Television watchers will most likely recognize Goran Visnjic as Dr. Luka Kovac on the long-running medical staple ER. Now, the actor is taking a trip to the past and stepping into the jet-set world of Pan Am.
[Warning: Some spoilers up ahead.]
In the 1960s-set ABC drama, Visnjic plays Niko, a Yugoslavian diplomat from the United Nations who meets Pan Am stewardess/CIA spy Kate (Kelli Garner) on a flight from New York. The actor, who has appeared on Leverage and the indie Beginners since hanging up the doctor's coat in 2008, told The Hollywood Reporter that the four-episode stint on Pan Am was an easy decision to make -- partially because the people behind it worked on ER.
"[Creator] Jack Orman, Lydia Woodward used to write for ER," he said. "Lydia Woodward actually wrote my first episode of ER, so I knew they were awesome writers." (Woodward wrote Sunday's "One Coin in the Fountain," which marks Visnjic's first appearance on the show.)
Visnjic added, "They've actually been very open about creating this character. We've been discussing a lot about politics of the '60s. The most attractive thing about it for me is that they didn't make him black and white."
The Yugoslavian-born actor relished in the idea of playing someone who wasn't so easy to pin down -- and who didn't know the whole picture.
"In the beginning, Niko is part of Kate's CIA assignment, but once she's done with that, she continues to have a romance with this guy and they end up involved," Visnjic said. "Through the course of a couple episodes, we figure out that it wasn't so simple as she thought, that he might be part of the bigger assignment wasn't aware of in the beginning. Things really get complicated and it's a sad ending."
What's most intriguing about Niko is the fact that he has no knowledge of Kate's double life, but during that time, it made sense for the government to employ traveled stewardesses. "You really figure out that they're both played by much bigger forces in the global politics of that time," he said.
Though Visnjic never flew on Pan Am, it was his introduction to the jet age. "I believe my first 747 I ever saw was with the Pan Am logo on it, so it's a big part of the 20th century history," he recalled.
Pan Am airs on Sundays at 10 p.m. on ABC.