While actor Milo Ventimiglia initially found success by playing brooding, angry teens on primetime television, the actor's off-screen reputation as a well-behaved, focused professional who preferred to stay out of the spotlight secured his success. Ventimiglia spent years as a bit player until his role as Rory Gilmore's troubled teen suitor on "Gilmore Girls" (WB, 2000-07) earned widespread recognition. He subsequently explored ne'er do well teenagers on television shows including "American Dreams" (NBC, 2002-05) and in the final "Rocky" film, "Rocky Balboa" (2006), after which Ventimiglia transitioned to adult roles as the star of NBC's hit drama, "Heroes" (NBC, 2006-10). The actor was ideally cast in the role of a medical caregiver with superpowers, and displayed a blend of brains, inner turmoil, and death-defying heroism that heralded the arrival of a mature and very appealing star.
Born on July 7, 1977 in Anaheim, CA, Ventimiglia was raised in upscale Orange County, where the wrestling team member and class president was also known for his rebellious streak. The aspiring actor spent a summer studying in San Francisco at the American Conservatory Theatre, and during his four years studying literature at the University of California Los Angeles, he began building an acting resume with guest spots on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" (NBC, 1990-96) and "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch" (ABC, 1996-2000; WB, 2000-03) and a starring role in the short film "Must be the Music" (1996), which evolved into "Boys Life 2" (1997), a quartet of homoerotic short films. Following another string of television guest appearances Ventimiglia had small roles in the teen classic "She's All That" (1999), starring Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Rachel Leigh Cook, and the low budget drama "Speedway Junky" (1999). Ventimiglia's first breakthrough came the following summer when he was cast in the leading role of a hormonal 15-year-old boy who is one of three boys in a previously all-girls high school in the short-lived dramedy, "Opposite Sex" (Fox, 2000).
The following year, the 24-year-old put bit parts behind him forever when he landed a career-changing role on the WB's "Gilmore Girls" (2000-07). For playing the authority-scoffing bad boy (and literature enthusiast) Jess Mariano, love interest of the bookish and quick-witted teen daughter of the show's titular mother/daughter duo, Rory(Alexis Bledel), Ventimiglia quickly earned a following among female audiences. He was a regular cast member for the show's second and third seasons, but his appearances dwindled when the network squired him off to develop a Jess-based spin-off series, "Windward Circle," in which the troubled character would try to establish a relationship with his father. When the series order was cancelled, Ventimiglia continued to make recurring appearances on "Gilmore Girls," usually appearing at an inopportune time to try to win back Rory's affections. Meanwhile, the actor enjoyed a recurring appearance on "Boston Public" (FOX, 2000-04) as a cop who goes undercover as a high school troublemaker, and continued to milk his "dangerous" persona with a recurring role as Chris Pierce, a terrible influence on the otherwise well-behaved young ladies of 1960s Philadelphia in "American Dreams" (NBC, 2002-05).
Ventimiglia hit movie theaters again in 2005, first playing a bully in Wes Craven's "Cursed" (2005), which was scripted by WB writer Kevin Williamson and starred fellow WB alumni, Joshua Jackson. The same year, he starred as a high school student tasked with performing impossible pranks in the flop, "Dirty Deeds" (2005). Following one last attempt to appeal to lost love Rory Gilmore on the final season of "Gilmore Girls," Ventimiglia hung around the WB to star in the mid-season replacement series, "Bedford Diaries" (WB, 2006). In the short-lived soapy drama set on the campus of a small liberal arts college, Ventimiglia played a cynical school newspaper editor who threatens to expose an illicit affair between a student and her professor. The same year, the actor was seen on the film festival circuit as the star of "Intelligence" (2006), a fact-based short film about a reporter investigating the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The established television actor finally experienced film success with "Rocky Balboa" (2006), the final installment of the "Rocky" film series, in which he starred as the yuppie only child of Rocky and his late wife, Adrian, who eventually reconciles with his retired boxer father. He returned to television that fall in "Heroes" (NBC, 2006-10), a critical and ratings hit which rocketed the actor to the certified "It" list. Ventimiglia starred as Peter Petrelli, a New York hospice worker who at first discovers that he can fly, then learns that he actually absorbs the superpowers of those around him. The fable-drama about supposedly ordinary people who discover they have supernatural powers survived the cancellation onslaught of 2006 to rise above the competition and become one of the few new shows to be picked up for a second season. The show's popularity was only fueled by the off-screen relationship between Ventimiglia and his young co-star, Hayden Panettiere. Meanwhile, Ventimiglia starred as a competitive forensic pathology student seduced into a game of sex, drugs and murder in the indie thriller "Pathology" (2008). The following year, Ventimiglia re-teamed with that film's writers and producers, Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, for the sci-fi thriller "Gamer" (2009), about a futuristic world where online gamers control real prison inmates who battle for their freedom.
Cast (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Featured in the short film "Must be the Music," playing one of four gay men out on a Friday night in Los Angeles; later compiled into "Boys Life 2" a quartet of homoerotic short films
Played a soccer player in the teen classic "She¿s All That," starring Freddie Prinze, Jr.
Landed lead on the short-lived Fox series "Opposite Sex"
Played a murderer on an episode of "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" (CBS)
Signed on for a spin-off of "Gilmore Girls" entitled "Windward Circle" that never aired
Guest starred on three episodes of drama series "Boston Public" (Fox)
Joined the third and final season of NBC¿s "American Dreams" as Chris Pierce, the rebellious boyfriend of Meg Pryor (Brittany Snow)
Landed a regular role on the mid-season replacement series "The Bedford Diaries" (The WB)
Cast in small role in Wes Craven¿s "Cursed" with Christina Ricci
Directed the original short comedy series "It's a Mall World," made exclusively for American Eagle Outfitters; mini-episodes aired on MTV and shown on the official American Eagle website
Nominated for the 2009 Teen Choice Award for Choice TV Actor: Action Adventure
Joined ensemble cast in action thriller "Armored'
Played a recurring character on the drama series "Chosen"
Joined the cast of the horror series "The Whispers"
Voiced the role of Spider-Man Noir on the animated series "Ultimate Spider-Man"