This story about Milo Ventimiglia first appeared in the Down to the Wire issue of TheWrap’s Emmy magazine.
Milo Ventimiglia hogged the tear-jerking moments during the second season of “This Is Us”: It’s hard to think of a more heartbreaking scene than the death of his character, Jack Pearson, and impossible to top the bittersweet dream sequence that showed us what a world with an old Jack would be like. And going into Season 3 — with Jack’s on-screen demise finally behind us — Ventimiglia is ready to flashback and, maybe forward, again.
“It is funny, I have nothing that I look forward to on the show other than just being there,” Ventimiglia said. “It’s one of those jobs that I’m going to compare every other job after this to. And if they were to say, ‘Hey, we’re going back to Old Man Jack,’ great. If they say, ‘We’re going back to you as a 2-year-old, great. We’re going back to Jack as a teenager, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s. Whatever Dan Fogelman or the writers wanna come up with or dream up, I’m happy with it.”
And they have already dreamed up a lot — because pretty much the entire sophomore year of Fogelman’s family drama centered around Jack. That blessing is not lost on Ventimiglia, who recently received his second Emmy nomination for the role.
In particular, the actor found the dream sequence from the Season 2 finale to be a highlight, because it allowed him to work with series stars Chrissy Metz, Justin Hartley and Sterling K. Brown, who play the grown children of Jack and Rebecca (Mandy Moore).
“You know, I don’t get to work with Chrissy or Justin or Sterling or even Susan [Kelechi Watson] or Chris Sullivan, so it was selfishly one of those moments where I thought, ‘Oh, great!,'” said Ventimiglia, who normally appears in flashbacks with younger actors playing the children. “I get to be on the set with the rest of the cast and not be in an urn.
“And also I’ve seen Mandy go through the process of aging makeup and I know how taxing that is for her. So to be right next to her getting my makeup done at the same time, it was like, ‘Oh, this takes several hours. Cool. Right there with ya, right there with ya.’ It was fun.”
The centerpiece of the season, though, was the episode in which we finally see how the family patriarch dies — cardiac arrest due to smoke inhalation after a house fire. But Jack’s death was something Ventimiglia had been ready for since Day 1.
“I didn’t grieve,” he said. “I’m a pretty realistic person. Death is a part of life, as life is a part of death. And with Jack, I knew from the beginning he had a shelf life, that he was going to meet his end in his 50s. We’ve told the stories up until a certain point, and beyond that we have to go in another direction. But that doesn’t change the performance.”
And the performance, he insisted, will continue in subsequent seasons. “We’ve only really known Jack Pearson for 36 hours,” he said, “so there is still a lot more to learn about the man.”
Watch the video interview with Milo Ventimiglia above. To read more of TheWrap’s Down to the Wire issue, click here.