Milo Ventimiglia Brings Jess Full Circle With Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life

It's been nearly 10 years since Ventimiglia last played the character

By Chris Harnick Jul 29, 2016 8:22 PMTags
Milo VentimgliaNBC

Whoever says you can't go home again certainly hasn't been following the news of the Gilmore Girls revival, Netflix's Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. Nearly 10 years after the show signed off following its seven season run, the fine folks of Stars Hollow are coming back to life for a four-part series, each part taking place during a season of the year. Essentially the entire original cast came back in some capacity. For Milo Ventimiglia, there was no need to ask twice.

"I stayed very, very close to Dan [Palladino] and Amy [Sherman-Palladino]. They're family to me. When they actually called and said, ‘Hey Mi, we're going to do this,' I said, ‘Great, I don't care where I am, I could be in Tunisia, feeding f—king seals. I will show up.' And then of course it'd be a conversation, they don't have seals in Tunisia, I'm like, I know it doesn't matter," he joked with E! News at a recent reception for his new series This Is Us.

Ventimiglia played bad boy Jess Mariano over 37 episodes over the show's original seasons two-six, this is the first time returning to the character since 2006.

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"It's interesting stepping away from a character and then going back to them. There's something about Jess that I always appreciated. It was at the very end that I thought for whatever angst, whatever broken spirit, whatever sly behavior he had, who he was at his core was a very, very good guy. I think that started to emerge as time went on. We got to the end of his existence on the show, you see him—he's not there for himself, to entertain himself, he's there to ask Rory real questions to get her thinking. I always respected that about the character," Ventimiglia said. "He grew up and he turned into a really decent guy. In terms of what are the lessons he went through, I think he had to have life lived. I think he had to experience heartbreak, he had to experience happiness, he had to experience all these things that we all come across in life, but we can only measure the scale of them when we have time. You're different from when you're 25 to when you're 35. You're different at 21 to 25. Everything changes. You can't unwatch things, you can't unhear things, you can't untaste foods or moments. I think who Jess turned out to be was just—he got to experience life and I think he became a really cool young guy."

Excitement surrounding the return of the Gilmores and the other Stars Hollow residents has reached a fever pitch. Buzz started after the cast reunited for the show's 15th anniversary and has been growing ever since.

"The fact that I think people were buzzing about it was a testament to the writing. Dan and Amy are such incredible writers and they really did create this show that is timeless. It's timeless," he told us. "The excitement to bring it back doesn't surprise me. I think audience were left wanting more, they weren't quite satisfied with the end. To sort of bring it back it didn't feel like a cheap play for money. It actually legitimately genuinely felt like a love letter to fans who were wanting more stories and to live with these characters again. For that, I applaud Dan and Amy and the cast that came back, Warner Bros. for doing it and Netflix for putting it up."

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However, returning to the character was not something Ventimiglia said he needed.

"I mean, for me, I'm perfectly happy when a show ends. It ends, that's what it was. You can step away from it, walk away clean," he said. "Sometimes when they come back around you're like, ‘Why'd you do that?'"

Does he feel that way about Gilmore Girls? "Not at all," he said.

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life premieres Friday, Nov. 25 on Netflix. This Is Us premieres Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 10 p.m. on NBC.

(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)

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