‘The Company You Keep’: Milo Ventimiglia Explains His Pivot From TV Dad to Con Man

After six years of heartstring-pulling as This Is Us’ beloved (but tragic) patriarch Jack Pearson, Milo Ventimiglia could have chosen to take a nice break from working. Instead, he did the exact opposite in The Company You Keep.

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

Tempted to take on multiple projects in development at his DiVide Pictures, he was most drawn to the role of The Company You Keep’s Charlie Nicoletti, a skilled con artist working with his grifter family but looking to go straight.

“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.”

Here, the actor tells us more.

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.

The Company You Keep, Series Premiere Sunday, February 19, 10/9c, ABC

This is an excerpt from TV Guide Magazine’s 2023 Preview issue. For more inside scoop on what’s coming to TV and streaming in the new year, pick up the issue, on newsstands now.