Blood & Treasure's Antonio Cupo on Playing a Bad Boy on Lifetime's To Have and to Hold & More

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On Saturday, June 22, Lifetime will premiere the second of the book-to-screen Jane Green trilogy, To Have and to Hold.

Erika Christensen stars as a budding chef who tosses her career aside for a romantic love that promises a future of joy and family. With her two best friends concerned she's making the right decision, she plunges head first into her new life with husband, Joe, at her side. 

Antonio Cupo plays Joe, the man for whom Alice risks everything. If you guess she's going to be disappointed, you aren't far off. Find out what Cupo has to say about his role in the film and a few nuggets about Blood & Treasure, too.

The Unhappy Couple

What do you enjoy the most about doing movies for television?

I would probably say for me, it's ... I've always been involved in acting, theater, and such, and just being able to do that for work. I mean, I'm continually thankful and gracious of the kind of work I've been handed.

It's amazing to slip into the shoes of another character, human being. You have this artistic license to do things that you normally wouldn't do that are handed to you, so for someone like me, my life is so, so ridiculously boring, I feel, in regular life. And then there are these times where I get to play these incredible characters that have a lot more excitement in them for one reason or the other.

And actually, that's the best thing about it. I mean, number one, being able to create every day, and number two, being able to step into the shoes of somebody else.

Joe On Bended Knee

And if given the opportunity, what parts do you prefer, the romantic hero type or the more troubled guy?

Well, I mean, I think the one that I like to play most often are the troubled bad boys. However, I've played a number of times Prince Charming, so to speak, and those roles, they usually have the best outcome with regard to how I am regarded as a person.

More often than not, my mother will get a call from one of her friends saying, "Your son, I don't know about him. I saw him on TV, and he got a girl pregnant." And it's like [groans] you got to explain it again, "Look, TV is not real life. It's a movie."

But that's actually the goal I suppose. The goal is like if people believe it enough that they will like or dislike you in regular life. I think that's really when you've done your job.

Going In for a Kiss

Tell me a little bit about your character, Joe, in To Have and to Hold; explain him in your words.

Yeah, so Joe is ... he's a troubled soul. Joe is ... I think that he's one of these guys, where he's continually happy with the successes of his work and wants to achieve this idyllic home life.

So it's a classic story, the rich dude who wants to marry the girl who he sees nurturing a potential family one day or barefoot cooking in the kitchen, so to speak. I think Joe is just that chauvinistic kind of dude, and we see this in the character. It's interesting, because when I saw the cut, the first edit, I was like, "Wow, okay."

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There's one time Joe holds onto Alice in the kitchen just for a couple of seconds longer as she's in there cooking, and that explains a lot about Joe. That's where he sees a woman.

So it's classic chauvinistic kind of thing that we're trying to shake in these modern times, but he holds onto this idea, which is why I feel like he can get away with a lot more. And that's what the story's about.

When does Joe stop? How much is too much? Where are the true boundaries? And him going through this process of loving this girl, but also holding her at an arm's distance while he has his fun.

Cupping Her Face

Joe, we know, is more of a city guy. What kind of a guy are you, country, or city?

I have always been in and around the city. However, where I find my peace, and where I like to retreat to is the country. When I was growing up, I spent a lot of time in the country around animals.

Although work and family continually brought me back to the city, I recharge my batteries in the country. So that may not answer your question 100%. Where I feel my heart is fullest is when I'm breathing that country air.

How deeply involved do you get in your roles when you're actually right there in the midst of them? Do you ever take it home with? Do you have the ability just to do it and walk away, or are you like your mother's friends think, and you maybe embody them a little too much?

I think the success of the actor is being able to leave the character on set, in that you may enter into a character, and you may feel the various parts of that character, and relish and enjoy moments of that character, but your success is being able to unplug and pick that back up again.

You certainly don't want to take a character like Joe home with you if you don't have to.

Going In for a Kiss

What advice would you give to Joe if you could?

(silence) I would probably say, "The grass isn't always greener." And I would probably say, "It's not worth the hassle."

Sometimes understanding what you have ... Actually, most of the time, understanding what you have and being able to accept that, and respect that, and understand that's the reason why you're in that position, or because you had your reasoning at that point, and sometimes things change, life changes. But that doesn't mean that you can't live and grow with the people that are around you.

They can grow with you.

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That's good. Also, this weekend, fans are going to get a double dose of Antonia with your other role on Blood and Treasure. Can we talk about that for a couple of minutes?

Yeah, absolutely.

Antonio Cupo Smiles Lightly

So, we know that Bruno is harboring a bit of a secret from his co-workers, and he's part of secret brotherhood. How much more information are we going to find about that, and how much deeper into his character are we going to go?

I think last week we saw a true glimpse to Fabi's backstory. This week it's going to start unraveling, and you're going to learn a lot about Bruno and a lot about some of the other characters. But I would probably say, over the next three episodes, you're going to get a whole bunch from Fabi.

It's a lot deeper. You're going to learn a lot more about his backstory. We're actually going to go into that, so you're going to see it. You're not only going to hear it.

Oh, good.

So you can expect some great flashback stuff. All those loose ends that I am sure people ... I was sitting with a bunch of people yesterday, and they were saying, "Well, how could this girl break a chair over his back, but then the next scene he talks to her as if he likes her?"

And this is the thing, Fabi, he thinks very highly of Lexi. I would go to say that he, in a certain way, loves Lexi. Not in the kind of way that would create any kind of a love interest or relationship, but I think we're going to see the true love there through their backstory and why they are so deeply connected and why Fabi is so invested in Lexi.

Antonio Cupo Bruno Fabi on Blood & Treasure

Interesting. How fun was it filming that show since you got to go on some locations and with the cast and all that fun stuff?

Oh, Matt Barr, Sophia Pernas, Katia Winter, Michael Shaw ... I mean, it was a real team right from the beginning. I really felt the success of the show on probably day two of shooting when I finally got to meet everyone, and I was like, "Oh, I can easily see this casting process."

Generally speaking, when I can easily see that casting process, I know that everyone is there for a reason, and I feel like everything was done right from the beginning, from where we shot, the locations, how it was written.

Stephen Scaia and Matthew Federman created content for us that was interesting and fun and took us around the world. And it's exactly what it was intended to be. It was intended to be a summer blockbuster that was full of action and crazy turnarounds. Like I said, some of the things that we're going to see are those crazy turnarounds. They're all coming.

Antonio Cupo at Lifetime's Summer Luau

You're a really busy man. Do you ever have a chance to watch television, and if so, what do you watch?

I mean, I'm not a person that watches television, unfortunately. In fact, people that are closest to me always say, "You have to watch some of these films." And I try to watch as many as I can.

I try to keep to cinema, but I have gotten involved in some shows, not so deeply. I tend to gravitate toward cooking shows and Netflix documentaries.

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Yeah, it's good stuff.

Yeah, those are my go-tos. But generally speaking, it's just a way for me to ultimately go to sleep. Because yeah, you're right, I have been very busy over the last couple of years with acting and producing, and it's been an absolute whirlwind.

Handsome Antonio Cupo

I can't wait for everybody to see your backstory on Blood & Treasure, and get a glimpse of Joe and how he could possibly step out on Erika Christensen.

Exactly. How could anybody? Yeah, thank you so much for the interview today. I will confirm with you that working with Erika, no one would ever walk out on her, because she's an absolute angel and someone that's great and fun to work with, an amazing colleague. And that's all you could really ask for.

When you're doing these kinds of roles that are so intimate with people, you just hope that all that love and respect and professionalism and everything else, there's a mutual understanding and respect. And that's exactly what it was.

So it's, I believe, our second film together, and it was a pleasure the first time, and it's a pleasure the second time. Except that in neither time I think that my character actually had ultimate success. Now, I can't say much more, but-

Third time's the charm?

Yeah, maybe third time's the charm. Yeah, we're going to have to have one more go at this. I might have to write something for us.

Antonio Cupo, Kim Raver, and Manu Boyer

Well, you two have really great chemistry, and that makes the movie so much more difficult to watch because if he could just get out of his own way, they would have had the perfect life and relationship.

I know.

And a lot of that is testament to how you and Erika worked together.

Yeah, yeah, I agree, I agree. She's a great friend. And I think that every project that I am involved in, I make really great friends and there's a mutual understanding and respect across the board, but some people obviously stand out, and that's the scenario right here.

So I wish us nothing but the best, a successful showing, and then obviously for Kim [Raver] and Manu [Boyer], nothing but the best for the trilogy. They worked so hard on it. I think Manu was there for every frame of every movie at least in the editing room.

So no one deserves to enjoy those successes more than that team there, Kim and Manu, for sure.

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To Have and to Hold stars Erica Christensen, Antonio Cupo, Andy Favreau, and Carmel Amit.

You can watch Blood & Treasure Tuesdays on CBS, and do not miss To Have and to Hold on Lifetime, Saturday, June 22 at 8/7c. 

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA), enjoys mentoring writers, wine, and passionately discussing the nuances of television. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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