Milo Ventimiglia talks about possibly creating a new genre of horror film, getting his hands bloody on the set and what makes a horror film a horror film
As one of the many co-stars on TV's immensely popular Heroes, Milo Ventimiglia could play it safe in roles that played to his growing stature as a movie star. However, the actor is in fact doing just the opposite and as Ted Gray in the horror/thriller Pathology, he shows us the many different sides a killer can have.
Pathology is about a group of med students who hatch a scheme to see who can commit the perfect crime -- one that even a fellow pathologist couldn't unravel.
So what was it about this script that made you want to do Pathology?
Milo Ventimiglia: I liked the character. I liked Ted Gray. I don't know, I saw a nice, rounded arc and to try and find those beats as an actor, you're definitely doing unlikable things but you're the guy that has to keep everybody interested, you know? He's kind of a bit of an antihero. It's a challenge to make him likable doing all these terrible, terrible things.
From what I understand there's no real human quality about any of the characters by the end of this film?
Milo Ventimiglia: The one thing I really did like about my character in particular and how he fit into the whole film, is how you've got to show these two sides. You've got this world, these pathologists that are, day in and day out, taking apart bodies, coming up with theories about how they died and how to better serve the community. At the same time these people have lives outside and families and my character in particular, he has a fiance and things are going well for him, so you've got to show that nice warm compassionate side at the same time you've got to show the steely, icy cool of a doctor. Not only that, but a doctor who gets a bit of a God complex and starts killing people for sport.
You're obviously someone who doesn't mind changing their image up from project to project...
Milo Ventimiglia: No, I try. Every single job I do. It sounds goofy but I did a music video for Fergie. I was in full on tattoos, ponytail, but it's like even things like that they help other people to see you in a different light. They give me opportunities. I try and change the image with every job that I can, it's just hard when you work on a TV show and you work so many months and trying to get away from that.
What was your experience going through the research process?
Milo Ventimiglia: As you know we spent a lot of time at the morgue; the County Coroner's Office. When you're in there you're seeing evacuated bodies. You're seeing life that no longer exists. It gives you an appreciation when you look someone in the eye, you shake their hand, and you hug your friends, your girlfriend, your family. It just gives you an appreciation for the life that surrounds you. At the same time you understand how fragile it is. That you don't need to be an idiot or get so angry at times. I saw so many kids 22, 19, with holes the size of a dime and they're dead. It's a gunshot and of course those kids thought they were as tough as nails, they never expected to be dead but they're gone. It's kinda nice to walk out of the County Coroner's Office with a couple of sayings, you know? "You're not so tough being dead on a morgue table."
Did you learn anything else from this production so far?
Milo Ventimiglia: A lot of medical stuff. Career-wise it's another set with a different group of creative types. We're just trying to make what I hope will be a good movie. I spent the time at the coroner's office. I did a lot of research online. I watched 17 real autopsies and stuff like that you just... it's a good way, you learn about people and their different ways of working. You're not going against that, it's like every day when it's the group together we just goof off.
The camaraderie on the set seems really nice.
Milo Ventimiglia: It's a nice group of people. Everybody has a good time, I think. There's no predominant egos. Everybody's here to help one another and lift them up and support and stuff. It makes coming to work fun. Ultimately, I think it shows on screen.
Do you consider Pathology to be a horror film?
Milo Ventimiglia: Not necessarily, I mean people ask me. I say it's more of a thriller. The psychology of what these characters are going through. Think about the physical act of pulling a trigger. The amount of pressure it takes to pull a trigger or the speed it takes to shove a sharp object into somebody. The psychology behind it. Why people kill? Why people don't kill? To me it's more of a psychological thriller. At the same time there's the medical side of it. It's kind of gory, jagged slashes and whatnot.
A lot of the stuff we do in the pathology room, I wish you guys would've seen. It's trying to be straight out of the books medical. I don't know? What is a horror film nowadays? You got torture/kill movies? You've got monster movies? What is this? Medical horror movie? I don't know.
It must be nice to be doing a film like this where someone isn't being beaten or tied down?
Milo Ventimiglia: Yeah, I've definitely seen the wide range of horror films. Everything from The Hills Have Eyes to the film coming out Hatchet. I love that film. Adam (Green; the director) is one of my closest friends. What is a horror movie? If it shows blood is that horror?
Is horror a dirty word to you?
Milo Ventimiglia: No. I think that's the same as a film actor snubbing their nose at television. It's like, no, there's a million different art-forms, there's a million different mediums, different ways to shoot and things to shoot. F*ck man, shoot it all. Have a good time with all of it. As an actor it's like, go with whatever excites you as an actor. What are you're going to invest yourself in as a character? What are you going to get into? Have a variety of characters to play.
What's it like working with the director Mark Schoelermann?
Milo Ventimiglia: It's great. I've been a little more versed in the production side of things. Seeing what he's shooting and then editing the movie in my head as I know he's doing in his. He's composing some great stuff. At the same time there was always a question of a language barrier. He's a German Director and he works with a German DP. Sometimes they're hollering things out in German it's like, "Just say it in English and we can all be in on the game." It's great. Very, very cool people. Having a lot of fun.
In between takes you were putting the gloves on yourself, bloodying up the blades. You don't seem to have a problem...
Milo Ventimiglia: No, it doesn't bother me. I'm one of those guys. I don't like to have to depend on someone else to reset the props. It's like, "No, you've gotta take responsibility for it." I know how things fit and feel. To reset that stuff myself, it's easy. The prop guys are hilarious because I'll have one set of gloves and I'll keep reusing them to get the most out of it. They're like, "We've got boxes of these."
Pathology hits movie theaters April 18th from MGM.