Milo Ventimiglia He may be on network TV, but you might not know that he’s in another drama with a colorful cast.
Jack Milo. The actor who played the role of patriarch extraordinaire Jack Pearson This Is Us — a role that earned him three Emmy nominations and the affection of America — aims to play a long con with his new drama series. Or, a con artist for a long period. ABC’s The Company You Keep (Feb. 19), inspired by the Korean drama My fellow citizens!Ventimiglia is a skilled high-stakes criminal named Charlie. His father, mother, sister and brother are also con artists and partners-in-crime. He falls for Emma (Catherine Haena Kim), a CIA agent who is from a powerful family. Charlie and Emma don’t know the occupation of the other, so they just chose the wrong person.
Ventimiglia: How did he bring this hustle to fruition? What type of cons will Charlie run? Can two people who keep a great secret from one another find a true romance? Ventimiglia is also the executive producer of the series. Here, he explains everything. Company He now keeps this rom-con.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY This Is UsWas there any criteria or goals you had beyond just choosing something that was un-Jackworthy?
MILO VENTIMIGLIA That was actually first and foremost: Let’s let Jack be who Jack was — and let’s give the man a break. As an artist, I would love to be able to do something completely different. Those were my only two points when looking at characters. Let’s make him a father and a husband. Just a guy, whatever life throws at him.
I knew this. [Company executive producer] John Chu is a casual businessman. His friends spoke with Russ when he suggested this project. [Cundiff, co-founder of Ventimiglia’s DiVide Pictures, which produces Company] Deanna [Harris, DiVide’s VP of development], it was like, “Oh, that’s just interesting — a con man who gets involved with a CIA officer. Sure. I’m curious.” Then we heard from Julie Cohen, the pilot’s author. [and serves as executive producer/showrunner]It was magical to see the possibilities of what the show could become and the characters I could explore.
Charlie Nicoletti, in my opinion, is nothing remarkable. He is simple and straightforward. While he wants to go unnoticed when he goes into the con world, he needs to present something that is both remarkable and memorable. Being an actor is difficult. It can be hard to be engaging and people will forget you. He can be a chameleon, and he will disappear. This is what we are trying to do now. We want to find out what the Nicolettis have been up too, and what they’ve been doing in grifting. And how that affects Charlie. He is not very lucky in love and suddenly he has this amazing thing. All of it predicated upon lies with a woman working in law enforcement. This puts Charlie’s family and livelihood in serious danger. It’s complex. This complexity is my favorite.
What other skins will Charlie slip into? Which con skills will Charlie be showing off?
Conning is about reflecting the emotions of those you are trying to get after. If you’re happy I’m happy. If you’re unhappy, I’m sorry. If you are anxious, I am anxious. It’s more that skill set to read people and understand how to get them into where you want them to be in order to take advantage of what it is you’re wanting from them — that’s probably the best skill to have in the world of cons. Yes, we have some slight of hand. Although we have some tricks and magic to use, it’s more about the psychology than the mechanics. As we pull these con’s and shift through the world, paying our debt to the Irish mob for conning us out of 10,000,000 dollars crypto, we must find targets that fit our moral code. We don’t take anything from people who aren’t worthy. We have to ensure that we aren’t stealing from anyone. It’s about creating characters that are real, grounded, and easy to identify with.
Identity will clearly be a theme in a show like this, and Charlie seems to be bound by family — and hemmed in by it. He’s made sacrifices for his family and is now trying to hide the fact that it has had an impact on his personal life.
He is a good bad man because of it. This is a play on two-fold. He is morally upright and his heart is right. However, he’s also a bad man in terms of his profession. He’s talented at what he does. He’s a bad guy, but he’s a good one. He can excel in the world where he does not excel in his personal life. For years, that was what I had experienced. My personal life took second place to my professional life. My professional life was always thriving and doing very well. However, I never understood the importance of personal success. However, I can relate to Charlie’s struggles and desire to have it. And I understand that there must be shifts within his professional space.
ABC Milo Ventimiglia & Catherine Haena Kim discuss ‘The Company You Keep.
How would you describe Charlie and Emma’s relationship? It must be exhausting for both of them to explore intimacy and honesty while still keeping their secrets.
He is hiding it from her to avoid judgment. “She isn’t going to accept this part of my life. She doesn’t care enough about me and what she thinks of me to accept that I’m a criminal. Charlie is the one who tortures me. Emma’s story is quite different. She may be hiding something, but she is doing so for a very good reason. National security. The good and the right. It’s also operational security. Because of her sensitive nature, she can’t tell anyone what she does. That’s one of those sad situations. You have the option of choosing that work or having that work choose you. Then your life may not be yours anymore. There are many complications that arise from two people falling in love. They will be obstructed by everything, even their own.
What struck you immediately about Catherine’s chemistry and your relationship?
Emma saw her in the first round tapes. I still remember sitting down with Russ to watch tapes. Julia sat next to me and watched tapes. And then, I thought to myself, “Let’s keep Emma in the mix.” Her portrayal of Emma was both vulnerable and strong, and it was this vulnerability that made her stand out from all the auditions. It was easy to understand once we were in front of each other. Emma was understood by her, as well as the need for growth to make this character fully realized. Catherine had a strong desire to portray the strong Asian American woman she represented on camera. It’s incredible. It’s important to work with people who want to be there. She is very passionate about being there and her talent matches that desire. This comforts me both as a scene producer as well as as a scene partner.
The pilot introduces viewers and the criminals who are involved in Europe’s largest drug trafficking ring. It involves Charlie’s 10-million-dollar debt. The story will continue for the whole season with every episode containing a con each week.
It is exactly that. ABC wanted a con procedural that featured serialization stories to help the characters grow. The show should be about character. It’s fine if there are well-written, tightly-wrapped stories about cons, with a clear line about how the Nicolettis have fallen in debt to the Irish mob. That’s how it works. Felicia Terrell plays Daphne Finch. She is just too intense an actor to be a one-off. No, no, no, no, no. Her talent offers us an opportunity. Her character is an opportunity. This is our chance to tell the story of the larger, more complex game taking place for Charlie, the Nicoletti family, the Irish mob, Emma Hill at CIA and how it can tie into her political dynasty.
While it may be a bold show artistically, it is actually five shows. There are Charlie and Emma. You have Charlie as a conman, Emma as a CIA officer. And then you have Charlie’s family and everything going on with that — his sister, the wonderful Sarah Wayne Callies, being a single mom of a deaf girl [Shaylee Mansfield]His father was his. [William Fichtner] Memory loss and its impact on his mom [Polly Draper]. Then, Emma deals with her family and her brother on the other side. [Tim Chiou] Running for the Senate and her father [who was a former governor and is played by James Saito]. They are the dualities between them. They’re all criminals. But they have different hats.
ABC Catherine Haena Kim & Milo Ventimiglia, “The Company You Keep”
An entire family of con artist families is inherently complicated. Do you choose to be con artist like your parents or do you find yourself drawn into this world? What agency did Charlie have? Do you think it is possible to trust family members who lie for a living?
An episode of our podcast will be available that explains the history of the Nicoletti families. It will cover how grifting started with Fran and Leo, as well as Fran’s involvement. We’ll also discuss how Fran’s involvement and how it influenced their children’s upbringing. They ran scams at horse racing tracks when they were younger and how it evolved into their natural proclivity. Charlie is a master at it. He is a terrible at it. He knows this is the sword that he must use. He can succeed, and he can look after his family. He will be able to look after his family, except for the blind side to love that happened to him in the pilot.
What attracted to you about the possibility of your show being broadcast on a network? Some called This Is Us The last big network TV hit. But, you see more potential there.
I’m a broadcaster. I truly, truly am. Everything I’ve done, I broadcast from H.eroes To Gilmore Girls. The only thing I believe I did was Mob City. This was basic cable. It wasn’t cable-cable. Actors are imagining they can push the boundaries in cable. It’s true. You can play with language, subject matter, and storylines. While you can push the boundaries a lot more than that, I still believe that broadcast can provide a platform for excellent storytelling and elevated storytelling. As long as broadcast embraces me, I will embrace it. Even down to the standards and practices. [Laughs.] I thought, “Wait! We are Sundays at 10:10 p.m. So what kind of language are we allowed to use? “How far can we push the envelope to provide an audience with a more tangible experience?”
It’s also nice to stay within the Disney ecosystem. We have ABC, then we can access Hulu. Two bites at the same apple. You have two audiences to reach. It’s more than just a pay programmer like HBO, or a subscription-based program. [service] Like Netflix. It’s exciting. The idea that anyone can turn on ABC from anywhere can be a joy. It’s priceless.
Is there one thing you can be certain about this show?
Fun. Fun. It’s full of action, excitement, romance, and deep emotional feelings. It’s enjoyable. We’re not going to bang someone over the head with a message — we’re going to just tell a story and show you these characters that are experiencing things. We hope people don’t feel like they are alone. Too Although Charlie is similar professionally, they may be able to relate to him personally. Or they could look at Emma, not understanding the level of national security required to continue to work as a CIA officer. However, they can identify and trust a woman who wants to fall in love. There’s a lot to be done.
How can I be sure you’re not trying to scam me?
This is the problem, man. You don’t know.
This interview was edited for clarity and length.
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