‘This Is Us’ Star Justin Hartley Says Season 3 Revelations About Jack’s Time In Vietnam Will Be Shocking

The Pearson patriarch's past in Vietnam will be heavily explored--and it will be heartbreaking.

Milo Ventimiglia
Chris Haston / NBC

The Pearson patriarch's past in Vietnam will be heavily explored--and it will be heartbreaking.

This Is Us fans will be blindsided in Season 3, at least according to the stars of the show. In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, Justin Hartley, who plays Kevin Pearson on the NBC drama, revealed that his character will unearth some upsetting secrets about his late father Jack’s (Milo Ventimiglia) past when he travels to Vietnam with his new girlfriend Zoe (Melanie Liburd).

Hartley told EW that while Kevin is headed to Vietnam for healing over his father’s 1998 death, he will come back with more information than he expected.

“He’s going to get a lot of information, some stuff that he didn’t know and didn’t expect. And it’s going to jar a few things.”

Hartley teased that Kevin will uncover “shocking” and “super heartbreaking” information about his late father’s time overseas during the Vietnam War.

“It’s not what anyone is expecting. No one is going to see it coming. It’s ambitious stuff…. Here’s the cool thing about it: At the end of season 3 when you go back and watch the beginning of the series, you’re going to [be] like, ‘Wow, it all works,’ but you never would see any of this coming. I don’t know what those writers are eating, but it’s brain food. They’re brilliant.”

Justin Hartley’s comments about the Jack Pearson story arc for Season 3 echo those of the man himself, Milo Ventimiglia. In an interview with Gold Derby earlier this year, Ventimiglia said viewers won’t know what hit them when they see the Vietnam storyline play out during the third season of the time-jumping NBC drama.

“Won’t see what’s coming. I’ve spoken a lot with Dan [Fogelman] and the writers before we had our hiatus and even while they’ve been in the room and what I’ve heard of what the third season is, people have an idea and they think they do but man, you have no idea. You won’t see what’s coming.”

At the recent Television Critics Association Sumner Press Tour, This Is Us executive producer Isaac Aptaker revealed a lot of time in Season 3 will be spent in Vietnam exploring Jack Pearson in his 20s. Co-showrunner Elizabeth Berger added that feels “very freeing” to move beyond the mystery of Jack’s death to now “tell a completely different kind of story” about the earlier life of the Pearson patriarch.

“To be all of a sudden be immersed in the Vietnam War, we think it’s going to be really special and really different,” Berger said, per Gold Derby.

For Jack’s Vietnam War storyline, This Is Us producers recruited renowned Vietnam journalist Tim O’Brien as a consultant. O’Brien penned the 1990 short story collection The Things They Carried, according to Deadline.

This Is Us fans know very few details about Jack’s experiences in Vietnam. In the first season of the show, the future Pearson patriarch told his elderly neighbor that he worked as a mechanic in the war, but in a later flashback scene, Jack was seen getting off of a military plane carrying an M-16. It was also later revealed that Jack’s younger brother, Nicky, served in the Vietnam War alongside him, but died there.

At TCA, the This Is Us producers revealed that the role of Nicky has been cast, but did not announce the name of the actor or how many episodes he will be in.

This Is Us returns to NBC on Tuesday, Sept. 25 at 9 p.m.