AUSTIN, Texas — At the ATX TV Festival “This Is Us” panel, NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke and executive producer/director Ken Olin were onstage with star Milo Ventimiglia (Jack Pearson) at the ATX TV Festival panel, but most of the questions were directed at fan favorite Ventimiglia.
Here’s what we learned during the Ventimiglia lightning round:
• The scenes that made him cry was William’s passing and Kate’s drum circle emotional breakdown.
• His favorite scene to film was the long Jack/Rebecca fight in the season finale. Ventimiglia said it was one of the most satisfying scenes and praised Ken Olin’s direction. “He gave each of us our valued space,” he said.
• His favorite fan theory about how Jack died: Miguel killed him.
• His most memorable fan interaction: a fan who had adopted a boy came up to Ventimiglia and told him that her husband was having trouble getting along with the boym but then they watched “This Is Us” together and the Jack/Randall story really helped the dad. “Then she showed me a photo of her husband and the boy and I just tried to hold it together,” said Ventimiglia.
Also memorable, on his way to ATX with Salke, Ventimiglia was surrounded by a group of women on their way to a bachelorette party. He stopped to take photos with the women, which made Salke say to him, “You’re the dream dad and husband!”
• Ventimiglia recalled one of his favorite moments at a prep meeting for the Television Critics Association tour. He jokingly asked Salke about season two, and then she called the entire cast into her office and told them the show was being picked up for two more seasons. Ventimiglia treasures that moment because the cast got to experience it together.
• Asked if knowing Jack Pearson doesn’t live to old age changes the way he plays the role, Ventimiglia was firm. “No. Jack lives in the moment and that’s what I do in my life,” he said. “Jack really loves his wife and his kids. He sometimes makes bad decisions, but he lives in the moment.”
“This Is Us” resumes production in July and returns to the NBC schedule this fall.