"Relationship Status" star Milo Ventimiglia on the complexities of online dating
Dating in the digital age is no easy feat. Between mixed messages -- punctuation or lack thereof could make a huge difference in text exchanges -- the abundance of apps promising to match people with their best fit, and navigating the slippery slopes of Facebook, Twitter, and even LinkedIn stalking, there's a lot to get confused by. And whether we like it or not, social media and technology has completely changed the way we find partners.
"Relationship Status," a new series that will arrive on the go90 app on April 29th, captures the ups and downs of modern relationships. Complete with a high-profile ensemble cast, including Shawn Ashmore, Kristen Gutoskie, Brant Daugherty, and Milo Ventimiglia (who also produced the series), "Relationship Status" strikes the perfect balance point of humor and heartbreak, and feels completely authentic. It's this realness that led Ventimiglia to the project in the first place; "This is a great story that's relatable and current."
We recently sat down with the "Relationship Status" star about his attraction to the script, what he feels is the biggest roadblock to dating in the digital world, and the dating app he would love to make.
And don't forget to catch the premiere of "Relationship Status" on April 29th on go90!
What initially drew you to this project?
It was a great script. As a producer and an actor I thought, "This is a great story that's relatable and current." As an actor, I saw all of these great male characters and I was like, "Which one do I want to play!?" And in turn, if I think it's good, folks that I admire as actors will think it's good as well. We were able to get a lot of great actors, men and women to be a part of it. But for me it always starts with the script which Céline Geiger wrote, and it was a beautiful piece of material that turned into a show.
What was the casting process like then for you, since you also produced the series?
I don't want to say we put it to a vote, but I asked the other producers who they wanted me to play. I had my idea of who I would like to play for different reasons. I thought Church was a great character, I thought Peter was a fascinating character and I've always loved Jack. I'm very much a producer that understands that I'm an actor as well. And while someone may want me to jump into a role, if I can get a great actor who can play a part that I want to play, I'd rather bring that actor in. For me, producing is more about the opportunity of creating work than creating work for myself. There was a little bit of a vote where everyone unanimously said that they wanted me to play the gay bartender. And I was like, "Great! It's a great character and I'm honored."
What was the character development process like for you? How did you become Jack?
For Jack it was no different than any other character I've played. It was really just about making him brutally honest and truthful, but making him different. If I'm building a character, I go back to the words on the page and connect with the script to figure out how Jack moves, how he dresses, or how he talks to other people. The script dictates how and who I become as a character.
This series focuses a lot of the dating roadblocks in a digital space. What do you think is the biggest inhibitor for online or app dating?
I think the same thing that makes it great is the largest roadblock: it's this mass market of meeting anyone. You can go through 20 different suitors in a matter of ten seconds just by swiping right or swiping left, which is great because it gives you the opportunity to meet a lot of different people. But at the same time, I think what the digital age and app dating is doing is taking away that magic of being in the moment of locking eyes with someone or spending an hour or two talking. My character actually says "it's a swipers economy" and you can be as choosy as he wants to be. Which I thought was really true since that's how people view it. They're very quick to come to a decision as to wether or not they like someone. For me personally, I feel like I'm a bit older than the age of that believes this is the norm of dating. When I was younger or even in my 20s you had to pick the phone up and call someone or see someone across the room and say, "Wow! I'm going to go meet them and have the courage to introduce myself. And it may crash and burn but at the same time, it may turn into something." I think that's the biggest inhibitor, that people can be very quick to judge.
Shawn [Ashmore] told me you guys were going to make your own dating app!
Yeah! We were goofing around about it. Kristen and Brant who are in the show, talked about bumping into each other on Raya which is a dating app that people use. And it was that question where what do you do if you see someone on the app that you know and you've been friends with. If I say I like you, is that like, "Oh no, Milo likes me and now it's on." What if you're actually friends with someone where you can just say "Hey what up doe?" So that's our app, "What Up Doe". So it's kind of like if you see your friends and you don't like them in a way that you want to hook up with them, but want to say, "I see you and I want to be your friend." And then you like pound fists or something.
That's kind of genius since most of those apps gauge people by distance so you're probably likely to match with a friend.
Those apps are probably good for people who are always on the go. But I don't know, I'm kind of old school.
So you don't have a Tinder profile?
No I don't! It's not the way I operate. No Tinder, Grinder, Raya, or Bumble, none of that. I'm kind of analog.
What do you hope viewers will take away from "Relationship Status?"
I think that with anything I do, I want impact people's lives and help them reflect on their own lives and really think about how these situations -- some that are funny and some that are heartbreaking -- apply to how they approach dating in the digital age. I think the greatest part of storytelling is the way you can impact people in a short amount of time, whether it's a 10 minute video or a two hour movie, you're able to impact how people reflect on their own lives. If I watch a movie or show, I think "What would I do if zombies were running through the streets?" I'm going to get a machete or a samurai swords since that's my choice. I always as an artist, an actor, producer, or story-teller, want to impact people and think about their own lives.
For more on "Relationship Status" watch the video below!