RT Interview: Milo Ventimiglia Gets Dark in Pathology, Talks Role In Neveldine & Taylor's Game
The Heroes star on his decidedly dark thriller.
MV: I spent a lot of time at the coroner's office. Watched nineteen autopsies, saw a couple hundred dead bodies -- I mean, anything from a five month-old baby to an 88-year-old man who was stabbed with a screwdriver.
That seems like a very extreme kind of preparation for you to do. Most actors just have to do a ride-along or something...
MV: It was important for me to, because there are two sides to Ted. There's the loving, fiancÚ side with Alyssa Milano's character, and then there's the medical doctor, who has to act without emotion. And I think it was important to me to see how these people, these coroners and technicians, do function in their jobs. When Mark and Brian said, "Do you want to go to the coroner's office," I was like, "F*** yeah, let's go." I've always had a fascination with medicine; I wanted to be a doctor at one point, when I was 18. Anything medical just fascinates me. So to have that opportunity, to have a reason to go in -- not as a parlor trick, but to actually go in there and study what people are doing -- was huge for me.
MV: No, I wouldn't. Not to look down on those movies, because they are what they are...I haven't seen many, but I've seen enough to know what they are and what they thrive on, and then also what Pathology is. Pathology is a more cerebral approach; it's not sitting around and hacking people up for the sake of hacking people up and showing the most disgusting of kills. It's kind of clever; it's the psychology behind it. That's what I meant about having a subject matter that anyone could fuck up. Mark and Brian did it right, and God bless Marc Schoelermann, the director, who really put what was on the page onto the screen. So we're definitely not in the [torture-porn] style, but I think the people that want to see some blood, want to see something clever, they're going to be turned on by Pathology.
It's been a few years since you were on Gilmore Girls; how old do you think your fanbase is? Mature enough to see this movie?
MV: [Laughs.] If you really look back, let's just say, at the fans who maybe stuck with me since Gilmore Girls, they were probably teenagers back then, and that was almost six years ago...so they're probably kids in their early 20s.
Well, Pathology will be quite a change for fans who've followed your career. Do you see Peter Petrelli from Heroes as the latest in a long line of "good guy" roles, with Ted Grey at the opposite side of the spectrum?
MV: I think people forget that actors are actors, who are looking to put on the clothes and the character, and then shed it just as easily. Peter's a character that I play; having been to the darker side with Ted Grey doesn't mean that I'm going to change my perspective on Peter. I think he's a great character; where he's at, there are even things to explore with him. And any other kind of role through the course of my career, however long or short it is, I try to make every character as different as possible. That being said, I do know my limits; I know what I'm capable of and I know that I can't get away from who I am. And I think that if a part is difficult for me to fall into, for whatever reason, I'm not going to waste my time or anybody else's time that would possibly want me in a project of theirs.
Have you felt that way already in your career?
MV: Oh yeah, absolutely. There are roles that I've passed on, and they've even come back to me. Where I read the script, and I looked at it, and I thought, you know, I would be playing dress up if I played this part the way it's written. And I've passed on projects. And funny enough, there have been movies and projects that I passed on because of that reason, and they've come back to me and said, what if we rewrote it? What if we retooled it? What if we made it fit more with who you are? I said, you can do that, but I'm not holding you to it. I wouldn't want to waste your time. I think a lot of actors have that desperate want to be picked, and that want to just work and work and work. I think I've gotten to a place where I can say, I don't want to waste anyone's time by playing this role. Thank you, but no thank you.
You directed the It's a Mall World webisodes for MTV. Is directing something we'll see more from you in the near future?
MV: In the near future, I'm not so sure, but absolutely. I'm kind of nervous in front of the camera as an actor; I think I'm better behind the camera, dealing with the business, and the creative of putting a project together. I really like it a lot; it's a different study than acting. You have to be able to speak actor, and speak crew, speak producer, and have a vision and put it all together. It's something I definitely would love to do more of. The tough part is that every time I line up for a directing job, I get an acting job -- and I've got to go do that! It seems like the acting jobs are there. If they're good ones you want to be a part of, you kind of have to do them -- you owe it to yourself. Directing is something that, God forbid I get into an accident and can't move for the rest of my life, I can still show up on a set and tell people what to do.
Are you the kind of person who reads your own movie reviews?
MV: I read everything. I read good, I read bad, I read everything that people write whether it's about me, about the film, about my co-stars...about other films, about other actors, about anything. I read a lot. Every day, I read a lot. But I don't really subscribe to what people say, good or bad, because then it just becomes an exercise in futility and you can really get hung up on things. At the end of the day it's just not worth it. I kind of see it as...if somebody wants to call me a piece of s***, thank you. If somebody wants to say I'm great, thank you. I look at it all the same and try to stand in the middle of it, and try not to err one way or the other.
Pathology was originally supposed to get released last November; why is it coming out only now?
MV: You know what, the business side I really can't speak about. I think there were a lot of movies in that time, it was a competitive slot. The push to February happened, and then the push to April happened...I know a bit about it, but I don't think I'd like to comment on it.
Then that means you guys filmed this a long time ago, right?
MV: [Laughs.] Yeah, it was...I finished the first season of Heroes, directed Mall World three days after I finished for two weeks, and then the weekend after I directed Mall World I went right into Pathology. I didn't have a break. And then, I finished the movie and three days later I went back to work on the show.
Wow...you're a workaholic, eh?
MV: Totally, totally. Then I finished the second season and all of a sudden was like, you know what, I think I'll just jump onto these three movies, how's that?
Pathology opens in select cities Friday, April 18. Check out an exclusive behind-the-scenes featurette here and watch for Milo Ventimiglia's return to TV on the long-awaited third season of Heroes this fall.