Milo Ventimiglia knows you’re worried about the future of his This is Us character, Jack Pearson—sadly, fans of the show already know the man doesn’t live to see his three kids graduate high school—but he’s hoping you’ll get to see a lot more of his past. In a new interview posted by People, Milo Ventimiglia says he would like to see more of Jack’s younger years before he met his future wife, Rebecca (Mandy Moore), and decades before he met his maker.
“I would love to explore that era of Jack when he was a young man in Vietnam,” Ventimiglia told interviewer Jess Cagle.
“I feel like there’s 50-some years of this man’s life and we’ve only seen 18 hours of it.”
Milo Ventimiglia has long advised This Is Us fans to focus on his character’s life and not his untimely death. In the first season finale, viewers got a big piece of the Pearson dad’s past with a look back at his clean-shaven postwar days as a handyman and car mechanic. Ventimiglia said he always knew his character was a war veteran, even before the fact was introduced in the season finale episode, “Moonshadow.”
“Before the conversation even came up about Jack’s real history — even outside of his bad childhood with his father — in my mind, I’d always seen Jack as a Vietnam vet,” Milo revealed.
Ventimiglia added that in real life, his own father served in the Vietnam War and that helped to inspire him as to how to portray Jack Pearson, a man who, like his own dad, presented himself as “put-together,” but definitely was affected and impacted by his experiences in Vietnam.
Milo, who already knows exactly when and how his character dies on This Is Us, told People he sees a transformation in “the depth” that the Pearson patriarch has and how he “gets deeper into the sense of responsibility that I need to raise this family, support this family, maybe even die for this family.”
This Is Us’ time-jumping them had brought viewers to several decades, and it’s all by design. Executive producer Ken Olin told the Hollywood Reporter there’s a lot of territory to cover with Milo Ventimiglia’s character and the rest of the cast’s pasts. Olin said the Vietnam storyline and Jack’s ill-fated poker game with a group of thugs who later beat him up and robbed him happened for a reason.
“It was a significant part of Jack’s character, his life,” Olin said of the Vietnam era.
“We have introduced it and we don’t introduce things that are not going to play a role in these people’s lives. The things that resonate in our characters’ past lives, we honor and we’ll pay attention to at some point.”
While Milo Ventimiglia wants to revisit the late 1960s/early 1970s for Jack’s war days, he also wants resolution after the blowout fight his character had with his wife at the end of the show’s first season. The last image viewers had of Ventimiglia’s character was the This Is Us dad walking out the door after Rebecca suggested they live apart for a while. The era was the mid-to-late 1990s, which would have Jack in his early 50s. Knowing that the character dies sometime during that era, some fans fear Papa Pearson may never walk back into the family home again. But Milo Ventimiglia holds out hope the man will live to work things out with his wife.
“I’m wanting to get back to Jack in his 50s, having walked out the door stepping away from his marriage for a second to go sleep on Miguel’s couch,” Milo revealed.
“Just to know how he can get his family back on track. Seeing Jack and Rebecca in disrepair breaks my heart, too, and so I’m looking forward to getting back to the ’90s.”
Milo Ventimiglia returns to This Is Us September 26 at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.
[Featured Image by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for City Year Los Angeles]