Milo Ven­timiglia re­unites with Amy Sher­man- Pal­ladino and Dan Pal­ladino

Variety - - Variety - By DE­BRA BIRN­BAUM

“Hi, Mom and Dad.” That’s how “This Is Us” star Milo Ven­timiglia greeted Amy Sher­man-pal­ladino and Dan Pal­ladino, the cre­ators of “The Mar­velous Mrs. Maisel,” when Va­ri­ety re­united them for a con­ver­sa­tion about their craft. After all, Ven­timiglia grew up on the set of “Gil­more Girls,” in which he played Rory’s erst­while love in­ter­est Jess. Ten years later, the cou­ple still serves as men­tors to the ac­tor, ex­chang­ing fre­quent emails and of­fer­ing parental ad­vice, which the ac­tor grate­fully ac­cepts.

After en­sur­ing he’d had enough to eat (and had a sweater on hand in case the air con­di­tion­ing kicked into over­drive), they got se­ri­ous (well, kind of) — talk­ing about what they learned from work­ing with each other, set­ting the tone on the set, and yes, even a po­ten­tial re­union on “Maisel.” “Don’t think it has not been dis­cussed!” says Sher­man-pal­ladino. “It’s got to be the right part. It can’t be just a cameo. It’s got to have some meat to it. And it’s also got to be a time when he can shave and cut his hair into a 1950s-pe­riod look. But the re­unit­ing will def­i­nitely hap­pen.”

What were your first im­pres­sions of each other?

Sher­man-pal­ladino: We were in a weird sit­u­a­tion on “Gil­more” where they al­ways for­got we were on the lot, and we got a lot of free­dom. And just ran­domly, some­one showed us some work that Milo had done and were like, “We just re­ally need to have him on the show.” We were al­ready madly in love with Milo be­fore he showed up on the set, so we lit­er­ally wrote a part for him. I’ve never had chil­dren be­cause I can’t be con­vinced that they would turn out to be like Milo. If I had had some sort of pa­per that said, “You won’t get the Me­nen­dez boys. You’re go­ing to get Milo,” maybe we would have done the whole pro­cre­ation thing.

Ven­timiglia: My par­ents were very cool with the co-par­ent­ing thing. My mother’s fa­vorite show at the time was “Gil­more Girls,” while I was 23, 24 years old. So go­ing into my first meet­ing with Dan and Amy, I was like, “Oh, wow, I’m ex­cited to meet the cre­ators of the show that my mom loves. And wow, I’m au­di­tion­ing.” And as a young ac­tor, “I hope I’m im­pres­sion­able. I hope I make a good im­pres­sion. I hope they like me. I hope they like what I, that I think maybe I can act.” I re­mem­ber just in­stantly feel­ing wel­come to do what I felt right as an ac­tor, to make the choices based on these beau­ti­ful words that they had writ­ten. I al­ways feel wel­come with that, and I feel smarter when I walk away.

Milo, what did you learn from work­ing with Amy and Dan?

Ven­timiglia: Speed. Get­ting my words out fast. I have to ad­mit, ac­tors at times re­ally like to milk a mo­ment, and I know that I would do that. I felt like I was very much in this in­ten­sive act­ing work­shop pro­gram to process my emo­tions, process my words quickly, but yet hit ev­ery sin­gle note that needed to hap­pen. So it was a dif­fer­ent style of act­ing than I think I had grown up with, but it’s been so valu­able be­cause no one wants to watch “War and Peace,” let alone read it in this day and age. So you have to, as an ac­tor, get to it.

Pal­ladino: Yeah, some­one com­ing in and just mo­tor-mouthing words, it’s not go­ing to work. All the act­ing has to be there as well, it’s just on “Gil­more” es­pe­cially, we were writ­ing words that were at a mu­si­cal pace. You couldn’t take a “Law & Or­der” script and pace it up like that. It’s not go­ing to make it bet­ter, be­cause it’s not de­signed to do that. Just like if you slow down the “Gil­more Girls” stuff, it’s just not go­ing to work as well.

Sher­man-pal­ladino: I would love to pace up a “Law & Or­der” script! That would be very en­ter­tain­ing to see a re­ally fast-paced “Law & Or­der.”

Ven­timiglia: Sam Water­ston just go­ing re­ally fast!

Sher­man-pal­ladino: From a very, very young age, and I know that it’s only got­ten stronger and bet­ter as he’s turned into the man that he is, Milo has a work ethic and a pro­fes­sion­al­ism. He walked onto the set with a level of not just re­spect for the process but a very much, “I’m here. I’m in it,” get­ting to know the crew im­me­di­ately, who they are. Re­ally into re­hears­ing. Re­ally into re­spect­ing his other ac­tors and be­ing there for their off- cam­era as much as they are there for his of­f­cam­era. There’s a re­spect level that every­body has for him, and it was very in­ter­est­ing thing to see hap­pen, be­cause we were still fig­ur­ing out how to shoot this shit when he showed up.

Pal­ladino: I think about this ev­ery once in a while. On “Gil­more Girls” we oc­ca­sion­ally had some re­ally bad long, long, long, hard days, and we had one when Milo was not there. The next day, we were stand­ing around talk­ing about this mas­sive day in a gal­lows hu­mor kind of way, and I just re­mem­ber Milo go­ing, “Oh, damn, I wish I had been there.” It wasn’t the point of what we were say­ing, but to Milo, he was like, “I want to go through that ex­pe­ri­ence. I want to live that.”

Ven­timiglia: My most fa­vorite place is on set. It re­ally is. And the fact that Amy and Dan set­ting me up over there in a very wel­com­ing way, they gave me the con­fi­dence to walk onto that set to cry when I needed to, to speak up when I needed to, to show fun, even in those longer hours. And Dan’s not wrong. I want to be around for the 15-, 20-hour days, be­cause there’s strength, and you’re in it to­gether, and you get to cre­ate and have these mo­ments that not many peo­ple get to have. I liked Dan and Amy when I first met them, and I was a fan. Now I love them, even to the point where I’m like, “Hey guys, do you need some­body to sweep the floors on ‘Maisel’? I’m in. You need some­one to make sand­wiches? I can do that, too.” I just want to hang out with you guys.

Milo, how did that shape your ex­pe­ri­ences in how you ap­proach be­ing on sets go­ing for­ward?

Ven­timiglia: When I was younger, I don’t know if I have talked about this be­fore, my very first pay­ing gig as an ac­tor, was on the “Fresh Prince of Bel-air,” and on this set I saw Will Smith, who was one of the big­gest movie stars at the time, in ‘95, com­ing off of [“Six De­grees of Sep­a­ra­tion”] back to his TV show. He stopped and talked to ev­ery­one. He knew ev­ery­one’s name. He was kind, even to me, a kid who had one line on the show. He stopped and talked to me for a cou­ple min­utes. And as he walked away, I thought to my­self, “I want to be just like him. I want to do the work, but have fun and rally the troops.” And so ev­ery kind of job that I’ve been on, whether it was join­ing “Gil­more” in the sec­ond sea­son, or jump­ing on at day one on “This Is Us,” where I’m top of the call sheet. It doesn’t mat­ter where you are in the peck­ing or­der. We’re very lucky to be here. We’re lucky to be artists to­gether, work­ing to­wards the com­mon goal of mak­ing some­thing beau­ti­ful that an au­di­ence is go­ing to en­joy, but also, if we’re go­ing to be spend­ing any­where from 10 to 16, 17 hours a day to­gether, god­dammit, it’s got to be fun.

Sher­man-pal­ladino: It’s very im­por­tant when you’re start­ing a show that it starts from the top, and the per­son at the top sets the tone. For ex­am­ple, when we worked with Sut­ton Foster on “Bun­heads,” she came in, and she’s a worker. “We’re all in this to­gether.” And when you have some­body who walks in who’s in that top po­si­tion who sets that tone, it goes a long way, be­cause if there are peo­ple whose ten­den­cies are to be a lit­tle less pleas­ant, or peo­ple who are go­ing to be a lit­tle bit more gripey or nudgy or com­plain-y, or lazy or, “I don’t want to do some­thing I don’t want to do of­f­cam­era. I’m tired. Get some­one else to do it.” It makes it very hard for that per­son to be able to have that kind of be­hav­ior if the per­son who walked in on top does not have that kind of be­hav­ior. It’s amaz­ing how even re­ally good peo­ple, they’re go­ing to take their tone from the per­son who walks in on top. So the show goes on for seven years, you’re ei­ther in for seven years of hell or you’re in it to­gether. It’s re­ally what makes a show have that ex­tra lit­tle love to it. An au­di­ence doesn’t know why, but they’re go­ing to feel that there was some­thing set about that show and the way those peo­ple were to­gether.

Milo, you’ve had some great roles, but the writ­ing on “Gil­more” and the writ­ing on “This Is Us” are both stel­lar. Is that some­thing that you look for in a part?

Ven­timiglia: I don’t know if it’s some­thing that I look for, but I do ask my­self, who are you go­ing to be work­ing with? Are you work­ing with a tal­ented dic­ta­tor? If you’re work­ing with tal­ented writ­ers that are also col­lab­o­ra­tive but also en­gage with ac­tors the way Dan and Amy en­gage with ac­tors or the way that Dan Fo­gel­man en­gages ac­tors, it makes the job more en­tic­ing. I think at this point, 23 years in, I don’t feel the need to work for work’s sake. I want the work to be mean­ing­ful, to my­self as well as to an au­di­ence. I want peo­ple to be able to learn and grow and laugh and cry with the roles that I play. At the same time, I per­son­ally want to value the time that I spend on set and

who I’m on set with. It just feels like the uni­verse is bless­ing me with the op­por­tu­nity to work with such great writ­ers and great peo­ple, and I can’t ex­plain it. I don’t know how it hap­pens. I’m just grate­ful and happy to be here.

Sher­man-pal­ladino: Be­ing an ac­tor is a re­ally hard job. Be­lieve me, there’s a lot of peo­ple out there who are like, “Oh, boohoo. Poor ac­tors. They get to be on the cover of mag­a­zines and get to dress up in fancy clothes,” but that’s such a short-sighted view, be­cause in a world of judg­ment, there’s no job in the world where you get judged more than be­ing an ac­tor, be­cause from the minute you walk in, “it’s how do you look? Are you right for the part?” You can’t take part in just be­ing a hu­man or hav­ing your good days and your bad days and your days where your hair looks ridicu­lous and your face has a weird rash or you’ve got your heart bro­ken, and you just want to eat a pizza and gain 10 pounds. I just can’t imag­ine the sort of pres­sure. I also marvel at the fact that the job it­self is so tech­ni­cally hard. You have to act, you have to hit a mark, and you’ve got wires shoved up places you don’t want wires shoved up, and yet you have to bare your soul, and you have to be will­ing to cry, and be vul­ner­a­ble, or some­times you’re the vil­lain or some­times you do bad things to a beloved char­ac­ter, and then you have peo­ple at home go­ing, “How could he do that?” It’s a re­ally emo­tion­ally drain­ing job, and I have great ad­mi­ra­tion for peo­ple who han­dle it with grace and still en­joy it in the morn­ing. Be­cause it doesn’t hap­pen with­out those peo­ple in front of the cam­era. I could stand there and read my script on cam­era, but I don’t think any­body would en­joy that very much.

Ven­timiglia: I would. I think Dan and I would love that.

Milo, what do you think about the role of showrun­ner?

Ven­timiglia: The only thing I could equate it to is there’s a bunch of baby chicks in a nest, and they’re star­ing, they’re look­ing out for their mom and their dad to come back with some food, and they’re dy­ing. They’re like, “Oh my god, when are they com­ing back?” And then Mom and Dad show up, and they show up bear­ing gifts, and the gifts are these words. Back when I was 24, 25 on “Gil­more,” I looked for­ward to those scripts com­ing out, and I didn’t care what I was do­ing, I would stop what I was do­ing, and I would tear right into it. And it’s the same thing nowa­days on “This Is Us.” So that ex­pec­ta­tion, I think, is a dif­fer­ent kind of pres­sure that I have no idea about. I pro­duce, I di­rect, but I don’t write, and that cre­ation is some­thing that I think ter­ri­fies me, but yet Dan and Amy do it in such a way that it’s con­fi­dence. It’s, “This is what we’ve put to­gether,” and “This is what we think,” and “This is how we di­rect you in per­form­ing it,” but it’s lit­er­ally, it brought the big­gest, bad­dest worm back to the next for us to feast on ev­ery time. I couldn’t imag­ine the pres­sure that that is, a whole dif­fer­ent pres­sure that I’ve seen Amy and Dan grace­fully nav­i­gate for more than a decade now, on mul­ti­ple shows that have been suc­cess­ful, and it’s in­spir­ing, even for me as a non­writ­ing pro­ducer to watch them and their con­fi­dence and grace and say, “I want to be like them.”

Sher­man-pal­ladino: Well, we’re just drunk all the time. (Laughs.) Milo’s be­ing very sweet and kind and say­ing lovely words, but I think he will also re­mem­ber that the scripts, our ta­ble reads were lit­er­ally the day be­fore we started shoot­ing. Be­cause we were writ­ing ev­ery script, and it was just a lot. “Gil­more” was a thing where you al­ways felt like you were rac­ing, rac­ing, rac­ing, and if you stopped rac­ing for a hot sec­ond to take a breath, the whole train’s go­ing to stop and go off the rails. There was no mo­ment to step back. This show, Rachel’s role is mas­sive, and she is not a co­me­dian, and she puts a lot of work into these standup rou­tines to make them feel like she is some­body who is com­fort­able do­ing standup when quite frankly she re­ally isn’t. So you can’t spring a script on Rachel [Bros­na­han] the day be­fore be­cause Rachel pre­pares for a ta­ble read. So it’s very im­por­tant that we get her that script early, be­cause oth­er­wise, we’re adding ex­tra stress to a girl whose work­load is so high and al­ready puts so many de­mands on her­self. She’ll just crush un­der her own weight of ex­pec­ta­tion. So we’ve had to re­ally make sure that she un­der­stands where she’s go­ing and what’s hap­pen­ing and has some ma­te­rial to work on even if it’s not quite pol­ished yet, which is some­thing we never did in the past. You have to re­spect what the ac­tor’s process is, be­cause if you take their process away from them, then they can’t do the work that they need to do, and that is again, soul­crush­ing, be­cause they are in front of the cam­era. It is not fair, and it’s some­thing that we’ve had to ad­just this year.

Amy and Dan, if you wrote an episode of “This Is Us,” what would it look like?

Pal­ladino: The way Amy’s been talk­ing about it, I think Jack’s prob­a­bly go­ing to hit the bot­tle again.

Sher­man-pal­ladino: Yeah, yeah. I think he’s go­ing to have a re­ally fast-paced mono­logue that would go on for five pages, sit­ting on top of a bar, and we’d walk past, mid­dle of the street, and then he would go to a PTA meet­ing and con­tinue the mono­logue. It would be like 14 pages of a mono­logue, drunk, and see by the time, it would only be 4½ min­utes of screen time.

Ven­timiglia: Great. I’m in.

Sher­man-pal­ladino: The won­der­ful thing about the state of tele­vi­sion right now is be­cause there’s so many open­ings for dif­fer­ent kinds of shows, and that in a world like this you can have a “Maisel,” and you can have a “This Is Us,” which are re­ally stylis­ti­cally dif­fer­ent kinds of shows. But that is kind of fab­u­lous. I also think that net­work tele­vi­sion in gen­eral should build a statue to Dan Fo­gel­man be­cause he fuck­ing saved net­work tele­vi­sion, be­cause every­body was like, “And we’re done with net­work tele­vi­sion,” and then “This Is Us” proved, no, no. All you have to do is re­spect the au­di­ence, be­cause I don’t think net­work tele­vi­sion was re­spect­ing the au­di­ence. I think he’s proved that if you just tell the au­di­ence, “We’re in­ter­ested in more than just you buy­ing an Audi. We would like you to laugh and cry and feel some­thing and care about some­thing and think about it once you turn your TV off,” that’s a great place tele­vi­sion is in. And I think he proves that you can do that, and I don’t ac­tu­ally know that other net­works have picked up on the clue yet, but maybe they will.

‘THE PER­SON AT THE TOP SETS THE TONE.’ —Amy Sher­man-pal­ladino

Va­ri­ety is on Face­book, Twit­ter and In­sta­gram @Va­ri­ety FOL­LOW US:

Milo Ven­timiglia is nom­i­nated for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive year in the lead drama ac­tor cat­e­gory.

Golden Globe win­ner “The Mar­velous Mrs. Maisel” is up for 14 Em­mys this year, in­clud­ing com­edy se­ries.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.