Taking a quick break from shooting to talk to us, Milo Ventimiglia was very friendly and chatted rather eagerly about Armored as he stood wiping the dirt and faux blood off his hands and onto his grimy officer’s uniform. The “Heroes” star had caked dirt and fake cuts on his face and was good-humored as he joked with ComingSoon.net about his beat up appearance:
Q: How did your character get into this current state?
Milo Ventimiglia: You mean dirty, bloody and half way dead? My character Officer Eckehart responds to a siren. When getting to the location, he thinks he hears the siren and the siren goes off. He gets himself shot when he does his job and pulls his weapon. He gets a shotgun blast to the gut.
Q: Who shoots you?
Ventimiglia: One of the bad guys shoots me.
Q: I’m assuming you have a fairly leading role in the film, is your character in this state
Ventimiglia: Quite a bit. The majority of the film I’m in the back of an armored car laying, dying, wailing, crying. Thinking about my own morality. He’s a mess, but this is the worst where I’m at.
Q: So this is kind of your homage in Tim Roth in “Reservoir Dogs?”
Ventimiglia: I intentionally didn’t watch that because he was so genius in that role. It’s kind of hard to be there and witness somebody getting shot in the gut and do an honest interpretation of it. I think for me it was just understanding more the mental pain and disconnect from the physical of what you go through if you know you’re going to die which is pretty painful and pretty tiring too.
Q: What was it about this project that you liked?
Ventimiglia: First of all the actors. To be able to work with Matt Dillon, Laurence Fishburne, Jean Reno, Skeet Ulrich, Amaury Nolasco and Columbus Short, that was an initial draw of course. Then the story to tell. This kind of hopeful youth going against the desperation of guys that are kind of at the end of their rope. There’s a story to tell there. I think ultimately I’m never going to jump into anything that I don’t think there is a story to tell or a character arc to understand so for me it was just being a part of that.
Q: Is that ballpoint pin going to come in handy later?
Ventimiglia: (Pretends like he stabs someone with the pen) It’s part of the uniform. I even have my bullet point vest underneath here. So yeah I’m geared up.
Q: How long does it take you to get into wardrobe and makeup?
Ventimiglia: Makeup is about an hour and wardrobe is about 15-20 minutes. If I were to take these pants off and just stand them here, they would stand on their own. They’re saturated in blood and dirt and sh*t. Not sh*t, stuff. There’s all kinds of junk in here that allows them to have a life of their own.
Q: Is that an authentic vest?
Ventimiglia: It’s pretty thick. It’s pretty heavy, but I think adding the full gun belt and all of that stuff, it has the authenticity and feel of what these guys go through. I mean understanding that you’ve got it strapped to your chest and it’s going to save your life hopefully it’s easy when you walk around and feel like if I get shot I’ll be okay, but people also would target you to get shot. By being a sheriff you put yourself in that position. I don’t know. There’s a psychology to putting on as much of the real thing as you can.
Q: Did you do any research with cops and sheriffs?
Ventimiglia: Just talked to a handful of sheriffs. Those guys are great. I have a lot of respect for them.
Q: What’s life been like on the set with the other guys?
Ventimiglia: It’s a total boys club. I find myself in the company of some great actors so being one of the younger guys I sit quietly and listen. But then when you’ve got Laurence [Fishburne] and Matt [Dillon] telling stories and they turn to you like, “what do you think?” “Um I think this.” They’re just generous good-hearted people. [They are] very genuine and honest and welcoming. These guys have been doing this for 30 years and longer. They’re just incredible people and I’m so fortunate.
Q: Since your character is in the back of the armored truck a lot of the time, does he befriend any of the bad guys or does he get a better understanding of why they’re doing what they are?
Ventimiglia: He does get a better sense of what they’re going through, through Columbus Short’s character. But it think ultimately Eckehart is on the opposite end of the law like “you don’t do this. You don’t break the law. You don’t shoot people. You don’t do any of that stuff.” So there’s never going to be a full understanding, but when it comes to a perceived bad guy possibly trying to save the life of the good guy, there’s got to be some unspoken camaraderie regardless of being on opposite sides.
Q: Do you know how to use a gun?
Ventimiglia: Yes, I do know how to handle a weapon.
Q: Can you talk about working with the director Nimrod?
Ventimiglia: Nimrod is great man. He and I didn’t get a chance to meet until two days before I started so we dove in. I see what he does with the camera. I see the way that he speaks to the actors and it’s very effortless. He’s incredibly talented and encouraging with what his vision is and giving that to all of us. I’ve never felt in the dark which is great.