We all come from humble beginnings. For Milo Ventimiglia, his journey began as Party Guest #1 on Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
This microscopic role is one of the many milestones in Ventimiglia’s career that he discusses in his interview with Frank Chlumsky for Interview magazine. The This Is Us actor says that he learned an invaluable lesson in character from Will Smith due to his first credited role in television. “[Smith] was coming off of Men in Black, and was already signed up for Men in Black II. He was not just a TV star; he was a movie star already,” recalls Ventimiglia. “He knew everyone’s name and was inclusive of everyone and the crew. For me, being that that was my first job, I just watched and soaked up as much as I could. It impacted me and how I am around my sets and my crews. Will Smith is a good man. So I just try to be a good man.”
In addition to starring in This Is Us, Ventimiglia recently returned to Stars Hollow to work on the Gilmore Girls revival to reprise his role as Jess Mariano, Rory Gilmore’s troubled love interest in the original series. He tells Interview that he cleared his schedule when he received the call from Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino that confirmed that the project was happening.
“I let my team of guys know, ‘I’m going back to do this, so whatever I’m working on, let’s just work out the time to do this.’ It wasn’t a decision really based on creativity—like I had a need to play Jess Mariano again—so much as it was exciting to me to be able to speak Amy and Dan’s words again, because I think they’re genius and they’re personal friends. For me it was just another opportunity to get to work with people that I admire, respect, and really love.”
Though he says that it was “pretty easy” to get back into the groove with the Gilmore Girls cast, there was one skill that he needed to brush up on before feeling entirely comfortable on the show. “The only thing you really need to know is: in the Gilmore world, just talk really, really, really fast. And when you think you’ve gone fast enough, just go a bit faster,” he says.
As for his nude scene in the pilot for This Is Us, Ventimiglia says that it was unclear in his reading of the script as to whether the show’s viewers would see his face or his tush first.
“I knew that I was going to be bare-bottomed, but I didn’t know that my ass would precede my face. I honestly didn’t know. It was one of those things: ‘Jack is in his birthday suit,'” he recalls. “That was actually moment one of filming the show, too. It was the first part of the day on the first day. So it was meeting the crew, ‘Hey, how are you, nice to meet you’ and then all of the sudden bare-assed.”