Sylvester Stallone is heading to “This Is Us” — and fans can thank Milo Ventimiglia for making it happen.
During Thursday’s session for “This Is Us” at the Television Critics Association summer press tour, currently underway in Beverly Hills, showrunner Dan Fogelman revealed the “Rocky”/”Rambo” action hero will be guest-starring in the show’s second season in a multi-episode story arc.
Stallone will be playing… Sylvester Stallone, movie star, in a storyline that finds actor Kevin Pearson (Justin Hartley) starring opposite his Hollywood idol in a movie.
Speaking to reporters after the session, “This Is Us” star Milo Ventmiglia explained that it was his relationship with Stallone that sealed the deal, as the two had appeared together in 2006’s “Rocky Balboa” and have remained friendly over the years.
“There’s a movie idol that Justin’s character is going to be working with, and when I heard what the episode was going to be, they just kind of looked at me and said, ‘Someone like Sly.’ And I said, ‘Cool.’ And they go, ‘Do you think he’d do it?’ And I go, ‘I don’t know.’ And they just kept looking at me. And I’m like, ‘Oh, you want me to call him,” said Ventimiglia.
“The nice thing is this. I did ‘Balboa’ a long time ago… he was my film idol as a kid. But every time I saw him, he’d be like, ‘Hey kid, how you doin’? Good to see you, what’s goin’ on? Call me any time,’” he continued.
“Like that’s how he always was with me, and always is with me, so I felt comfortable reaching out to him and just saying, ‘Hey, I wanna talk to you about my show.’ Because when I had bumped into him at different events or Golden Globes or things like that, a) he would always say how proud he was, and b) we would just fall right back into the conversation that we had just as two guys who spent time together on a set,” recalled Ventimiglia.
“But he always reaffirmed, ‘Call me if you need anything.’ And I basically just called with, ‘Hey, here’s something that might be fun. And I’m sorry that you and I aren’t going to get a lot of screen time together, but I want you to know how much this impacts my character.’ Because if you imagine Sylvester Stallone is Kevin’s movie idol, it’s gotta come from somewhere. Maybe that was dad’s movie idol. Maybe dad had some pretty tough times and always goes back to that underdog story in ‘Rocky’, so I think seeing the parallels and all of that.”
So, says Ventimiglia, “I picked the phone up and called him. He was very engaged and receptive and excited. The emails went back and forth. He still remains one of the funniest, most terribly intelligent men that I’ve ever known.”
Although he won’t be sharing scenes with Stallone (Ventimiglia’s character, in the present timeline, is already dead), Ventimiglia added that he’s excited about having him on the show. “I had an amazing time being with him on set 13 years ago, and I’m just so thankful that I’ll be sharing a call sheet with him again,” he shared.