If you’re a millennial TV-watcher, Milo Ventimiglia has likely been in your life for almost 20 years. He angstily toyed with Rory Gilmore’s heart playing the brooding, budding writer Jess on Gilmore Girls. (And actually, he’s basically still doing the same thing in the Netflix reboot.) And now, at age 40, he plays the dad in flashbacks on This Is Us, keeping everyone wondering how exactly his character Jack died and how it’s possible for a father in the 1970s to be so hot. But there’s a lot you may not know about the real-life Ventimiglia, from his early days as a teen actor to his current life as a vegetarian with a non-famous girlfriend and secret tattoos. Here is the untold truth of Milo Ventimiglia.
The Gilmore Girls casting directors immediately thought of him for the role of Jess
Until the premiere of This Is Us, Ventimiglia was best known for his work on Gilmore Girls. He was aptly intriguing and emo as the rebel in Rory’s life, just as the casting directors of the show knew he would be.
When Mara Casey and Jami Rudofsky first got their assignment to find someone to play Jess Mariano for show creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, they summoned Ventimiglia, who they already knew, and sent him right to the producers. Casey told Vanity Fair, “Milo seemed completely right as the bad-boy description [Amy] wanted.” He sailed through the casting, unlike costar Alexis Bledel. She had the sniffles during her screen test for the role of Rory, which affected her performance — nearly costing her the part.
Being an actor was just one of his three career goals
In a 2017 video interview for W with reporter Lynn Hirschberg, Ventimiglia revealed that he originally had three careers that he was considering. He explained, “I was either gonna be an actor, a naval aviator, or a pediatric surgeon. Those were the three things that I wanted to do. I wanted to help kids, I wanted to fly jets, or I wanted to just be an actor.” So how did he decide which of these (very, very, very) different paths to pursue? He says “acting kind of took over” when he entered the business at age 18. Maybe there’s an alternate universe where he’s a doctor.
He and Alexis Bledel thought about marriage
During the Gilmore Girls era (well, the first one in the mid-2000s), co-stars Ventimiglia and Bledel started a romantic relationship after meeting on set. They ended up dating for three-and-a-half years, and it got pretty serious.
A few months before their 2006 breakup, Ventimiglia revealed to People that, while they didn’t have any concrete plans, marriage had definitely crossed their minds. When asked if “wedding bells” were in the couple’s future, he answered, “I think everybody who has been dating for more than a couple of years probably talks about it at some point. It’s a fun thing for us to talk about, but that’s it — it’s down the road.”
Sadly it didn’t work out, though the two can obviously still work together, as seen in their loaded scenes together in the GG revival. Though their characters weren’t shown dating in the new episodes, some fans have conspiracy theories that Jess might be the father of Rory’s baby thanks to an off-screen hookup.
In real life, however, Bledel did end up getting hitched — to Mad Men actor Vincent Cartheiser. The pair is so private about their life together that they kept the birth of their baby secret for months.
He’s currently dating someone who isn’t in the entertainment industry
Ventimiglia’s current girlfriend is Kelly Egarian, a marketing coordinator for fashion brand Stella McCartney. While he has yet to confirm the relationship, the two have been spotted together many times over the past year, and he brought her as his date to the most recent Emmys.
According to E! News, they were even spotted kissing before walking down the red carpet. So, what are they, friends? Doubtful. While Egarian isn’t an actress, she’s a fashion professional who looks like she fits right in at glitzy events where the two have been photographed together. But we’ll just have to wait for the couple themselves to confirm their pairing to hear more of the juicy details.
He wasn’t what This Is Us producers had in mind for Jack Pearson
Ventimiglia wasn’t a shoe-in for his This Is Us role, as he was for Gilmore Girls. He actually wasn’t what the producers of the show had in mind for the role of Jack Pearson, which he, as we know, ended up landing anyway. In fact, he told Frieda Pinto for Variety that he wasn’t the first choice for the role. For the publication’s “Actors on Actors” series, Ventimiglia explained, “They wanted somebody completely different. I walked in with my beard and my long hair and set my motorcycle helmet down and they went, ‘Who is this guy?'” From there, Ventimiglia had a real conversation with the producers, and then, after doing his audition, he says, “I think they just saw something different than someone who had practiced the words. And they picked me.”
He gets asked about his This Is Us character’s death everyday
This Is Us is a drama about family, relationships, and growing up. But there’s also a major mystery woven throughout the series: how did the family’s patriarch, Jack, die? Ventimiglia plays the character in flashbacks, but by the end of the first season, there still weren’t clear answers about his death.
Now, season two is offering a few answers — SPOILER ALERT! the character seems to have died in a house fire — but there are still tons of unanswered questions about the circumstances. And while viewers keep tuning in to learn more, they also apparently interrogate Milo Ventimiglia in his daily life. The actor told Vulture, “There’s not a day that goes by, I don’t pass by someone and they don’t ask me how I died.” Creepy!
Alyssa Milano named her baby after him
Actress Alyssa Milano co-starred with Ventimiglia in a 2008 horror movie called Pathology, and the pair became friends. Milano told People that Ventimiglia is “a good, smart dude” (high compliment!), and recounted that he encouraged her to get together with her now-husband.
Apparently Milano was torn about dating David Bugliari because he worked for the agency that represented her, but Ventimiglia encouraged her to go for it. After the pair’s first child was born, Milano thought the name suited the little bub and “would be a lovely homage to Milo Ventimiglia” for helping her family get together.
The first role he ever auditioned for went to Elijah Wood
At age 12, Ventimiglia tried out for a movie called Radio Flyer. He told W that he attended an open casting call with 2,000 other kids. He made it to the final narrowed down group of six, but after that, he never ended up hearing anything about it again. The movie ended up featuring Elijah Wood in the role of the child, along with Lorraine Bracco, John Heard, and Adam Baldwin. Ventimiglia didn’t attend another audition until he was 16, and didn’t start his career in earnest until after he graduated from an acting conservatory and landed an agent.
His first real paying gig was as Party Guest #1 on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
When Ventimiglia was 18, he got cast in his first paying role: he had one line on sitcom Fresh Prince of Bel-Air as an unnamed party guest. He says it was a cool opportunity to watch Will Smith, who was already a movie star, do his work. He also recounted “freaking out” with his roommate about having one line on the show.
He has secret tattoos
Ventimiglia has multiple tattoos, but you won’t spot them in any of his work. He told The Daily Mail that he has “a couple” but that they’re “personal.” He says that whenever he plays a character who also has tattoos, even if the directors suggest just showing his real ones, he insists that the production covers up the tattoos and puts on fake new ones that the character would have.
He either has deep convictions about separating his identity and role as an actor, or he’s hiding some embarrassing lower back ink — just throwing this out there, but perhaps depicting dolphins and/or calligraphy? He also said if he weren’t an actor, he would get a lot more tattoos.
He’s a lifelong vegetarian
In an interview with The Daily Mail, Ventimiglia revealed some info about his diet: he doesn’t eat meat, and he never has. Say Ventimiglia, “I’m a lifelong vegetarian. That puts me ahead of the game in terms of health.” He has also cut out energy drinks, which were making him crash, and gave up alcohol at age 22.