Milo Ventimiglia is back on TV, but not the traditional kind of week to week TV. His new series, “Chosen,” is on Crackle, and the entire six episode run is available now.
In "Chosen," Ventimiglia plays Ian Mitchell, a regular guy who receives a box with a gun and a photo of his intended target. Ventimiglia has also been busy in the film world, and we got to speak with him by phone just as he was getting back to the States .
Milo Ventimiglia: Hey Fred, how you doing, brotha?
CraveOnline: Good, thanks. How are you?
Milo Ventimiglia: I’m doing great, man. I’m doing great. I’m just bouncing around, man, happy to be back in the United States and wrapping my head around just the ton of s*** that you come home to when you’ve been out of town for like three months.
CraveOnline: I know. Where were you, shooting the Princess Grace movie?
Milo Ventimiglia: Yeah, I was in Bulgaria doing some pickup shots on this DeNiro/Travolta film called Killing Season. And then I went straight from that to Grace of Monaco and we were in the south of France, we were north of Italy, we were in Monaco, Paris, Antwerpen, Brussels, just everywhere.
CraveOnline: So was “Chosen” a nice chance to play an older character who has a family?
Milo Ventimiglia: Yeah, there were several factors for taking “Chosen.” For me, I work in the digital space with my production company. I knew the guys at Crackle. I’m a huge fan of [writer/director] Ben Ketai. We developed some stuff together. It was a great script but you’re right, there was this opportunity to play a guy closer to my own age.
I get it, I understand people are like, “Wow, you don’t look 35.” Well, guess what? I am 35. I am at that age where I could have a seven-year-old daughter and a career in a suit and tie, and then have this crazy, unexpected thing happen in my life. So every role that I take, “Chosen” being one of them, I always try and switch it up and choose for the reason of playing different characters and being a bit of a chameleon and falling into a character maybe that people may not have thought of me as, a father who’s fighting to save his daughter. But at the same time, they’re not saying, “Wow, it’s impossible for you to play something like that.”
CraveOnline: Since it’s on Crackle, how would you prefer people to watch “Chosen:” Week to week, or all at once?
Milo Ventimiglia: Ah, no, man, binge watch. Watch ‘em all at once. Actually, my close friends that I tell, “Hey, go check this show out.” They’re like, “Oh yeah, we’ll watch it.” I’ll get a text message, an e-mail, a phone call saying, “Dude, I sat down to watch one. I’m on episode five. I can’t wait to finish it off.”
I’ve completely ruined people’s afternoons, lunch breaks, all that because they just can’t stop watching. I think it was a very smart thing of Crackle to do, to offer it all right away. I know that when I sit down to watch an episode of “Sons of Anarchy,” I’m going to wait until there’s like five shows backed up on my DVR or on my iTunes or Xbox or something so that I can just watch them all together. It’s the way of ingesting content nowadays. How do you watch it?
CraveOnline: You know what? I’m a week to week kind of guy. I need it in weekly doses. I can’t do it all at once.
Milo Ventimiglia: But there are so many shows. That was always my biggest problem. There are so many shows I want to watch and if I could just dedicate like two solid weeks, a couple times during a week or a night to one season of one show, then boom, move onto the next. You’re old school.
CraveOnline: Well, that’s why. There are so many shows, it helps me keep up if I don’t have to do them all at once.
Milo Ventimiglia: Yeah, good point, good point.
CraveOnline: We know TV always goes really fast and you must’ve had an intense experience on “Heroes.” How much faster does production have to go for Crackle?
Milo Ventimiglia: We ran it like a TV show. We didn’t shoot it in order. We understood we had five weeks to pump out six episodes. In a way, usually in traditional television you’re breaking up your episode by days. You may shoot one episode in six to eight days. We factored it all together and said, “Let’s consider it almost like we’re making a bit of a movie and shoot it all together. That way we can wrangle our locations and put things together. Let’s just do it that way.”
That’s ultimately what we did. So I think the pace of it, knowing that we had a pretty short amount of time to get a good amount of story out there, we didn’t skimp on time spent, but also we were moving pretty quick. That also made everybody on the creative side, we all had to be on point. Me, being there every day, almost every scene, I think about three weeks in I finally hit a stride where I’m like, “Oh wait, I can just sit behind a monitor for one shot? This is amazing. This is a great. This is like a half day at school.”
The workload was pretty big but I thought everybody really held the integrity of the creative and the composure of working long hours, working long days, me personally a very physical role really well. We had a great team.
CraveOnline: And unlike the usual TV series, you got to read the entire script? You weren’t waiting from week to week?
Milo Ventimiglia: No, no, and that was also the benefit of having the writer be the director. Ben is right there on set. If there was something that I read and I’m like, “You know what, Ben? This is amazing on paper, but as I’m saying it, the words aren’t quite coming out the way I know you intended it so let’s work on this real quick.” And boom, he was there for ideas. He was there to make quick changes collaboratively, myself, Ben and the other actors. We made it work.
CraveOnline: How did the level of action compare to other shows and movies you’ve done?
Milo Ventimiglia: On the first day of production of “Chosen” I actually broke my nose. I can’t say that’s ever happened on a set before. I’ve definitely had some bumps and bruises but I definitely broke my nose on day one, which kind of scared the s*** out of everybody.
It’s what you sign up to do. I understand the role was physical. I knew I was going to be taking some hits from Noel G. and I knew that I was going to be getting thrown around and running and wrestling and getting hit with everything and getting choked out by a bag and a girl, which in some ways is kind of hot, but it was demanding.
At the very end of it, when all was said and done, I was like, “Cool, now I can rest and recoup a minute before getting ready for my next gig.” It had zero action in it at all which was incredibly enticing. Oh, I get to play a 1960s press agent for Grace Kelly? Oh yeah. I’m sitting behind a desk a lot just walking around giving sound, sane advice to a movie star who’s turned princess? Sure, let’s do it, I’m in.
CraveOnline: You were part of several shows with very active fan followings. What feedback have you gotten from Crackle fans and people who have seen “Chosen” so far?
Milo Ventimiglia: Everything so far has been positive. Maybe I just haven’t been exposed to people that aren’t liking it but everybody’s been really positive about it. The first thing that people talk about is “I can’t believe the production value of a ‘web series.’” Quote unquote “web series,” even made for the web the production value holds up to any show on pay cable to network television.
The production value people are really impressed with and then this original story. People are like, “Wow, this is something that could happen.” Then even people are very, very kind, they’re like, “Wow, Milo, I actually believe you. I wasn’t watching you. I was watching Ian Mitchell go through something.” Everything’s been positive so far. I’m kind of excited to find the bad press on it just so I can talk to those folks and see what we can do better next time.
CraveOnline: Not looking for bad press, but just comparing how people reach out for Crackle vs. “Heroes.”
Milo Ventimiglia: You’d be surprised. Right now on my Twitter feed, I would get a few marriage proposals, a handful of people talking about how much they miss “Heroes,” but a majority of the people that are on there talking about “Chosen,” which for me is very satisfying when it’s something that is current in my workspace is being taken in by fans and viewers and guys and gals that are watching everything and they’re really enjoying it. It’s really, really satisfying to me.
CraveOnline: I know people paid a lot of attention to your hair on “Gilmore Girls” and “Heroes.” How big a decision was Ian Mitchell’s hair on “Chosen?”
Milo Ventimiglia: [Laughs] Actually, you’ll laugh about this one. So I think about two weeks, maybe a week and a half before we started, I was coming off of Grown Ups 2 with Adam Sandler and Sandler had asked me if I would go blonde for Grown Ups 2. He was like, “You’ve got this beautiful head of black hair. Do you want to dye it? Do you want to wear a wig?”
And the crazy actor that I am, I’m like, f*** it, let me dye it, or bleach it. So I had a blonde skunk stripe for about three months with Sandler. Then following that up immediately I was going back to “Chosen.” So I had to go back to brown and I kind of had this mohawk with Sandler, so luckily I had a couple weeks to grow the sides out and dye my hair back and what was left on the screen for “Chosen” was just maintaining what I had to get myself out of for working on Grown Ups 2 with my blonde mohawk.
Milo Ventimiglia: Yeah, I know, I know. People don’t think about that, but each character has a distinct look and the way they talk and the way they walk and their feel. Down to the way that people wear their hair which some viewers can obsess on.
CraveOnline: You must have done some gun work before, but obviously Ian is not supposed to know how to use a gun. What was your take on that?
Milo Ventimiglia: I loved it. I thought that was such a wise move on Ben’s part when he was writing the script because here’s a guy who holds a pen and wears a suit and tie to work. He doesn’t know a thing about guns. So to play a guy who is just a normal human being, a normal man and the confusion and the fright of holding a weapon or holding something, being punched in the face and never having that sting behind your nose or tasting your own blood.
I love that about the character. I love that he had to discover these things. I love that he had to learn to survive these really horrible circumstances that were coming his way. It humanized him way more and I thought made him incredibly more relative to just people watching this. I think it’s a trap. Sometimes actors, not sometimes, a majority of the time actors always want to look cool. We all want to look cool so it’s like sometimes it’s better to be the guy that doesn’t know what he’s doing. It’s a fun and very, very intelligent, I think, character choice.
CraveOnline: After doing “Chosen,” were you ready to get back into movies?
Milo Ventimiglia: Yeah, and that’s exactly what I did. Like I said, I’d gone from Grown Ups 2 with Sandler to “Chosen” and then following that immediately, I was on Grace of Monaco with Nicole Kidman and Tim Roth, Parker Posey, Frank Langella, a whole slew of amazing European actors as well. I take each job individually and enjoy everything that I’m doing and just try and keep my head down and work, do interesting stuff with great people.
CraveOnline: Was Rupert Allan a real person?
Milo Ventimiglia: He was, yeah. He was Grace Kelly’s press agent. He originally was the west coast editor of Look magazine and he had done an interview with Marilyn Monroe and the two of them got along so much that she had asked him to become her press agent.
So that kind of brought him into the world of press agent where he ultimately became Grace Kelly’s press agent and ultimately as they got a little older in life, he ended up working with the Grimaldis in Monaco. Like living in Monaco and being more invested in the state of Monaco and falling out of the world of Hollywood.
CraveOnline: Was he really important to what we knew about Grace and how we perceived her?
Milo Ventimiglia: I think if you look at Grace Kelly and, let’s say, stars of the day, no doubt there’s talent but there’s also a manufacturing of perception. Who creates that or how it’s executed, a lot of times in detail, that even happens today. You’ve got to come up with an image. You’ve got to come up with the places you’re going to go to, the places you’re going to be seen, the people you’re working with. It’s all very calculated nowadays as it was back then.
Rupert Allen was a man who was a part of that for Grace and he is a part of Grace’s world. He’s the guy who is giving suggestions because he understands how she wants to be viewed, first as an actress, but then as a princess. Then quietly, just like standing in the background. He’s not doing it for any notoriety. He’s doing it for his client. He’s doing it for his friendship with Grace and the two of them ultimately were very close. He was one of the people that was instrumental, as I understand it in the research that I did, in introducing her to Prince Rainier. He helped facilitate that.
CraveOnline: And beside the hair, what crazy stuff did Adam Sandler have you doing in Grown Ups 2?
Milo Ventimiglia: Basically be a jackass yet again. Two summers in a row now, I’ve been in the fun sandbox with Sandler and he’s had me just be a complete dumbass.
Last year with That’s My Boy, that bulked up wannabe marine who was a total idiot having sex with his sister, and then this year I was a college fraternity boy who got into a fistfight with all the grown ups: Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock and David Spade. Just more goofy antics but those projects are such fun to be on. They’re good for the soul.