“Jess was a child,” the This Is Us alum, 45, said during a Wednesday, February 15, interview with InStyle. Although Ventimiglia doesn’t think the fictional teen always acted with maturity, he does have empathy for him.
“I think Jess had a lot of life to live. And I don’t think he was quite set up the best way in his younger years — not having a father, not having a parent. He had to find his way on his own a little bit,” the California native explained. “And I think he got to it a little quicker, just a place of … acceptance of who he was, and what he wanted to be, and who he wanted to be around.”
The Emmy nominee reprised his role in the 2016 miniseries Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. In the reboot, Jess acts as a voice of reason for his old flame Rory Gilmore (Alexis Bledel) and encourages her to write a book.
“I think things are complicated when you’re young,” the Opposite Sex alum said of the teen characters. “I think you’re going through a developmental change. You are seeing things in the world that you’ve never seen before. You’re experiencing things from the heart, from the gut, from the head, that you’re experiencing for the first time.”
He continued: “So, I think Jess and Rory, I think they were what they needed from the moment, from each other and at the same time, it didn’t work out. They went in different directions. And that’s OK too. That’s kind of great.”
Ventimiglia and Bledel, 41, had an offscreen romance as well, dating from 2002 to 2006. The Rocky Balboa actor also dated his Heroes costar Hayden Panettiere from 2007 to 2009.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants actress, for her part, married Vincent Kartheiser in 2014 and the pair welcomed a son the following year. In August 2022, the Mad Men alum, 43, filed for divorce. The actors finalized their divorce later that month.
Bledel and Kartheiser had not made a public appearance together in “years” at the time of their split, a source exclusively revealed to Us Weekly in September 2022, noting that growing distance “certainly played a part” in their decision to separate.
“They didn’t have a huge circle of friends but they both made up for it with very thriving and busy careers — almost to a fault,” the insider added at the time. “Vincent has always been a little bit of a lone wolf and he’s going to benefit from time on his own.”
Although Bledel didn’t end up with Ventimiglia — either on or off screen — the exes wish each other well. When the Tuck Everlasting actress won an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series in 2017 for her work on The Handmaid’s Tale, her former costar sang her praises.
“I’m very happy for her. She’s always been a great actor,” Ventimiglia told The Daily Dish in September 2017 of Bledel’s win.