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In Altered Carbon, the first episode opens with Kovacs in what is in this question called his “birth sleeve”, and IMDb lists as “O.G. Kovacs”, played by Byron Mann. O.G. meaning “original”, if I am down with the kids!

However, also in the series (including episode 1) we see him in a sleeve that IMDb calls “Kovacs Prime” played by Will Yun Lee, and in episode 7, "Nora Inu", is described on screen as his “original skin”.

Both being Asian characters, it’s not obvious to me which of these is supposed to be the real Kovacs that is aged up from the child Kovacs we see in various episodes.

I have only seen up to episode 7, but IMDb does not list any further appearances of Byron Mann. If he is in fact the original Kovacs, then how does he get back into that sleeve after the stronghold attack. Is it explained?

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It's pretty clear in the opening scene that Byron Mann's Kovacs is not the original; when he's having sex with Sarah in the shower he has a flashback to Falconer, and I'm pretty sure it's not the same profile. (Meaning that the earlier Kovacs was the one played by Lee.) He also alludes to the fact that this is just another sleeve for him when Sarah says "Are you always this much of an asshole?" and he replies "Every sleeve, every time."

Further, I can't find the original press release, but I found numerous references to a Netflix press release that identified Will Yun Lee as the original Kovacs:

This sleeve is the one Kovacs spent most of his life with. In a Netflix press release, Lee's version of Kovacs is referred to as the "Original Sleeve" or "OG Takeshi Kovacs."

Will Yun Lee has also identified himself on Twitter as "O.G. Takeshi Kovacs."

Unleashed. O.G. TAKESHI KOVACS. Tomorrow @netflix @Skydance @AltCarb 2.27.20

So it's pretty clear that Will Yun Lee is portraying Kovacs's birth sleeve, and Byron Mann is just playing a later sleeve that Kovacs was using to try and escape the Protectorate.

Spoilers for season 2:

In season 2 Will Yun Lee's Kovacs shows up when a backup copy of his stack is spun up and resleeved in his original body to hunt himself down.

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  • Perhaps it would be clearer from a re-watch of ep1. I guess IMDb is wrong then. Thanks.
    – Darren
    Jul 8 '20 at 6:27
  • Although, the flashback isn’t really evidence. There’s no on-screen evidence at that point that the sleeve he’s in when with Falconer is his original. He might have moved sleeves in between and then gone back to his birth sleeve - which was put on ice IIUC.
    – Darren
    Jul 8 '20 at 6:39

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