‘FBI’ Star Jeremy Sisto on Jubal’s Jaunt to Italy in Crossover Event: ‘He Really Feels Motivated to Play This Right’

The actor also tells TheWrap he wants Rocco Sisto to play his grandfather in the CBS series

Jeremy Sisto in "FBI: International"
Jeremy Sisto in "FBI: International" ( Philippe Antonello/ CBS)

A kidnapping in Rome sets off events that have all three “FBI” teams banding together in a three-hour event on Tuesday, April 4. Jeremy Sisto’s character, special agent Jubal Valentine, jets from the New York Field office to Italy to help out “FBI: International” star Scott Forrester, who’s played by Luke Kleintank. Meanwhile, Stuart Scola (John Boyd) goes undercover and teams up with Remy Scott (Dylan McDermott) of “FBI: Most Wanted” to stop a mass-casualty terror attack in New York City.

Ahead of the episode, Sisto told TheWrap what to expect from Jubal being a “fish out of water” overseas without his usual team around him, his theory on why his character speaks Italian, and which actor he’d like to play Jubal’s Italian grandfather should a future storyline require it.

The crossover starts with “FBI: International,” then segues back to “FBI,” finishing with the Fugitive Task Force on “FBI: Most Wanted.” It’s written by “FBI” showrunner Rick Eid and Sisto describes it as “a really well-crafted story that is emotional and dynamic.”

(L-R): Luke Kleintank as Special Agent Scott Forrester, Jeremy Sisto as Assistant Special Agent in Charge Jubal Valentine, Carter Redwood as Special Agent Andre Raines, and Heida Reed as Special Agent Jamie Kellett. (Stefano Montesi/CBS)

TheWrap: We get to see Jubal out in the field in this episode, how does that play out?
Jeremy Sisto: Jubal gets to do some stuff that you don’t usually get to see him do. He’s in Rome, so when you’re chasing bad guys, he’s chasing them over cobblestone streets and 1000-year-old tunnels and over ruins. He’s using weapons we’ve never seen him use before. It’s a pretty exciting world to throw Jubal into. He’s definitely a fish out of water. But, he’s not afraid to push the boundaries. Because of his recent challenges [including relapsing after several years’ sobriety earlier this season], he really feels motivated to play this right to be a great leader in this situation.

How well does he work with Forrester and the international office?
Jubal is used to having 50 people around him who are there solely to help him connect the dots and get ahead of the criminals and suddenly he’s in a different country where he doesn’t have the same level of access. Fortunately, Forrester and his team are a bit more accustomed to it. But there’s definitely some arm wrestling that goes on to try to figure out how far they can push those boundaries to do their job. It really shows how the FBI works, how this intricate web of people are assessing threats throughout the world. They’re protecting American lives. And a lot of those threats start overseas. That’s why we have an international team and so to connect that team to the New York office, to me, was totally right.

Nina (Shantel VanSanten) also goes to Rome on this case. What’s that dynamic like?
That’s an interesting storyline since she’s pregnant with Scola’s child. It’s kind of similar to Maggie (Missy Peregrym) and OA (Zeeko Zaki) when she came back after being exposed to nerve gas. How can you care about somebody’s safety while also respecting that their job is to be in danger? That they put themselves in danger willingly and you can’t demand that they are overly cautious?

Does Jubal speak any Italian?
He did, and it was kind of on the fly and I was hoping the higher-ups wouldn’t hate me for it. But it just felt right. I thought it was cool that Jubal spoke a little Italian in specific situations.

What’s your theory on how Jubal knows Italian?
He is much smarter than me. I think he picked up one of those apps on the way over to play on the long plane ride. I think he studied it. I’ve got Italian heritage, so I feel that Jubal could as well, given that we share the same body (Laughs). I feel like he’s got some Italian in him. Somewhere in his family is an Italian relative and he learned it through spending time with that person. But I try not to go too deep into the backstory. I tried to give them little hints and then, who knows? Maybe there’s an episode with an old Italian man and suddenly I have a cool Italian grandfather.

Since we’re off on this tangent, who would you cast as Jubal’s grandfather?
Rocco Sisto. He’s a great actor. He did “Donnie Brasco” with Al Pacino and Johnny Depp. And actually I worked with him briefly on… I don’t remember what. But he gave me all this stuff about our Sisto family and he should definitely play my grandfather.

Are you actually related to him?
Well, we don’t think so. But there’s a lot of Sistos in southern Italy. Perhaps distant cousins. He is the only other Sisto I know of in the industry.

Did you watch Season 2 of “The White Lotus?” Did you relate to the Italian Americans trying to find their ancestors?
I did. I have been to Bari, where my family’s from. I played Jesus in a [1999] miniseries that was partially funded through Italian production and so the Roman Catholic Church was involved. I got to meet the Pope and the mayor and we shook hands and walked around the city. I’ve been there a few times. When I’m around Italian people, they feel like family.

The three-hour crossover event, “Imminent Threat,” airs Tuesday, April 4 from 8:00-11:00 p.m. ET/PT) on CBS and is available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+.