This item contains information from the premiere of “The Company You Keep.”The Big Three give way to the big con. Milo Ventimiglia returned to television as a swindler on Sunday, following a brief hiatus following the end of NBC’s “This Is Us” in May after a six-season run.
Without his mustache, Jack Pearson stars in ABC’s “The Company You Keep” (10 p.m. EST/PST), written by Julia Cohen and Phil Klemmer and adapted from a Korean drama.
Charlie Nicoletti, played by Ventimiglia, 45, is devoted to his family’s con game. Yet, the first episode reveals that the suave Charlie is the one being scammed.
His fiancée, who steals $10 million from the Nicolettis in a high-stakes theft, leaving his family, who owns a Baltimore bar, in debt to a large criminal organization. Ventimiglia was drawn to the role of Charlie because it was so different from Jack, an adoring father of three and doting husband.
Charlie has “a lot of layers,” Ventimiglia says. With “The intricacy of the family’s con games need him to be a chameleon, charming, and intriguing. He has to be deadly as well.” In addition to “This Is Us,” Ventimiglia has appeared in NBC’s “Heroes” and the WB’s “Gilmore Girls.”
When considering a role, he searches for opportunities to have fun. “You have to understand that it has legs.” “he claims. “Therefore, as an actor, I was thinking, ‘Well, is this a character that will be tough and satisfying? Is it someone who will go the distance? ‘Do we have enough backstory for all of the characters in the show?’ And I believe we do.”
Charlie seeks solace in a hotel bar, where he meets Emma Hill (Catherine Haena Kim), a CIA agent who discovers her boyfriend is having an affair earlier that day. While drinking, the two jokingly lie to one other about their employment and backgrounds.
“Now tell me something true,” Emma insists. “I’m a criminal,” Charlie admits candidly, to which Emma answers, “I’m CIA.” They both laugh off the fact and wind up spending 36 hours getting to know each other and having passionate sex in a hotel suite.
“At the beginning, we’re looking at two trains on a crash track,” Ventimiglia explains. “How do lives, hearts, and emotions unfold after that?” Charlie is divided between chasing his new love interest and concentrating on his family’s business ventures.
“Charlie’s in a bit of a shift where he’s existing in the way that he’s existed for so long with his family,” Ventimiglia explains. “They’ve been pulling grifts and such since he and (Charlie’s sister) Birdie (Sarah Wayne Callies) were kids.
Everything comes naturally to him. So realizing that maybe you want something different and bigger, and the inspiration for that is a new romantic partner, I can definitely relate to that.”
The chemistry between Ventimiglia and Kim is off the charts. While the sequences appear sensual on TV, Kim characterizes them as humorous, ridiculous, and slightly unpleasant to film.
“It’s like we’re in this bathtub being all sensual and in the middle, I’m like, ‘If I see one more bubble, I’m going to murder you,'” she laughs. “There’s our amazing hair and makeup team and wardrobe team and they come in and somebody will bring me water and powder my nose and brush out my hair,” she says in a scene where the couple is having sex in bed.
‘This should be a service you get in real life,’ I think. Although though Charlie and Emma share a strong bond, their careers naturally put them at odds.
“Emma has been hunting the woman who is keeping Charlie’s family’s debts in her hands,” Kim, 38, explains. Despite “a great weekend fling,” which “develops into something more substantial,” they have no idea, of course, that things are going to get complicated professionally for both of them.
But, Ventimiglia claims that the protagonists will soon find who their true love interest is. “That happens really quickly,” he promises.