"Is it wrong to say that it's a lot of fun to play a serial killer?" wonders Ventimiglia of his three-episode arc on Gotham

By Amanda Michelle Steiner
Updated April 13, 2015 05:50 PM
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Credit: Jessica Miglio/FOX

Set to play a serial killer for a three-episode arc on Gotham, Milo Ventimiglia‘s Jason Lennon is a far cry from Peter Petrelli, the empath he portrayed on Heroes.

Nicknamed “The Ogre” – but not the one we know from the DC Comics universe – Jason targets young women in Gotham on a twisted quest for love. When the women he encounters don’t meet his expectations, they become discarded in increasingly grisly fashion.

With the Gotham PD too fearful to investigate due to Jason’s tendency to target the loved ones of any detectives who start poking around, Jason basically has free rein on Gotham’s dating pool that is, until Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) – with more honor than sense, as ever – steps in.

Now that he’s back in the superhero world, Ventimiglia, 37, tells PEOPLE that playing a villain is “fun in a different way” from playing someone like his Heroes character. The actor also reveals whether or not we can expect him to appear in the upcoming Heroes reboot, Heroes Reborn, and what he thinks happened to Rory (Alexis Bledel) and Jess after the series finale of Gilmore Girls.

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On Heroes, Peter was a good guy almost to a fault. What’s it like to play a villain?
Fun in a different way. Is it wrong to say that it’s a lot of fun to play a serial killer? But it is! Playing someone that is more selfish than selfless is fun. At the same time, I never wanted to make a guy who is without humanity, without some kind of human quality. Luckily, the words on the page helped me out with that. He’s a guy who is looking for love. He is looking for a partner.

You said that he’s coming from a place of love. Twisted though that place is, does that mean the door is left open for Jason’s rehabilitation or return?

I think that there are some people you can’t necessarily reprogram. I think that there’s a degree where you have to give someone an opportunity to prove that they see a different side of life, but at the same time, some people are just evil. We all have within us the capability to be completely deplorable and evil. Like, what are those things that trigger that and allow us to explore that darker side?

What was it like to finally work with Ben McKenzie?
We’ve been friends for years and years and years, but we’ve never been on a set together. There’s a huge group of actors that have been in the game since our early twenties and we all just know each other and you just get to be friends with each other because these are your contemporaries. Ben was always a contemporary, and he was clocking in good work, and he’s just such a good guy. It was a blast. I always hope to be on set with good friends, and it was about time for he and I.

What do you think of the Heroes reboot? Is there any way we’ll see Peter Petrelli on Heroes Reborn?

I’m sure he’ll be mentioned, but you’re not going to see him. Back in our heyday, after the first season, I was the only one that was like, “Look, I’m having fun, but at some point this is going to end.” And people couldn’t believe that I said that. And then, the show ended four years later. Now that the show is coming back, I think it’s going to be interesting to see how the fans react to what is not what they had before. They may not be completely satiated without all the characters they fell in love with.

When I watch a show, I watch it for the characters. If the majority of them aren’t there it’s going to be different. It doesn’t mean that it can’t be great. I’m very excited for Zach [Levi, who will play the lead] and Masi [Oka, who is returning]. I wish them all the best. In my mind, Peter Petrelli f—ed off and went somewhere else. He’s gone.

Speaking of past characters, I feel compelled to ask about Gilmore Girls. Jess was always my favorite of Rory’s boyfriends, even though he was kind of a jerk.

He was a good guy, though! By the very end. He was a really good guy.

He was! By the end. Speaking of rehabilitation. Anyway, I like to think that Jess and Rory got back together after the series ended. What do you think about that? Do you want to kill my dreams?
I don’t want to kill your dreams, but I don’t think Jess and Rory got back together. I think they kept a friendly relationship. Maybe they send each other postcards. There was another version of the ending that I’d heard from [GG creator] Amy Sherman-Palladino and it still wasn’t Rory and Jess. Or it was? I have no idea. I think that’s also the cool part. You never really know. There are stories and things that you wonder about but then you get to dictate how you see things and how they could have worked out, which is kinda cool, you know?

As opposed to, “Hey, let’s revisit this, let’s put a capper on it and let’s tell you exactly how it ended.” Then, maybe, you’re going to be disappointed. That’s always the tough thing about revivals. You get so excited, and then maybe it will leave a bad taste in your mouth. I don’t know. I’m of the opinion of moving forward. Something ends, it’s done. And that’s okay! You get to share the memories and look back at things reverently and just move forward.

[Willfully ignores] So you are telling me that Jess and Rory at least keep up a texting relationship.
[Laughs] I don’t think Jess is the texting type. I don’t want to say he’s as old school as letter-writing, but I think Jess really, truly cared about Rory and that was pretty evident at the very end. He said, “This isn’t you. I know you. This isn’t you.” But I don’t know.

There’s a Gilmore Girls reunion happening at the ATX Television Festival. Will you be there?
I’d love to, but I just signed on for another movie that hasn’t been announced so I’m waiting for my schedule. I’d love to be a part of it and to see the old crew and to connect with the fans specifically about Gilmore. I know everybody else has signed on, but I just don’t know my schedule right now which kinda sucks.

Gotham airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on Fox.

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