‘This Is Us’: Milo Ventimiglia Talks Jack’s Role Post-Death & That Shocking Randall Twist
This Is Us returns just two days after that milestone Super Bowl episode, and there definitely hasn’t been enough recovery time for what’s on the horizon.
As teased in Sunday night’s promo, the Pearson family will be holding Jack’s (Milo Ventimiglia) funeral with a special visit from Dr. K (Gerald McRaney). The silver lining is that the episode will also feature a version of Jack who is very much alive.
We spoke to Milo Ventimiglia about his character’s role going forward since—SPOILER ALERT—he died in Sunday’s episode. When TV Insider asked the actor if fans could expect to see more of the Pearson patriarch, he laughed and said, “Yes, yes, yes.”
“With the bad, there is the good in this Tuesday’s episode,” he continued. “I think, as much as there is a somber tone of anyone experiencing a funeral, there is a lot of lightness that is balanced in and around the family in younger times.”
How might this lightness manifest, you ask? Well, according to Ventimiglia, it’s not what you’d expect. Apparently, the lighter moments will be “revolving around the family car.” That might sound odd, but it wouldn’t be the first time This Is Us took something that simple and made it significant and emotionally-charged—just look at William’s stray cat, Clooney.
And as difficult as it is to imagine the rest of the Pearson family carrying on without their devoted father, there is one truth we’re already aware of: They go on to lead somewhat successful lives after the loss. “They are a great fun group,” the 40-year-old gushed of the Big 3, “who have had some heavy times but they also know how to laugh.”
While there’s no sugarcoating the harsh reality of the impending funeral, Ventimiglia promises that Jack’s presence will still be felt when he’s on- and off-screen, even in future timelines. That’s right, future timelines. In Sunday’s episode, the writers managed to pull off yet another shocking twist by introducing a timeline set in the future, featuring Randall and his daughter Tess, who goes on to become a social worker.
“You know, [Dan] Fogelman had been wanting to do that since the pilot,” Ventimiglia revealed. “He’s been wanting to jump several years into the future to explore what a member of the Pearson family would be like, that maybe we wouldn’t expect to see. And I knew from what he had said [that] it was always one of Randall’s children.”
To think it was planned out from the very beginning makes us curious to see what else the writers might have up their sleeve. Of the reveal, the Gilmore Girls alum said, “To be able to get to that point when we had known about it for so long was an incredibly satisfying [thing]. Even down to the same Sid Khosla score that we did in the pilot, where you learn Jack and Rebecca are the Big 3’s parents.”
As to likelihood that we’ll see Jack in these flash forwards, Ventimiglia believes the possibilities are endless. “Knowing anything about Fogelman’s storytelling, and the history of our show in the past where I have appeared with characters that I am not in the same timeline, it’s very possible and incredibly likely that you may see a version of Jack interact again with his kids—at what age, that’s undefined—but it’s absolutely a possibility.”
It’s chances like these time jumps that give the cast the opportunity to interact with those from different timelines—which is something the actor relishes. “You know, whenever I hear rumors or words from the writers that they’re gonna cross Jack and Randall or Jack and Kevin or Jack and William, oh man, those are–I guess, like any other day on this show–days that I really look forward to.”
And if you’re still worried that you won’t see enough Jack going forward, heed these words: “I remind people that they’ve only known this man and this family for a little over 30 hours, so there’s still a lot to discover. Knowing just one storyline and being able to move on from that, doesn’t diminish any other stories or experiences. There are going to be a lot of other questions with regards to Jack.”
This Is Us, Tuesdays, 9/8c, NBC