Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera.
In this week’s episode, Variety‘s executive editor of TV, Debra Birnbaum, talks with Milo Ventimiglia, who plays one of America’s favorite patriarchs, Jack Pearson, on NBC’s hit family drama “This Is Us.”
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As the Emmy nominee has already wrapped filming the first episode of Season 3, he notes that playing Jack has only become more instinctual and easier as time has gone on, likening the role to putting on a “comfy old jacket.”
“I’ve been on a lot of sets, and this feels like the most encouraging set of artists that are really wanting each of us to do well,” he says.
Papa Pearson is also glad to be moving on from the mystery of Jack’s death that haunted the first two seasons of the series. “I’m happy that that story is told because I think people needed to know,” he says.
And while mysteries may be at the crux of the show, Ventimiglia himself is very aware of what’s coming up for his character throughout this season.
“I know it all,” he says, “but script to script, I’m learning the little things, the little moments that collectively make up the larger pieces of who Jack is in whatever time we’re discussing–whether it’s Vietnam and his experience there and for the audience learning about his brother or maybe an early courtship of Jack and Rebecca.”
Audiences will find versions of Jack’s story this season in time periods spanning the 60s through the 90s, in addition to more appearances from “Future Jack.”
“I already know a couple of moments where I’m with the adult ‘Big Three’ this year,” he teases.
But Ventimiglia also reveals that he “selfishly” wants more of those future scenes in order to spend time with his adult co-stars, with “Justin [Hartley] and Sterling [K. Brown] and Chrissy [Metz] and hopefully someday maybe Chris Sullivan and Susan [Kelechi Watson].”
“That’s been the biggest heartbreak with the show is my experience through the character is limited to the time he was alive,” he says.
He also previews that the flash forward to Kevin (Hartley) flying to Vietnam is definitely because of his father. “I don’t think he’s going for vacation,” Ventimigilia jokes.
He is looking forward to finding out more about Jack’s past, the “bad” that he was facing when he was a young man. “What happened to him in his past that allowed him to say, ‘I’m choosing to be good?’ How does the good come from so much against him?'”
And although he admits that Jack’s darker periods with drinking were his least favorite and most painful to work through and shake off at the end of the day, both he and co-star Mandy Moore adore playing the lighter moments of the 80s.
“We definitely like Jack and Rebecca in the 80s. I call him ‘Mustache Jack,'” he says. “‘Mustache Jack’ is ‘Fun Dad.'”
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|Milo Ventimiglia photographed exclusively for the Variety Remote Controlled Podcast
Dan Doperalski for Variety