The Company You Keep, starring Milo Ventimiglia, Gets Series Premiere Date – UPDATE

Milo Ventimiglia to star in The Company You Keep
Milo Ventimiglia to star in The Company You Keep

This Is Us star Milo Ventimiglia will star in ABC pilot of The Company You Keep as a con man who falls in love with a CIA agent. The actor has signed on to star in and exec produce The Company You Keep, an hourlong ABC drama pilot.

The series is based on the Korean format My Fellow Citizens. It is being written and EP’d by Julia Cohen (Legion, The Royals). Additional EPs include Jon M. Chu, Todd Harthan, Caitlin Foito, Russ Cundiff and Lindsay Goffman. According to Deadline, The Company You Keep juts got a series order by ABC for its mid-season schedule, premiering SUNDAY, FEB. 19

Official logline of The Company You Keep with Milo Ventimiglia

“A night of passion leads to love between con man Charlie (Ventimiglia) and undercover CIA officer Emma, who are unknowingly on a collision course professionally. While Charlie ramps up the ‘family business’ so he can get out for good, Emma’s closing in on the vengeful criminal who holds Charlie’s family debts in-hand — forcing them to reckon with the lies they’ve told so they can save themselves and their families from disastrous consequences.”

Milo Ventimiglia – The Company You Keep

Ventimiglia’s Co-star

Catherine Haena Kim has been cast as Emma in ‘The Company You Keep,’ an ABC drama pilot starring Milo Ventimiglia.

Emma is described as the self-deprecating black sheep of an Asian American political dynasty who has never been afraid to carve her own path despite the objections of her impressive family. When she meets Charlie (Ventimiglia) by chance in a bar, sparks fly and the two wind up falling in love. But with Emma unaware that Charlie is a lifelong grifter, while he is unaware that she’s a CIA officer on the tail of the very mobster who’s blackmailing his family, they’re on a collision course that could not only ruin their relationship but the lives of their two polar opposite families.

“You have two seemingly very different people who happen to be going through the same moment in both their lives, separately,” the actress tells EW. “So it’s that moment when you see somebody and they just get it, they get you, and you think, ‘Oh, it’s you. It’s going to be you.’ And the crazy thing is, even though they happen to meet in this lobby bar by chance, and they’re playing this fun lying line game and joking about what they actually do for a living, at some point Emma does say, ‘Now tell me something true,’ and he does. He says he’s a con artist and she tells him she’s CIA. But that’s the tricky thing about lying, right? It’s hard to tell once you start lying what’s actually true and what’s not.”

That moment helps to establish one of the show’s pervasive themes.

“When I started working on this character, one question kept coming up for me: ‘Can I trust you?’,” says Kim. “Because we ask that a lot. We ask that when we’re falling in love: ‘Can I trust you with my heart?’ For Emma, who comes from this high-powered political dynasty, known as the Asian American Kennedys, growing up has meant a lot of bullshit and optics. And it’s meant: ‘Can I trust you? Are you being real with me right now or is this just for show?’ And with work, where she’s constantly dealing with criminals and assets who may or may not be telling the truth, it’s: ‘Can I trust you?'”

Like Charlie, the highly perceptive Emma has her guard up after her love life destructs. Unlike Charlie, whose family owns a bar and swindles rich/immoral people, Emma is firmly entrenched on the right side of the law as an undercover federal agent. And instead of a bar, her family owns lots of influence in D.C., and she has shied away from that shiny arena.

“In the pilot, Charlie talks about how he’s fully engrossed in the family business,” explains Kim. “And Emma talks about how I want nothing to do with our family business of politics. [Laughs] There is a lot of love there with the Hills, and it looks a little bit different than the Nicolettis. It shows you that love comes in all different kinds of ways. And as the season unfolds and there are big reveals about the family — about the past, about certain transgressions — you’ll see that it actually brings them closer together.”

Whose family will pose a bigger obstacle for this nascent, knotty relationship?

“I can probably justify both for different reasons,” she says. “The Nicolettis. It’s obvious, right? Because they’re a family of grifters. So at some point if they find out that Emma is law enforcement and she’s CIA, that’s going to be a disaster for them because they’re always going to wonder if she’s going to rat them out. And with this family of politicians where it’s all about optics, you have this blue-collar, runs-a-bar Charlie, and is that going to be good enough? Before if they even find out, of course, that he’s a criminal.”

Viewers can expect to see two starkly different pursuits of success by these families.

“The writers [led by co-showrunners Julia Cohen and Phil Klemmer] talked about it: When you look at the Nicolettis and the Hills, it’s about the American dream — and the American dream not exactly panning out to be what you thought it was going to be,” Kim says. “That’s really interesting because I’m the first generation born here. My parents moved here for the American dream. My parents had normal office jobs in Korea and they came to New York, they were pedaling whatever they could at flea markets and selling umbrellas in Times Square, and they spoke no English. I imagine as exciting as it was, it was nothing like what they thought it was going to be. And it goes back to how nothing ever really is — for better and worse.”

So… is this a family drama of sorts? Or a workplace thriller? Or a romantic dramedy? Yes.

“I’ve been trying to think of a good way to describe the show, because it’s kind of a kitchen sink of shows,” she says of Company, which was loosely based on the Korean series My Fellow Citizens! and whose executive producers include Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu.

“You have a love story. You have the family drama. Then there’s con artist heists and CIA stuff. Ultimately, I do think it’s a love story. Charlie and Emma who are seemingly so different, but you want root for them anyway, even though they don’t make any sense. And it’s about love of family. It’s about loving your job — or caring about your job too much. And I like that nothing is quite what you think it’s going to be, and nobody is what you assume they’re going to be like. Not even my mom, [Grace, played by Freda Foh Shen], who makes a very strong entrance. Even with all these fun cons that the Nicolettis do, they’re always putting on a new mask, a new disguise.”

Pretending to be a data analyst at a logistics firm, Emma is spending her days protecting the world. While tracking a global fentanyl ring, she will cross paths with the Nicolettis, who scammed said cartel’s leader. 

“What drew me to a character like Emma, in a world where we love to overshare about everything — I always joke, ‘Sometimes you just see that salad and it is beautiful and you feel like the world just needs to know’ — you have people like Emma who want to be invisible,” Kim says. “And if they do their job right and they do it well, nobody will ever know.

And what I think is really cool is: Whenever we’ve seen CIA officers or spies on screen, we don’t always get to see them just being people. Sometimes you see a little bit of a love story, but you see them being super badass and doing these insanely extraordinary things, and you forget that they’re just human and sometimes they get stuck in traffic. Emma goes home to a mom that’s a lot and she’s falling in love, which is exciting and terrifying, and she’s just trying to figure it out like everybody else.”

To better understand the situations that require Emma to transform into super badass mode, did Kim make any visits to CIA HQ in Langley, Va., that she can’t tell us about?

“I haven’t spent any time at Langley yet, but they have invited us to come,” she notes. “I imagine at least you see a gift shop.”

In the meantime, she has been reading stacks of memoirs, including Valerie Plame’s Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House and Tracy Walder’s The Unexpected Spy: From the CIA to FBI, My Secret Life Taking Down Some of the World’s Most Notorious Terrorists.

“I wanted to specifically read books by female CIA officers because I thought it would be a little bit different and more applicable to what I’m doing,” says Kim. “I got a list from consultants for the show, and it actually turned out that one of the books I was reading, Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA by Amaryllis Fox — she is a good friend of the director [Ben Younger] from our pilot. She’s actually come to be an informal consultant for us because she’s now left the CIA.”

A veteran of TV with guest arcs on Hawaii Five-0BallersFBI, and Good Trouble, the now-headlining Kim has also gleaned on-set leadership knowledge from Ventimiglia.

“I appreciate that he’s just such a grounded, humble person for what a star he really is,” she reports. “Sarah Wayne Callies [who plays Ventimiglia’s onscreen sister, Birdie] says it best: ‘He’s the f—ing mayor when he’s on set.’ I’ve seen it firsthand and it’s true. He knows every single crew member’s name. But not even that. He knows about, like, the second cousin three times removed you mentioned once at a holiday. That’s what’s crazy.”

And yes, in case you’re about to ask, she was a big This Is Us fan.

“I bawled my eyes out every single week with everybody else,” she says with a laugh. “I don’t think I’ll ever look at a slow cooker the same ever again. There are no slow cookers on our show.”

As things heat up for her on screen with Ventimiglia — and as they aim to create another resonant TV romance, fresh off his last one — it all feels a bit trippy to Kim.

“You have these moments where you’re like, ‘Wait, we’re shooting at Paramount [where This Is Us was filmed]. That’s crazy!” gushes the actress. “I took over Mandy Moore’s trailer when we were shooting the pilot and I’m like, ‘What?’ I remember jamming out to her music when I was growing up!’ It’s such a surreal little-kid dream-moment thing that happened. They are iconic. They’re this beautiful TV family couple. But at the same time, I don’t think Charlie and Emma are supposed to be them. They’re a completely different thing and a different beautiful couple that I hope people connect with and enjoy seeing every week for other reasons.”

Mostly, though, Kim just hopes that The Company You Keep will be good company for those in need of diversion at a dark time: Sunday night.

“I think about the Sunday scaries, when most people have to go back to work the next day,” she says. “If we get to help entertain you for a little bit on that night before, great. The show’s not going to beat you over the head with a message, even though it’ll make you think about the world. It’ll also be a fun escape from the world. It’s certainly not some depressing show about a crazy serial killer where you’re going to have to watch at least five puppy videos before you go to bed. It’s just a fun ride. Enjoy it.”

William Fichtner is set as a lead opposite Milo Ventimiglia and Catherine Haena Kim

Fichtner will play Leo. A former steel worker turned grifter, Leo is a master of the sleight of hand. Cards, shell games, pick-pocketing, Leo learned the fine art of the misdirect a long time ago. A proud man who’d do anything for his family, Leo has a lifetime of regrets and soon he won’t remember any of them. In the early stage of Alzheimer’s, Leo is determined to pull off one last big score to make his family financially secure before he loses his faculties.

The pilot will be shot off-cycle to accomodate This Is Us star Ventimiglia’s commitment to the departing NBC family drama series.

Sarah Wayne Callies will be Charlie’s sister

Callies (Prison Break, Colony) has been cast as Birdie, Charlie’s bossy big-sister and co-owner of the bar they run together that also serves as a front to their illegitimate family business. The character is a single mother to a hearing-impaired daughter.

Also joining the drama from writer Julia Cohen (The Royals) are James Saito (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) as Joe, Emma’s father; Tim Chiou (Truth Be Told, Space Force) as David, Emma’s brother; Freda Foh Shen (911) as Grace, Emma’s mother; and Felisha Terrell (Queens, Dynasty) as Daphne, the new head of the Maguire crime family.

Cohen, Ventimiglia, Jon M. Chu, Todd Harthan, Caitlin Foito, Russ Cundiff and Lindsay Goffman exec produce the drama. The Company You Keep hails from 20th Television, the studio behind NBC’s This Is Us where Ventimigila is based with an overall deal.

Sachin Bhatt (Queer as Folk) To Recur In Season 1

Bhatt will portray Agent Vikram Singh, an FBI agent who is considered one of the good ones. He is described as charming, witty, and handsome.

Promotional Photos of The Company You Keep with Milo Ventimiglia

When you were thinking about your next job after This Is Us, did you have any parameters or specific goals beyond choosing something that was decidedly un-Jack?

MILO VENTIMIGLIA:  That was actually first and foremost: Let’s let Jack be who Jack was — and let’s give the man a break. If I can just kind of find something different, as an artist, it would be pretty satisfying to just dive into something different, something new. Those were the only two things in looking at characters was: Let’s make him not be a father, let’s make him not be a husband, just a guy on his own, however that comes at us.

I had known [Company executive producer] John Chu casually in business, and when he came up with this project, and his folks spoke with Russ [Cundiff, co-founder of Ventimiglia’s DiVide Pictures, which produces Company] and 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.” And then we’d heard the take from Julie Cohen, who wrote the pilot [and serves as executive producer/showrunner], and there was just something magical about what the show could be and what I could explore of the character.

Charlie Nicoletti in my mind is unremarkable.

He’s very plain, very simple. He tries to be unnoticed, yet when he steps into that con world, he has to put something on that is remarkable and forgettable. As an actor, it’s challenging to be able to be engaging, and at the same time, people are going to forget you in the same breath if they’re ever talking to law enforcement or anything like that. He’s got to be a chameleon that kind of just disappears.

That’s what we’re working on now is understanding what the Nicoletti family’s gotten into, what they’ve been doing in the world of grifting, how their choices are affecting Charlie personally. He’s pretty unlucky in love, and all of a sudden he has this wonderful thing, all predicated on lies with a woman who works in law enforcement, and that puts his family and their livelihood and their world completely in danger. So it’s complicated. I like that complexity.

What kind of different skins will Charlie be slipping into? And what type of con skills will you be showcasing, whether it’s coin or card tricks?

The fundamentals of conning is reflecting who you’re going after, reflecting their emotional state. If you’re happy, I’m happy. You’re sad, I’m sad. If you’re anxious, I’m 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. Yeah, we’ve got some slight of hand.

We’ve got card tricks, magic kind of things, but it’s less about the mechanics and more about the psychology behind it. So as we’re pulling these cons and shifting through this world and paying back our debt from the Irish mob catching us conning them out of 10 million dollars crypto, we have to find targets that, one, fit within our moral code, because we don’t take from people that aren’t deserving of it. And two, we’ve got to make sure that we are clean in the act, whether it’s popping in as caterers and then going a little further to con an ambassador, posing as a photo crew, to a little later on being a gunrunner who’s very, very, very, very, very flashy in all his Gucci drippings and designer gold and all of that.

It’s creating these characters that are believable, they’re grounded, we could see who they are, but also making them very distinctly different from everyman Charlie.

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 has made sacrifices for his family in this line of work, and he’s tortured to be hiding this secret that has impacted his personal life.

It makes him a good bad guy. That’s a play on the words two-fold. He’s good morally; his heart’s in the right place. But he is also a bad guy, in terms of profession. But he’s also talented at what he does. He’s a good bad guy. He can excel in that world where he doesn’t excel in his personal life. Historically for years that had happened to me, where my personal life always took second seat to my professional life. My professional life was always firing on all cylinders and doing really well, and I never really understood the need for success in personal life. But I can definitely relate to Charlie’s struggles or desires to have that and want that, and understand that there’s got to be shifts in his professional space.

How would you describe the dynamic between Charlie and Emma? Exploring intimacy and honesty while holding fast to their secrets must be an exhausting highwire act for each of them.

He’s hiding it from her out of judgment. “She’s not going to accept this side of my life. Who I am and how she feels about me is not big enough for her to accept that I’m also a criminal.” And that’s Charlie’s torture. Emma’s is very different. She’s hiding something, but she’s hiding it for good reason. National security. The good and the just.

And it’s also operational security. She can’t let people know what she does because of the sensitive nature of what it is that she does. And that’s one of those unfortunate positions. If you pick that line of work, or that line of work picks you, you make a choice, and your life is not exactly your life anymore. So, the complications that happen with just simply two people who find love for one another. Everything is going to get in their way, including themselves.

What immediately struck you about your chemistry with Catherine?

She was in the first round of tapes that we saw for Emma. And I remember sitting with Russ and watching tapes, and sitting with Julia and watching tapes, and thinking to myself, “Let us keep her in the mix.” There was something that was vulnerable and strong and honest about her portrayal of Emma that always rose to the top of however many tapes we saw, however many auditions there were. And then once we got in front of one another, it just made sense.

She understood Emma, and she also understood the level of growth that she needed to make this fully formed character real. Also, there was a very strong willingness and want from Catherine to portray this strong Asian American woman on camera and represent. And it’s wonderful. You want to work with people that want to be there. She very much wants to be there, and her talent matches her want, which is comforting for me, not only as a scene partner, but also as a producer.

The pilot introduces viewers to several criminals involved in the largest drug trafficking ring in Europe, and it involves that 10-million dollar debt hanging over Charlie and his family. Will that story continue throughout the entire season, with each episode also containing a con of the week?

That’s exactly what it is. What ABC was wanting was to have a con procedural with a lot of serialization story happening for the growth of the characters. I would love the show to be all about character. But if there are neatly packed, neatly wrapped stories about cons that are happening with this through line of how the Nicolettis are now in debt to the Irish mob, that’s the way it’s going to be. And that’s the kind of structure and the shape that it takes.

Felicia Terrell, who plays Daphne Finch, is too fierce of an actor to just be the one-off, like, “Oh, that’s the opening con?” No, no, no, no, no.

We have an opportunity with her talent, an opportunity with her character. We have an opportunity to tell this larger, higher-stakes game that’s happening for Charlie, for the Nicoletti family, for the Irish mob, for Emma Hill at the CIA, as well as how it potentially can tie into her political dynasty family.

It’s such an ambitious show creatively, but it is truly five different shows. You have Charlie and Emma, you have Charlie as a con man, you have Emma as 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’s [William Fichtner] memory loss and how that impacts his mom [Polly Draper]. Then on the other side, everything that Emma is dealing with her family, with her brother [Tim Chiou] running for the Senate and her father [who was a former governor and is played by James Saito]. And the duality between those two worlds. They’re all kind of criminals, just wearing different hats.

The dynamics of an entire family of con artists are inherently fraught. When your parents are con artists, do you choose this life or are you just drawn into the fold? How much agency did Charlie have in that arena? Can you ever fully trust a family member who lies for a living?

We do have an episode coming up that gets into the history of the Nicoletti family, where we’re starting to understand where it comes from, the world of grifting, how it started with Leo and Fran, and Fran’s involvement, and then how it blended into their kids upbringing, running scams at horse racing tracks and whatnot when they were young, and then just finding a natural proclivity for it. Like, Charlie’s really f—ing good at it. To his detriment. He knows that’s the sword he’s got to fall on. He can succeed and he can look out for his family. And short of the blind side of love that happens to him in the pilot, hopefully that doesn’t happen to him again.

What appealed to you about bringing the show to a broadcast network? Some called This Is Us the last big network TV hit, but obviously you see more potential there.

I’m a product of broadcast. I really, truly am. I mean, everything that I’ve done is broadcast from Heroes to Gilmore Girls. The only thing that I think I did on the other side was Mob City. That was basic cable. It wasn’t even cable-cable. There’s a trend for actors thinking they can push the envelope in cable. And that’s true. You can toy with storylines and characters, language and subject matter.

You can push the limit a lot more, but I find that there’s still a lot of room for good storytelling and elevated storytelling that can happen in broadcast. And as long as broadcast is embracing me, I’m going to embrace it. Even down to standards and practices. [Laughs.] Just the other day, I’m like, “Wait a minute. We’re Sundays at 10 p.m. What kind of language can we get away with? How far can we actually push things to give an audience a closer-to-cable experience?”

And also what’s nice about staying within the Disney ecosystem, we’ve got ABC and then we’re on Hulu. We’ve got two bites at the apple. There’s two different audiences to hit; it’s a much larger net that you’re casting than just a paid programmer like HBO or a subscription-based [service] like Netflix. There’s something exciting about that. And I still love the idea that anybody can turn on ABC, wherever you happen to be, and you can watch our show for free. That’s truly priceless.

What’s one thing about this show that you can guarantee?

Fun. Just fun. There’s action, there’s excitement, there’s romance, there’s deep emotional notes. 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. Hopefully people don’t find themselves too similar to Charlie professionally, but maybe personally they can understand what he’s going through. Or they can look at Emma and not understand what level of national security it takes to hang on to being a CIA officer, but they can identify with a woman who just wants to be in love and find someone to trust. I think there’s just a lot of fun to be had.

How do I know you’re not conning me right now?

That’s the trouble, man. You have no idea.

“I just wanted to go faster on the gas. I didn’t want to stop at all,” he says, laughing.

“Charlie is very different from Jack Pearson, but there are some similarities in who they are as men looking out for their families,” Ventimiglia says. “[Charlie] is a criminal, but he’s a good bad guy. You’re rooting for him.”

The Nicolettis are definitely not the Pearsons, given the family crime business. What was Charlie’s entry in?

Milo Ventimiglia: His father, Leo [William Fichtner], was doing cons when Charlie was a kid. He just figured out how to be good at it. His mother, Fran [Polly Draper], and Leo ended up having his sister, Birdie [Sarah Wayne Callies], and Charlie be a part of the cons.

Charlie eventually decides to reform. How big a challenge will that be?
He’s a professional liar! Telling the truth is a massive challenge — and a consequence — for Charlie. His blind spot has always been romance. He wants to find love and live a normal life, but he’s not built for it. That’s an incredible complication.

Charlie doesn’t know that Emma (Catherine Haena Kim), whom he falls for in the pilot, is in the CIA. And she’s unaware that he’s a con artist. What draws them together?

Maybe it’s instinctual. Two people fresh off heartbreak find themselves playing a friendly, fun game in a hotel bar. Both crave companionship. But to fall in love and get involved with a CIA officer? That’s a whole lot of trouble!

Do you miss Jack’s mustache?

Not at all. But I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw Charlie Nicoletti at some point in a mustache or two.

Milo Ventimiglia on the big This Is Us connection you won’t see on The Company You Keep

When Milo Ventimiglia walked off the set at the end of filming This Is Us, he didn’t take one of the director’s chairs that he and the cast would sit in. Instead, he grabbed one of the plastic-and-metal blue folding chairs that the crew members used. “I wanted to remember the crew,” he summed up at the time.

Turns out, he’d wind up with a few more reminders of them. As in: their presence every day on set.

Indeed, Ventimiglia was so enamored with the extended family of This Is Us that when he began working on his new ABC drama The Company You Keep — in which he plays a con artist named Charlie who falls for undercover CIA agent Emma (Catherine Haena Kim) — he began recruiting as many crew members as he could to join him on his new adventure.

As this show was taking shape when we were developing a pilot episode, I was walking around the This is Us set [on the Paramount Studios lot in Los Angeles], quietly having conversations with department heads: ‘Hey, you think you’d want to come on board and do this?'” he tells EW. “And people are like, ‘Yeah, I’d love to.’ I talked to [the] hair-and-makeup [department], I talked to camera [operators], I talked to the grips and the electrics. Seeing the same familiar faces that are loading lights and loading gear and keeping the set safe is really important to me.”

In the end, a large chunk of the TIU crew stayed with him on the Paramount lot — where Company films — including director of photography Yasu Tanida, composer Siddhartha Khosla, costume designer Hala Bahmet, hair department head Michael Reitz, and makeup department head Zoe Hay.

(“There were three departments I could not get because they were still finishing up This Is Us and we were already prepping,” notes Ventimiglia.) The prevalence of familiar faces on the Company set was appreciated by the crew.

“I remember day one of the pilot, our key grip, Chris Stadler, and another Chris [Conahan], our rigging grip, were talking about setting something up for a shot. I walked in just to say, ‘Good morning,’ and Chris Stadler said to me, ‘Wow, man, you actually brought the whole crew back!’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, of course I did!'”

The benefits went beyond feel-good familiarity; it helped to create a shorthand during the pilot shoot.

“One, it sets up a positive environment,” shares Ventimiglia. “Two, it sets up a reliable environment. I don’t have to think about any of my departments that I worked six years with on This Is Us, because I know their level of quality. I know their level of creative. I know their level of respect to those that they’re working with. It gave us such an advantage to know the machine already worked…. And now, we’re hitting a stride where my crew is becoming everybody else’s crew. Catherine was like, ‘Milo, it’s so great you brought your crew from This Is Us.’ I said, “This is your crew. You will look at them as your crew, and they look at you as your crew. Just give it the time.’ And everybody’s feeling that.”

After wrapping up This Is Us, Ventimiglia endeavored to take on a new role that felt wholly different from Jack.

(In other words, no fantastic fathers, no devoted husbands.) But given all of the TIU alums behind the camera, one can’t help but wonder: Will viewers see some of that show’s actors appear on camera at one point? Might a former Pearson family member pop up as a grifter or target?

“It’s funny, Justin Hartley’s name already came up for something, but of course, he’s cutting together his pilot [The Never Game] over at CBS,” says Ventimiglia. “I just traded messages with Mandy [Moore], she’s in New York on [Dr. Death]. I read stories of [how] everybody else [is] busy, you know? I’m sure at some point people will pop up.”

One cast member already has — but behind the camera. Jon Huertas, who directed two episodes of TIU, will helm the show’s fifth episode.

“I can’t tell you how comforting it was to see [Jon] pop up in the prep schedule on emails, talking about character, talking about story, talking about shot lists,” says Ventimiglia. “It goes back to knowing that we have a crew at such a high level, I don’t have to worry about it.”

Ventimiglia’s character will have plenty to worry about in this 10-episode first season. Charlie is running cons with his mother, father, and sister (this is a family business of grifting) and he’s trying to shield his identity from Emma. (And with her job being a national security-level secret, she’s doing the same with him.) “Everything is going to get in their way, including themselves,” the actor sums up of this unlikely couple.

“Shave and a haircut. No joke. It was a shave and a haircut. I mean, we had this wonderful cast assembled by that point. Script ready to go, and then of course shot the pilot it, got it going. ABC picked it up and here we are with the series.”

“This one was a lot of fun. I think we touched a lot of hearts with This is Us. I think we hit a lot of families. We got to the core and foundation of being a human being — this one felt like entertainment,” Ventimiglia explained. “This one felt like, ‘Hey, let’s show some sexiness. Hey, let’s let’s show some fun, show a little crime and have everybody kind of ride that train for a little bit.”

“I mean we’ve been doing it on that show going on six years and for me, the product of my work is dependent on my working environment, personally. And to work with my crew — same camera, grip, electric, hair, makeup, transportation folks and faces that I’d seen day in and day out for six years, it was like, if I can be around them — great. And then also, for me, it’s satisfying to be able to continue that. Say, ‘Hey, we’re a group. We’ve been doing this successfully for as long as we have been, let me see if I can do that.’ It was a surprising thing for some of the crew. They were like, ‘Wow,’ on day one of the pilot, ‘You got us all back together.’ I said, ‘Yeah, of course, I did. I said I would.'” 

“It was important for me to understand what would make the crew the happiest,” he added. “And listen, I mean, some people live in different pockets of Los Angeles and others you want to do what you can, but at the same time, I think everybody was already very settled and very happy with where we film in Hollywood at Paramount, and it just made the most sense.”

“I’m in a very fortunate position to be able to make some decisions that benefit a larger group, and I think for me, I’ve always been a man who wants to open the door,” Ventimiglia said. “I may be the first one through, but I’m going to hold it open and let everybody else in.”

Logline episode 1:

A night of passion leads to love between con-man Charlie and undercover CIA officer Emma, who are unknowingly on a collision course professionally.

Are you excited to see Milo Ventimiglia in The Company You Keep?

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Source: TVLine / SPOILER TV

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