When Fox's Bones returned from hiatus last Wednesday in its new 9 pm/ET, post-American Idol time slot, the sexy-spooky crime series earned its highest ratings yet. The bad news? It was trounced by the competition but that's what happens when you're up against Lost and Veronica Mars. Bones' Eric Millegan, though, is taking it in stride. And why not? This small-screen newbie has enjoyed incredible luck, snagging the role of boy-genius assistant Zack but three weeks after arriving in Hollywood for his first pilot season. (Other shows he was eyed by include Threshold and Kitchen Confidential; both now RIP.) In keeping with his good fortune, Millegan is betting Bones will make it to March 8, at which time it will switch to a much friendlier 8 pm berth.
TVGuide.com: When you ventured out to Los Angeles last year, did you think things would happen so quickly for you?
Eric Millegan: Well, on the one hand I didn't, but on the other hand I didn't come out here to lose.
TVGuide.com: Prior to 2005, most of your experience was on the East Coast stage. What inspired you to go out West?
Millegan: Having really liked the limited film and TV work I did in New York, I knew I wanted to do more. Then a couple of my costars from On Line, the one movie I did, booked series Harold Perrineau got Lost, and Vanessa Ferlito got CSI: NY. Meanwhile, I made a grand total of $4,000 in 2004. So while I was happy for them, I was like, "Hey, I'm as good an actor as they are. I want a TV show, too!"
TVGuide.com: How did you plan your Hollywood attack?
Millegan: I left the day after Harold and Maude, a musical I was starring in, closed [at New Jersey's Paper Mill Playhouse]. I knew it was pilot season, so I got a one-way ticket and left my long-term partner in New York. I had no real concept of what I was doing. But I knew I had just acted on stage with an Oscar-winner [Estelle Parsons], so I felt confident in my ability. Things started happening really quickly. I got here on a Monday and auditioned for Bones that Thursday. Pretty soon I had the job.
TVGuide.com: Has your life changed a lot since then?
Millegan: Well, I'm working! This is officially the longest I've ever held a job and I don't just mean in show business. People are like, "Wow, it's amazing you booked a series so fast." They think I'm the luckiest actor in L.A. But I really struggled for 10 years. I've paid my dues.
TVGuide.com: For someone who struggled for 10 years, you look barely old enough to shave.
Millegan: I know. The head makeup guy's 9-year-old daughter was on the set the other day and she asked me if I was a grown-up!
TVGuide.com: And are you?
Millegan: Usually. [Laughs] Chronologically, I'm 31.
TVGuide.com: Actors are always complaining that Hollywood is ageist. Does it scare you to be so open about your age when you could pass for someone much younger?
Millegan: That's one thing that I am really proud of. When I got here people were telling me to lie about my age and my sexual orientation I'm gay. But I didn't hide either one and I still got a show and I got a straight role. In fact, every role I auditioned for was straight.
TVGuide.com: Zack does seem to love the ladies. In fact, he seems to have a major crush on his boss, Bones.
Millegan: There is certainly something there.
TVGuide.com: Think maybe she'll end up with Zack instead of David Boreanaz's FBI agent?
Millegan: That would be something! Zack's definitely not in a relationship. In the episode "A Boy in a Tree," he asked the gang for sexual advice because he had slept with Naomi in paleontology but she never called him back.
TVGuide.com: Were you ever as geeky as your TV alter ego?
Millegan: I don't know. I never considered myself a nerd, but others may have. I performed in community theater and was valedictorian of my high school. Does that make me a geek?
TVGuide.com: Definitely. You've done theater your whole life. Do you miss the stage?
Millegan: Yeah, but TV is so much easier. When you do a show, especially a musical, you wake up every morning terrified that your voice won't work. On stage, the audience sees everything. On Bones, I look into the camera and talk. If I mess up, they'll edit it out. Also, TV is way, way, way better paying.
TVGuide.com: What's the feeling on the set regarding Bones' new schedule?
Millegan: Originally, we were supposed to have the Tuesday slot after American Idol that helped make House a hit. I don't want to speak for everybody else in the cast but we were disappointed when we lost that. Oh wait, I did just speak for everybody else. But even though we're on Wednesdays, I still think there's room for our show. We have that American Idol "muscle" before us. That's going to get us more viewers, especially all those people who can't find their remote controls.