This Is Us fans know very little about Jack Pearson’s past as a soldier in Vietnam, but that is about to change. In a new interview with People, This Is Us star Milo Ventimiglia revealed that Jack’s experiences in Vietnam will be a major storyline for the third season of the NBC drama—and that means viewers will see a lot more of the Pearson patriarch in his early 20s, sans mustache. Ventimiglia told People:
“We’re definitely going to see Jack in the Vietnam era. At the end of the Super Bowl episode when people were ultimately confronted with how he passed away, there was a trailer to show Jack in a helicopter over Vietnam in uniform. We’re going to explore that side of Jack’s 20s and what brought him into the man that we all knew.”
Ventimiglia, whose own father is a real-life Vietnam veteran, will begin shooting scenes detailing Jack’s past as a military veteran starting in July. But for now, he’s still trying to convince This Is Us fans that his character really died after that Crock-Pot fire in 1998.
“People still are saying to me, ‘You’re not really dead, are you?” the This Is Us star revealed. “They’re still constant.”
This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman previously told reporters that a big part of the show’s third season will be devoted to exploring Jack and his wife Rebecca’s (Mandy Moore) lives before they met each other. Fogelman also teased flashback stories that will include Jack’s time stationed in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. According to Deadline, Fogelman even revealed that Season 3 is “a big Vietnam season for us. Milo will get a real showcase as younger Jack and there will be more Jack and Rebecca origin stories.”
This Is Us viewers have seen small glimpses of Jack Pearson’s Vietnam past. In the Season 1 finale, Jack told a neighbor he was a mechanic in Vietnam. But in Season 2, Jack was seen in full soldier regalia departing a military helicopter. Viewers also saw a photo of Jack that was taken when he was stationed in the military with his brother Nicky by his side. It was later revealed that Nicky died, presumably during the war.
“War is horrible, and if you’re right there in the middle of it to see the atrocities, you can’t not be impacted by it,” Ventimiglia told Entertainment Weekly last year. “So only getting a glimpse of Jack hopping out of a helicopter, looking like he’s in the s—, he wasn’t just a mechanic. Or he was just a mechanic. But also, I think Jack in his younger years saying he was just a mechanic is just a way to put off other questions, because Jack had adjusted his own perspective on life post-war and moved forward.”
The This Is Us Season 2 finale teased Jack’s son Kevin (Justin Hartley) on a journey to Vietnam, seemingly to learn more about his late father’s time serving in the war. Ventimiglia told Esquire that despite his own character’s untimely death, there’s plenty of story left for Jack Pearson on This Is Us, and he promised viewers will soon find out what happened to his character in Vietnam before he met Rebecca. In addition, Milo said the story of Jack’s mysterious brother “is something that’s going to come up relatively quickly, and play out over the next season or so.”
You can see Milo Ventimiglia talking about Jack’s service in Vietnam in the video below.
This Is Us returns to NBC for Season 3 this fall.