Milo Ventimiglia had an emotionally charged second season on “This Is Us”; his acclaimed performance earned him his second consecutive Emmy nomination for outstanding lead actor in a drama series.
And for the actor, there were two scenes that were most intense to film. The first, of course, involved the fire that ultimately killed his character, beloved patriarch Jack Pearson.
“The fire was intense just because it was real fire,” Ventimiglia told TODAY. “It was controlled; it was safe. But yet, instinctively, I was still putting myself in between crew members and kids and all that.”
The second was the scene in the season’s second episode in which Jack has to tell daughter Kate (as a teenager) about his alcoholism. "That was difficult,” he said. "Jack is not an emotional man. He's not one to cry at all. And I think that was one of the hardest moments to not let me personally, my feelings of emotion pop out."
However, there were “many” moments in the show that make the actor himself tear up — Randall’s tearful goodbye to foster daughter Deja, Kate’s miscarriage and Kevin’s downward spiral during a visit to his old high school among them.
Ventimiglia is used to hearing from fans who relate to the show’s raw, realistic storylines.
“I’ve had a lot of people walking up to me, talking to me about their adopted kids and relating to how Jack and Rebecca raised Randall,” he said. “I have a lot of people walking up to me talking about their positive body identity and asking me about Chrissy Metz and the Kate storyline. I have a lot of people telling me how beautiful Justin Hartley is, and I tell them how soulful of an actor he is.”
Ventimiglia says the best thing about the show is “the conversation that started.” He’s touched to know that viewers are seeing their own stories reflected.
“I think that conversation, that way of communicating on our show has helped a lot a people struggle and deal with loss and a lot of other issues,” he added. “It humanizes and popularizes what other people feel the need to kind of push down and not show, especially within their families. So it's a very positive thing, knowing that ‘This is Us’ is causing discussion and helping people that are going through tough times like loss or other problems in life.”
Ventimiglia also opened up about his likes and dislikes when it comes to his own character.
“One of my favorite qualities in Jack is his heart,” he said. “He loves very fully. He loves very deeply. He's a very good guy. The thing that maybe I like least is, I think that first season he had a little bit of jealousy over Rebecca's ambition to perform music and her bandmate. Didn't really care for that. Jack has his flaws as a human being. He's got a lot of struggles, like any of us do. But I appreciate that he tries to the best of his ability to get through them positively, knowing that he can impact his family positively."
We also had to know: If Ventimiglia’s other most famous character — the troubled Jess Mariano from “Gilmore Girls” — had Jack Pearson for a dad, how would he have turned out?
“You know, maybe Jess wouldn't have a pompadour," he said. "He'd have grown a mustache or something like that. But I think Jess would still be Jess. Someone will say something about me and my mom and dad will always say, ‘He was born that way.’ And I always say, ‘No, no, no, I am the way I am because of my mom and dad.’ But yeah, maybe Jess would've been a bit different, but we'll never know.”