Entertainment Weekend:Ventimiglia goes from beloved TV dad to debonair grifter

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Milo Ventimiglia was looking to change things up after six seasons on NBC’s “This is Us” — both physically and professionally.

He found that opportunity with the upcoming ABC series “ The Company You Keep,” a high-stakes romance story that’s a remake of a Korean drama, “My Fellow Citizens.”

Ventimiglia plays Charlie, a successful and stylish con artist who needs to pay off a large debt to a dangerous man. He meets a CIA agent named Emma (Catherine Haena Kim). Each tries to keep their identity from the other while their entanglement grows as they face external dangers because of their jobs.

Speaking to journalists Wednesday at a biannual event for TV critics, Ventimiglia said it was nice to play someone closer to himself, living in the present day — where he could lose Jack Pearson’s facial hair and clothes. He relished the opportunity to shave and not “pull my pants up a little higher because it’s the ’80s.”

“I couldn’t just put on a character anymore. I just had to do this and just be myself,” he said.

He hasn’t completely left “This is Us” behind, though: Ventimiglia, who is also an executive producer on the series, said he brought roughly “90% of the ‘This is Us’ crew” to work on “The Company You Keep.”

The series is also executive produced by Jon M. Chu. It premieres Feb. 19 at 10 p.m. ET.