On Set with Milo Ventimiglia, Part III

CBR News had the opportunity to stop by the “Heroes” set in Los Angeles this summer and speak to Milo Ventimiglia, who plays one of the show’s main characters, Peter Petrelli. In Part I of our conversation with the actor, he discussed the series' new cast members and spoke to the criticisms of Season Two. In Part II of our interview, Ventimiglia discussed "Rest," his new comics project from Devil's Due Publishing. In this final on-set chat, Ventimiglia goes in-depth about the episode he was shooting at the time, “I Am Become Death,” the fourth of the new season, airing October 6 on NBC. He also gave us an overview of what Peter will be going through in upcoming episodes of “Heroes Volume Three: Villains.”

One of the elements of “Heroes” fans enjoy most is the frequent glimpses they are given into different, possible futures for the characters. This began in Season One with the popular episode, “Five Years Gone.” If the two-hour premiere of “Villains” was any indication, fans will have many more opportunities to go back to the future this year. So far, viewers have taken a look into Hiro and Ando’s future, strained relationship, as well as a peek at the darker Future-Claire and the return of scarred Future-Peter. Next Week’s “I Am Become Death” promises to delve further into this possible future and answer some of the questions that were raised in the season premiere.

The episode features Future-Peter confronting Present-Peter. “I honestly don’t know how Adrian [Pasdar] can stand acting with me, because I was having a hard time acting with myself,” laughed Ventimiglia. “Thank god I had great doubles that I was working with. I had guys who really made an effort to move like me, speak like me and pick up the mannerisms and the actions that both ‘present’ Peter and ‘future’ Peter have -- which are similar but also very, very specifically different. It’s a strange thing, jumping back and forth from scar to no scar, voice to no voice, or determined walk to a little more soft.”

Playing a character that is shown in different ways and in different points in their life would seem a difficult challenge for any actor, but Ventimiglia sees it in another way. “I think a lot of it is playing two different characters for me,” he explained. “Something I’ve always loved about being an actor is playing a different character. I think every role that I take, whether it’s on the show playing two versions of the same guy, outside in a film or anything, I try to do different things with each character. I try imagining what catastrophic events went on in Peter’s life to get him to the place where he is as ‘future’ Peter. So, there are just a lot of choices and I try to make them two distinctively different people.”

“I Am Become Death” takes place five to seven years into the “Heroes” future. “I think far enough to where you can see leaps and bounds in technology but not far enough to were cars are flying. But people are flying. More people are flying,” teased the actor.

The episode will also feature a scene where Present-Peter is confronting a Future-Claire who seems to have gone bad. And to confuse things even more, Peter is spending time with a kinder, gentler Sylar. “He’s been hanging out with a good ‘future’ Sylar. Or he appears to be good,” Ventimiglia hinted.

When asked how the cast keeps the continuity straight, Ventimiglia said, “We worry about it. It’s one of those things were I think it helps every scene going forward to know where you’ve been and were your headed character wise. ‘Present’ Peter knows what ‘future’ Claire’s life is like when he relates to ‘present’ Claire. He doesn’t want to see her go down the dark path. Same thing running into ‘future’ Sylar, who’s not the boogie man anymore. It’s confusing. I don’t have it all mapped out.

“It’s all stuff that we’ve known. I could go back in the script and say, oh this is where Peter was last with Sylar, when they were fighting. Or this is when Peter was last with Nathan or with Greg Grunberg’s character, Parkman. It’s all pretty laid out. But the future stuff, I tend not to worry about it too much. I hear about ideas, thoughts and where they’re going with the story, characters and the multitude of all of us. But I just show up and do my work.”

Ventimiglia talked about his character’s role in the series and what he will be going through this season. “You know, in the first season I would say that Peter’s finding himself. In the second season I’d say Peter’s lost. And in the third season, one sentence, Peter’s not quite himself,” he said. “I think the situations that Peter finds himself in, with the people that he comes across, are dramatically influencing who he is, who he’s appearing to be and who people are perceiving him to be. In the first episode of the new season, ‘future’ Peter comes onto the scene and posses as ‘present’ Peter for a little while and he’s not quite himself. When he’s around the villains he’s in the body of another guy, so again, he’s not quite himself. He’s struggling to step outside of what I think he finds as the physical confines that he’s in all the time.”

Finally, when asked if he’s had the opportunity to work with cast members that he hasn’t worked with in the past, Ventimiglia said, “Peter bounces around. I’ve worked with everybody now, including myself and I was pretty well behaved.”

“Heroes Volume Three: Villains” airs on Monday Nights on NBC.

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