‘This Is Us’ Turns To Renowned Vietnam Journalist Tim O’Brien For Help With Jack’s Season 3 Storyline

Evan AgostiniAP Images

This Is Us has added a renowned Vietnam journalist as a consultant for the show’s third season. Tim O’Brien, who penned the 1990 short story collection The Things They Carried, will join the hit NBC drama as a consultant for Jack Pearson’s (Milo Ventimiglia) Vietnam War storyline, Deadline reports.

O’Brien’s collection of semi-autobiographical stories inspired by his experiences in Vietnam was a Pulitzer Prize finalist and is considered a Vietnam War classic. The author, who was drafted during the Vietnam War and served from 1969 to 1970, has been a “writing hero” of This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman since his college days. The This Is Us showrunner revealed that he wrote countless papers on The Things They Carried when he was in school.

“It was incredibly intimidating bringing him into our room to discuss a Vietnam plot line – and it was even more rewarding,” Fogelman said of O’Brien. “I’ve never said this before, but I can’t wait to be rewritten by him.”

This Is Us fans know few details about Jack’s Vietnam past. In the first season of the show, Jack told his elderly neighbor, Mrs. Peabody, that he worked as a mechanic in the war. But in a subsequent flashback scene, Jack was seen getting off of a military plane carrying an M-16, revealing that his service in the war was far more front-line than he originally let on. In a later This Is Us episode, it was revealed that Jack’s younger brother, Nicky, died in the Vietnam War.

This Is Us star Milo Ventimiglia says his character is “holding on to a lot” after seeing the atrocities of the war first hand.

“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.” Ventimiglia told Entertainment Weekly last year. “It’s nothing anyone can ever expect to have, but Jack was fortunate enough to have a clean perspective moving forward and manage whatever emotional distress he experienced while he was over in Vietnam.”

The Season 2 finale of This Is Us showed Jack’s son, Kevin (Justin Hartley), headed to Vietnam with his new girlfriend Zoe (Melanie Liburd) in search of clues about his father’s time in the military. Now, with the addition of Tim O’Brien as a consultant to the show’s writing team, it is clear that This Is Us is about to dive deep into Jack’s Vietnam past.

Take a look at the video below to see Milo Ventimiglia talking about exploring Jack’s Vietnam days.

This Is Us returns to NBC this fall.