is going to be an amazing one.”
When Tee began his career in Hollywood, he mostly booked roles playing Asian bad guys. In fact, before he joined the cast of Medhe appeared in a one-off episode on Chicago PD titled “The Three Gs” which aired in 2015 as part of the cop drama’s second season playing such a role.
Tee is proud of every character he’s brought to life throughout his career because they all led him to Dr. Choi, a military veteran and successful Asian doctor who would go on to become the ED’s chief resident and later, chief of Emergency Medicine at Gaffney Chicago Medical Center. The role that would take his career and Asian representation to another next level.
“I’ve thought a lot about what Dr. Choi represents. As far as my career path, it was the school of hard knocks for a long time,” he shared. “I took what the industry granted me as far as opportunities were concerned. At that time, the box I was allowed to play in around 20-plus years ago, was very limited; it was very stereotypical, and cliche like playing the Asian bad guy archetype. I have nothing against it; I was able to build a career but it never propelled me to a level of which I knew I was capable. Then literally, as I’m playing Shredder in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtlesthe villain of all Asian villains, my phone rings and it’s my agent asking me if I want to go to Chicago.”
He continued, “Ethan Choi represents to me the first time I’ve actually played a protagonist in such a strong way and he catapulted me into a different arena, one where I feel the perception of not only myself but Asian Americans had been changed. Just having an Asian face as a leading man was a stepping stone if not the ladder.”
Tee stepped back from shooting Med last season only appearing in 8 of the 22 episodes to star opposite Nicole Kidman in Amazon’s Expats, from writer/director/EP Lulu Wang. The series, set against the fabric of Hong Kong, tells the story of an international community whose lives are bound together forever after a sudden family tragedy.
With the support of the executive producers Med, Dr. Choi was written off temporarily after he was shot by a patient in the Season 7 finale.
“This was massive; I’m still pinching myself,” Tee, who teased the series would premiere in 2023, said. “Lulu Wang is a genius. She created a writers’ room that consisted of all Asian American women to tell this story, and her directing is so incredible. It felt like we were doing a six-and-a-half-hour movie because of the talent that she brings. Working on Expats was a complete shift from Chicago Med, obviously with the story, but then also the nuances of what we were trying to convey. I was also completely enamored to work opposite the legendary Nicole Kidman; going toe-toe with someone of that caliber as an artist was a beautiful thing. It helped me fulfill certain things within myself that I knew I could and that I wanted to.”
When Dr. Choi appeared in the Season 8 premiere of Med, he was on the mend and dealing with the death of his father when a surprise reunion took place between him and April (Yaya DaCosta). Could this mean a happily ever after is in the cards for the pair?
“Is her return and my exit a coincidence? I do not know. I know the audience is guessing the navigation in which they’ll take our relationship if there is one, and where they’ll take Dr. Choi as a character,” Tee teased. “I think the relationship between Ethan and April has been so incredible, impactful, and very dramatic. For me, it was so heartwarming to see them together. Knowing they were bringing her back to help along with Ethan’s exit is such a blessing. I feel fulfilled with the complete story arc for my character after 8 seasons. What I can say is that they’re bringing in the kitchen sink to really do justice for Ethan which I hope leaves everyone with a very full heart.”
He added, “I hope Dr. Choi is remembered for being the moral compass of Chicago Med that the fans and patients trusted. He always did everything he could for his patients to earn their trust and to give them the best care he could. As far as a legacy, that’s the essence of what I hope he leaves behind. When he walks away, that trust he instilled will remain there.”
Tee remained mum as to whether death for Dr. Choi is on the table but as someone who doesn’t like to say goodbye, he’d be open to coming back in the future.
“I would never say no. Yes, if the opportunity arises, absolutely. I feel like I’ve been a part of this family and will remain a part of this family, whether it’s on-screen or off-screen. So if there’s an opportunity to bring him back, I would absolutely jump right in. For now, it’s just, I’ll see you later. I’ll be back around. You can’t get rid of me,” he concluded.