If you watched the season 2 premiere of This Is Us last night, you probably have a million questions about Jack's death. If you didn't watch the premiere, don't worry, because there are no spoilers in this interview. That's because Milo Ventimiglia steadfastly believes that Jack's life is the focus of his story, not his death.
We chatted with the star ahead of the show returning back to NBC. Milo is extremely thoughtful about his character; at one point he says he respects Jack, because he always wants to do the right thing. Jack may not be the crying type, but he feels things just as intensely as the rest of the characters on the show. Ventimiglia talks about how that is by design — Jack is meant to be a calming, unflappable presence for the Pearson family. He didn't cry when the doctor revealed that they'd lost a triplet, he sprang into action by caring for Rebecca and adopting Randall.
Milo also has a secret love for obscure breakfast cereals, and explained that he'd rather talk about Cheerios than spoilers. A show is built with actors, music, setting, costume, and writing — all of these things come together to tell a story designed for maximum emotional impact. Sometimes spoilers ruin that impact. So, cereal it is. Who knew that Milo Ventimiglia was a connoisseur of vintage limited-edition food?
Refinery29: Let’s talk about Jack’s death. Is that even the point of the show? What should we take away from his death?
Milo Ventimiglia: No, it’s not. Don’t focus on how the man died, focus on how he lived, and how he impacted his kids and his marriage.
I think once people discover how and when and why he died, hopefully they can move on from it. It’s like death that happens in our own lives: you have to accept that it happens. And you have to accept that it’s coming and there’s nothing you can do about it. None of us can escape it.
Jack is such a complex character. What do you find the most personally relatable about Jack, or themes that he embodies that has followed you throughout your life?
"I think it’s Jack’s heart. He’s not a perfect man, but he’s a good man. And he tries hard to give people a lot of hope and inspiration, without making it feel like he’s telling them what to do. He’s all about inspiring good, whether he’s good or not. I think his intentions are always right. That’s something I respect about him. I enjoy playing a guy who’s trying to get his kids and marriage everything, even though he’s flawed as a human being."
Sometimes knowing what the right thing to do is really hard, and it drives you crazy and makes you want to cry.
"Jack never cries, and that’s by design. Fogelman and I spoke about it a lot. Everyone else in the show is emotional, but Jack isn’t. He’s an anchor. Someone has to be the anchor. I think about my own parents, I didn’t see my father cry until I was 21. And Jack died well before his kids were that age."
Meanwhile, everyone else is all up in their feelings [laughs] Did you get nervous about accidentally spilling details about Jack’s death?
"No, we [had it] on lock. We’re well-versed in how to talk about it. Someone could ask me a million questions and [instead] I’d talk about the Cheerios that I loved as a kid."
Ha, I haven't eaten Cheerios in forever.
Millienios? No, what is that?
"In the year 1999 going into 2000, [General Mills] had this cereal that was only available [at that time]. They were delicious, oh man."
Are they better than Apple Cheerios?
"Insanely better. They were amazing. It’s like Scooby Snacks ice cream, you can't find it anymore!"
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