Page last updated at 07:53 GMT, Tuesday, 22 April 2008 08:53 UK

Heroes star soaking up limelight

By Kevin Young
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Actor Milo Ventimiglia is only 30 but already he has had the weight of the world on his shoulders.

Milo Ventimiglia opens up about kissing Fergie, winning a Bafta and the new series of Heroes

As care nurse Peter Petrelli in futuristic TV drama Heroes, he was persuaded he needed to "save the cheerleader" to protect the future of the planet.

The show has gained critical acclaim - and a Bafta Television Award in London on Sunday - for its portrayal of a group of people with special powers, giving them the chance to fly, time-travel or vanish, for instance.

Ventimiglia's character is a little different from the rest, however, as initially he has no powers of his own. His talent is to absorb others' abilities by standing beside them, and the first series saw Peter Petrelli coming to terms with the havoc this could cause.

The end of series one brought the conclusion of his mission involving cheerleader Claire Bennet, played by Hayden Panettiere.

Milo Ventimiglia
Ventimiglia has also appeared in TV shows Law and Order and CSI

And when series two begins on BBC Two on Thursday, UK viewers will see the resolution of a cliffhanger dictating his character's own future.

Ventimiglia, who has appeared in TV hits such as The Gilmore Girls and films including Rocky Balboa, admits Heroes has been very different to his other work to date.

"I definitely see the fun that we get to play with in blurring the line of reality," he says.

"The mix of the human struggle with the world of the fantastic, coupled and combined and meshed together, lends itself to a greater ride than some very standard, straightforward types of shows - not to take away from any of them."

He says he still remembers the moment when he was first approached to appear in the drama, which has also been a big hit for US network NBC.

The cast of Heroes
Heroes focuses on characters who are coming to terms with special abilities

"I was in Philadelphia working on Rocky Balboa and I got a phone call from a director friend of mine named David Semel, who I'd worked on American Dreams with.

"He said: 'Listen, I'm doing this show. I'm doing this pilot, it's called Heroes - it's great. I've seen everybody for this one role. We don't like anybody. You are it.'

"I read it and was just blown away. I got out of my contract with Warner Bros, jumped on to Heroes, and was very fortunate that they were as excited about me as I was of them."

Ventimiglia believes Sunday's victory at the Baftas, in the only category dedicated to non UK-material, "carries a lot of weight and is of great significance to our show, to me, to anybody".

"You look at the community of awards shows and associations that garner respect and you think about the Baftas; the Golden Globes; the Hollywood Foreign Press; the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences.

"All of them are right on the same tier, so to win a Bafta is just as prestigious, if not more, as winning any of the others."

Fergie
Who wouldn't want to sit around wearing tattoos making out with Fergie
Milo Ventimiglia on his video with the Black Eyed Peas singer (pictured)

He stresses that egos have remained in check behind the scenes of Heroes, despite the large cast.

Asked which actor has the biggest backstage trailer, he replies: "We all have the same.

"There's a lot of talk at times about who carries the weight of the show, and I think the responsibility falls on all of us.

"I think as long as we remind each other that we're all in it together, and it is a group effort, and not one of us is more important than the other, then hopefully the working situation will be as successful as the show."

Ventimiglia broke away from the ensemble briefly last year to appear in the video for Big Girls Don't Cry, a single by Black Eyed Peas star Fergie.

"Who wouldn't want to sit around wearing tattoos making out with Fergie," he wonders when asked why he took on the role of a drug-dealing boyfriend with extensive body art.

"It was great fun. It was an opportunity as an actor to try and do something a little different.

Milo Ventimiglia and Adrian Pasdar
Ventimiglia appeared with co-star Adrian Pasdar (right) at the TV Baftas

"People would look at me and wonder, 'Wow, do you really have all of those tattoos, and is that a real ponytail, and are you a drug dealer?'

"It was fun to strap on a different character."

And while Ventimiglia is in his most high-profile project to date, he seems to realise that the future could seem him branching out into any number of roles in film, on TV, or even in the music industry.

The state of his career is something he is "very happy with", he says, adding that on turning 30 last July, "I didn't quite feel like I'd reached a peak".

"I think at 63 is when I'm really going to hit a stride," he adds with a smile.


SEE ALSO
Gavin and Stacey scoops TV Baftas
20 Apr 08 |  Entertainment
Bafta TV Awards 2008: The winners
20 Apr 08 |  Entertainment
Heroes and ER returning to US TV
04 Apr 08 |  Entertainment
Heroes in the thick of it in 2007
24 Dec 07 |  UK Politics
Reluctant Heroes try to save world
31 Aug 07 |  Entertainment

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