Milo Anthony Ventimiglia is an American actor best known for his role as Peter Petrelli on the NBC television series Heroes. Ventimiglia’s first career break was in the Fox series Opposite Sex, playing Jed Perry, the main protagonist of the show. Ventimiglia was first noticed by fans during his three year stint on the WB series Gilmore Girls, playing Rory Gilmore’s love interest Jess Mariano from 2001 until his final guest appearance in 2006.
After his own WB series The Bedford Diaries, a recurring role as Meg Pryor’s love interest on NBC’s American Dreams, and playing Rocky Balboa’s son in the sixth and final installment of the Rocky series, Rocky Balboa, Ventimiglia’s big break came in 2006 when he received the part of nurse-turned-superhero Peter Petrelli for four seasons on NBC’s Heroes. He currently stars as Ian Mitchell in the Crackle Original Series Chosen.
Ventimiglia was born in Anaheim, California, the son of Carol (née Wilson) and Peter Ventimiglia. His father is of Sicilian descent and his mother has English, Irish, Scottish, French, and Cherokee Native American ancestry. His last name, Ventimiglia, meaning “twenty miles”, is the name of the town of Ventimiglia in Liguria, Italy, which later gave its name to another city, Ventimiglia di Sicilia. The youngest of three children, he has two older sisters, Leslie and Laurel. He explained in an interview with USA Today that his “crooked mouth” is a result of dead nerves on the left side, which cause that side to remain immobile, much like, incidentally, actor Sylvester Stallone, with whom he worked in Rocky Balboa.
Ventimiglia attended El Modena High School in Orange, California, where he wrestled, acted in drama productions and held the office of president in student government. He graduated in 1995. At eighteen years of age, Ventimiglia studied at the American Conservatory Theater for their summer program. He attended UCLA as a theatre major before getting a scholarship to a music school in San Francisco.
At 18 years of age, Ventimiglia started auditioning, booking jobs, and working his way up. His first starring role was as a gay teenager in Must Be the Music, a short film released as part of Strand Releasing’s Boys Life 2. From there, Ventimiglia studied at UCLA before landing a role on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Ventimiglia has also guest starred on such television series as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit and Boston Public. He had the part of the main character, Jed Perry, in the short-lived FOX TV series, Opposite Sex. Milo also played a key role in an Apple advert for the Apple iBook.
From 2001 to 2004, Ventimiglia played brooding teen Jess Mariano on Gilmore Girls; he was introduced in the second season as a main cast member. In season four he dropped down to a guest star / recurring cast member, and he came back for two episodes in season six. He signed on for a spin-off of “Gilmore Girls,” entitled Windward Circle, which was going to be focused on the relationship between Jess and his estranged father (played by Rob Estes), but the proposed series never made it to air because of high filming costs. The season 3 episode Here Comes the Son was the pilot for the California-set spin-off, which would have starred Ventimiglia, Rob Estes and Sherilyn Fenn.
In the third and final season of the NBC drama American Dreams, Ventimiglia played Chris Pierce, the rebellious boyfriend of Meg Pryor (Brittany Snow). Pierce and his single mother, Shelly (Daphne Zuniga), a Playboy bunny, move into the house next to the Pryors. Chris Pierce evades the draft, fearing he will be forced to fight in the Vietnam War, where Meg Pryor’s older brother, J.J. (Will Estes) was wounded. Chris and Meg escape Philadelphia in the series finale to Berkeley, California, much to the sadness of Meg’s best friend, Roxanne Bojarski (Vanessa Lengies).
In 2005, he starred in the mid-season replacement series “The Bedford Diaries,” for which he did not have to audition. The producers had only Ventimiglia in mind for the role. However, the show lasted only eight episodes and was one of several shows not picked up by the newly-formed network The CW. During his off-time from television and production work, he has had supporting roles in horror films such as Cursed and Stay Alive as well as starring roles in the short-film Intelligence and the full-length feature Dirty Deeds. Most recently, he played Robert “Rocky Jr.” Balboa, the son of Rocky Balboa, in the latest Rocky installment Rocky Balboa which was released in December 2006. Coincidentally, in the 2004 Gilmore Girls episode, “Nag Hammadi Is Where they Found the Gnostic Gospels”, Lorelai Gilmore refers to Milo’s character, Jess, as being able to “pull off an extremely convincing ‘Adrian’”, a reference likening Jess to Rocky Balboa.
In his biggest role to date, he starred as Peter Petrelli in the NBC program Heroes, a show about “ordinary” people discovering they have superpowers. Alongside his work in “Heroes,” Ventimiglia has also taken on other projects. In mid-2007 he starred as the love interest of pop/R&B singer Fergie in the music video for “Big Girls Don’t Cry”. In 2008, he starred in the horror film Pathology. The movie co-starred Charmed actress Alyssa Milano and was directed by Marc Schoelermann for MGM.
After working with writers Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor on Pathology, Ventimiglia appeared in the pair’s next film, Gamer. He has called Neveldine and Taylor the “next big thing” in filmmaking and immediately agreed to play the part of Rick Rape in the futuristic thriller. When describing Rick Rape, Ventimiglia said that “Moonraker, silver grill, with a latex outfit making him look like a bumblebee. With the perverse nature of a teenage boy on speed.” Ventimiglia also starred in the Xavier Gens apocalypse thriller film The Divide.
He was the voice of Wolverine in the English dub of the Marvel Anime: Wolverine anime series and reprised his role in an episode of the Marvel Anime: Iron Man and an episode of Marvel Anime: Blade. Milo did not return to voice Wolverine in Marvel Anime: X-Men, instead Wolverine was voiced by Steven Blum. Ventimiglia has been cast in Frank Darabont’s pilot L.A. Noir for TNT as Ned Stax, a former marine.