Oliver Hudson has quite a fish story. The 41-year-old son of Goldie Hawn and Hudson Brothers singer Bill Hudson has revealed that he read for the part of Jack Pearson on This Is Us and got pretty far in the audition process. Oliver was even invited back to do a screen test alongside leading lady Mandy Moore, but he passed. During a recent interview on the Ladygang podcast, Hudson talked about his missed chance to play the Pearson patriarch on the hit NBC drama.
“I went in and read, and it went very well,” Oliver told the podcast. “They wanted me to come and do a chemistry read with Mandy Moore.”
But Hudson had his eye on a bigger catch, so he bailed on the follow-up audition.
“This will tell you how much I love to fish,” Hudson said.
“I had a 10-day fishing trip planned. It’s my life! Fishing is a big part of my life and it was this 10-day fishing trip and my agent says, ‘We have to test, and they really like you, and this, this and that.’ And I said, ‘Ooh, I’m supposed to go on a fishing trip’… And he’s like, ‘Ok, yeah … so? I mean, this is a big thing.’ And I said ‘You know what? I’m going to do my fishing trip.'”
While he skipped the This Is Us chemistry read to do his work on a fishing boat, Hudson admitted he knew the show was going to be a hit when he read the first script.
“I rarely like anything, but I read it and I was like, ‘This is really good,'” Oliver said. “I thought it was very well written and new and a little different. Interesting.”
Oliver Hudson missed out on the role of a lifetime, but it opened the door for Milo Ventimiglia to change the way This Is Us producers envisioned Jack Pearson. According to Entertainment Weekly, This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman’s original vision for the Jack Pearson character was a “doughier” actor to play a regular-guy type. Fogelman did not initially create Jack to be “as dreamy and handsome” as Ventimiglia, but the Gilmore Girls alum won casting directors over after he showed up at his meeting with long hair, a beard, and a motorcycle helmet in hand.
Ventimiglia later revealed he knew he wasn’t what This Is Us producers were originally looking for.
“Apparently I wasn’t who they were looking for,” Milo said during Variety’s Actors on Actors series last year. “They wanted somebody completely different. I walked in with my beard and my long hair and set my motorcycle helmet down and they went, ‘Who is this guy?”… I think they just saw something different than someone who had practiced the words, and they picked me.”
At the time of his This Is Us audition, Ventimiglia was rebounding from two other failed TV opportunities so he decided to grow his hair out because he had no idea what his next role would be.
Of course, This Is Us fans could never imagine anyone other than Milo Ventimiglia in the role of Jack Pearson. And while This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman originally envisioned a more average-looking actor in the role of the Pearson patriarch, when he paired Milo with Mandy Moore he knew he had a winning combination.
“I knew the cast was going to kill before we shot a frame [of film],” Fogelman told NPR. “The actors are so truthful, it feels real.”
As for Oliver Hudson, he went on to land a co-starring role on the ABC sitcom Splitting Up Together.
This Is Us returns to NBC this fall.