Milo Ventimiglia's TV Career Began On Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air

Photo: Brian To/REX/Shutterstock.
Milo Ventimiglia has been a familiar face on TV for many of us ever since he showed up to romance Rory on Gilmore Girls as sexy, small-town bad boy Jess Mariano. ("Bad boy" as in, he smokes Marlboro Lights, wears a leather jacket, and carries around tomes by edgy beatnik writers.) And today, he stars alongside Mandy Moore as Jack Pearson on the hit new drama This Is Us. But everybody has to start somewhere — and Ventimiglia's not-quite-breakthrough role is awesomely random in retrospect.
The 39-year-old sat down with Interview magazine and reflected on, among other things, his acting career thus far. It all began in 1995 with his first credited screen role — "Party Guest No. 1" — on one of the best shows of the day: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

"It was fun, man. I had one line," he told Interview. (He delivered that single line with panache, though, as you'll see in the clip below.) "But the most impactful thing for me being on that set was to see how Will Smith was with his crew. I think he was coming off of Men in Black, and was already signed up for Men in Black II. He was not just a TV star; he was a movie star already."
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Ventimiglia continued, crediting Smith for the positive, inclusive attitude he maintains on set as an actor today. "He knew everyone's name and was inclusive of everyone and the crew. For me, being that that was my first job, I just watched and soaked up as much as I could," he gushed. "It impacted me and how I am around my sets and my crews. Will Smith is a good man. So I just try to be a good man. It was a pretty impactful moment, I'm very thankful that that was my first gig — being around him."
Can we all do a collective "aw" at the fact that Will Smith was basically Ventimiglia's role model? (And then go back to adoring him as a hot, honorable dad on This Is Us, of course.)