Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers from the This Is Us episode, “Super Bowl Sunday.”
This Is Us viewers finally found out how Jack Pearson died. The Pearson patriarch’s painful death played out on the show’s highly anticipated post- Super Bowl episode titled “Super Bowl Sunday”—and it was indeed devastating.
After last week’s revelation that the Pearson family home caught on fire due to a faulty crockpot, Jack Pearson (Milo Ventimiglia) went into superhero mode and saved his family (and the family dog!) from the raging blaze. But in the end, Jack couldn’t save himself. The massive amount of smoke he inhaled damaged his lungs and caused him to go into cardiac arrest hours later.
While Jack’s moment of death wasn’t shown on camera, This Is Us star Milo Ventimiglia reveals that he shot footage of the painful moment that Rebecca (Mandy Moore) first saw her dead husband lying in the hospital bed after she left him for just a few minutes to make a phone call and get a candy bar. Ventimiglia told Entertainment Weekly Moore did not know that he would be laying in the hospital bed when she shot the scene. The actress reportedly thought she would walk into an empty hospital room.
“I had to lay as still as I could because poor Mandy Moore, she did not know that I was going to be laying there [in the hospital bed],” Ventimiglia told EW.
“She didn’t know that I was going to be there. I think she thought she was walking into a blank room, and walking in on me, not knowing that the shot was also picking up my reflection, dead-still.”
Milo added that he had to play dead for a long time to get through the This Is Us scene. Ventimiglia also hinted that footage from the shoot may be used in later episodes of the NBC drama.
” I’m laying there and I can hear Mandy breaking down and just crumbling, take after take after take,” Milo told EW. “We even filmed bits where she would walk up to me, and I’m just laying there staring at a point on the wall, barely breathing, but having to feel her over me or near me — just losing Jack.”
Milo Ventimiglia also revealed that he thinks his character knew he was going to die during what was his final conversation with his wife. The This Is Us star explained that he thinks Jack wanted to spare his wife the moment of his actual death, so he “waited” until she left the room to pass away.
“I deep-down think maybe he knew and he didn’t want her to have to see that or be around for that,” Milo said. “I do feel like Jack knew something was wrong.”
While shooting the fire scene was difficult, Milo Ventimiglia said it was even harder to make it seem as though Jack was going to live after he emerged from the roaring blaze alive. The This Is Us star said producers instructed him to downplay Jack’s injuries and the effects of the smoke inhalation he endured because they didn’t want to tip viewers off as to how Jack died. The This Is Us star said producers told him not to cough a lot but instead to clear his throat and be “a little more still and focused and almost just distant from what was happening.”
“I know a lot of clearing the throat and coughing didn’t get used because [This Is Us showrunner Dan Fogelman] really didn’t want to tip off that there was something really wrong with his lungs that was sending his heart into cardiac arrest,” Milo explained.
The next This Is Us episode titled “Across the Border” will take place on Jack Pearson’s funeral day. According to IMDB, the synopsis for the “Across the Border” episode is the “history of the Pearsons as told through the life of the family car.”
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.