Earlier this month, Ivan Sergei — whom you probably remember as the Jill in Jack & Jill — returned to WB via Charmed (Sundays at 8 pm/ET), playing Henry, a lawman oblivious to the ladies' witchy ways. Here's what the actor had to share with TVGuide.com about his charmed existence, the one role he let slip away and his flirtation with danger.
TVGuide.com: For the uninitiated, how would you describe your Charmed role?
Ivan Sergei: I'm playing Henry, a parole officer. In my first episode, one of my parolees is destined for future greatness, but he's not really showing it to me, so I need Rose McGowan's Paige character to come along and show me the way. In the process, we start a budding little romance.
TVGuide.com: Are you being groomed to fill the void left when Brian Krause exits as Leo?
Sergei: Well, as of now, Henry is not aware of any witchcraft or anything like that, which has been kind of fun.
TVGuide.com: You're Darren Stevens with a badge!
Sergei: That's true.
TVGuide.com: How long does Charmed have you for?
Sergei: The rest of the season.
TVGuide.com: How is the "colorful" Rose McGowan as a leading lady?
Sergei: She's absolutely great. I'm not really one who reads the magazines or anything, so I didn't know anything about her. When I came on, people said, "Rose is a strong person." I kind of like that, actually, so it's been all gravy for me.
TVGuide.com: When I interviewed Justin Kirk about Weeds, we were talking about how all of you Jack & Jillers seem to be doing well for yourselves.
Sergei: I think so. Not as well as Amanda [Peet], as of yet, but yeah, everybody's working. Jaime [Pressly] is doing well, as [My Name Is] Earl goes strong....
TVGuide.com: How was Jack & Jill as a work experience?
Sergei: It was a little up-and-down — our show runner left after one year — but it was a great experience. For me, just to be a title character on a show that's on the air for two years was wonderful. I previously had done John Woo's Once a Thief, which was a Canadian show, so this was a great opportunity. I actually got offered the part and got to sit in on most of the auditions and have a bit of say, in particular with Justin's character [Barto] coming in. I think we had replaced Amelia Heinle (The Young and the Restless) as the original Jack, so I had a little say in bringing Amanda in.
TVGuide.com: Amelia and Amanda are, like, "separated at birth," looks-wise.
Sergei: Yeah, but they couldn't be more different in personality, and I think that was a different direction the show wanted to go with.
TVGuide.com: How was your gig as a Crossing Jordan doc?
Sergei: You know, I'm very happy on Charmed, but I really wish I had stayed on Crossing Jordan. I took a chance to go do Hawaii, where I was the No. 2 guy on that show and it was a Hawaii-based cop show. I actually asked the people at Crossing Jordan, where I was No. 9 on the call sheet, to release me from my contract.
TVGuide.com: The math seemed simple enough.
Sergei: The math looked simple and the location was simple [Laughs] but Crossing Jordan has some great producers and a great show runner. It's the same feeling I have on Charmed — a well-run, friendly set.
TVGuide.com: On Jordan, did you overlap with Jennifer Finnigan (now star of Close to Home)?
Sergei: Yeah, absolutely. That was the whole time Jill [Hennessy] was pregnant, so they were bringing in new people to do new things with the show. I think that helped it keep going at a time when their lead character wasn't around for half the season.
TVGuide.com: In a way, Finnigan arrived at the same crossroads as you, leaving Jordan to headline the sitcom Committed.
Sergei: Yeah, but she was only recurring, whereas I had a six-year contract. She knew she was going to be moving onto another show, having come off [three Daytime] Emmys [wins] and doing so well in daytime.... She's really talented and obviously [Close to Home producer] Jerry Bruckheimer is the best in the business. He started my career, so I have nothing but fondness for him. My first film was Dangerous Minds, which you wouldn't expect to go make $100 million necessarily, but put it in the hands of someone like him and he turned it into gold.
TVGuide.com: You costarred with Tori Spelling in the TV-movie Mother, May I Sleep with Danger....
Sergei: Which airs all... the... time. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: I take it you were "danger"?
Sergei: I was "danger," yes. Tough role to play. If I had a chance to do it again, I'd probably play it differently; I feel like I overacted a bit. But those are the chances you take when you take a psychotic role. I mean, what do you really draw from? [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: Leave us with a tease of what's coming up on Charmed.
Sergei: They don't really tell me too much. I know that I am going to find out that Paige is a witch. I think it's going to be a fun kind of episode where I'm having a bad week, so she tells the fairies to stop stealing my keys and tells the leprechauns to help me out a bit, so I, like, win the lottery and stuff like that. I think they're going to have some fun with it, and I'm looking forward to it. I'm having a great time.