Milo Ventimiglia is spilling the secrets behind filming Sunday night’s epic, emotional post-Super Bowl episode of “This Is Us”.
In a post-show interview with Esquire, the 40-year-old actor reflects on the harrowing episode and looks ahead to his role on the show.
Spoilers for “This Is Us” ahead!
The episode, which was the most tweeted of the show to date with over 267 thousand tweets, finally revealed how Ventimiglia’s character Jack died: not in the house fire sparked by the crock-pot, but due to a heart attack caused by smoke inhalation from the fire.
Ventimiglia told Esquire about how he first learned that his character would die.
“I found out pretty early on, maybe in the middle of the first season,” he said. “Mandy [Moore] and I were on set and [showrunner Dan Fogelman] came over to talk to us and explained that it was a house fire, but we didn’t know how or when or why.”
There was also the massive secrecy involved in keeping the details of Jack’s fate hidden from the audience.
“We slowly learned about these other little things—Randall’s girlfriend, Kevin’s broken leg, Kate’s dog—that were going to tip off the audience, and once we got into the second season, it was kind of a harrowing thing to just keep everything under wraps,” Ventimiglia explained. “It became Fort Knox secrecy: photocopy-proof scripts, code words, secret locations. And we really couldn’t talk about it outside the company.”
Speaking about his character’s death, Ventimiglia said that the biggest emotions he felt were for his character’s family. “I get emotional over Rebecca, and the kids,” he said. “Crying for Jack would seem a bit ridiculous because I exist as him and I wouldn’t cry for myself. But understanding the impact that Jack had on his family, that’s where I personally get the most emotional. Everyone loved the question of why Jack died, but I think the most interesting part of the episode is how it impacted these four individuals.”
The actor also talked about honestly depicting a character suffering from alcoholism.
“I’ve seen people who are drunk and you wouldn’t even know it until you stand close enough and you start to see it. If you ‘take the edge off’ all day, as we saw with Jack in our first episode of this season, it’s going to accumulate, and everything’s going to slow down at a certain point,” Ventimiglia said. “For me, the key was being honest about what that disease is, how it grips an alcoholic, and how it completely shatters everything around them.”
As for what his future on “This Is Us” looks like now that his character has met his end, Ventimiglia points to the many timelines on the show as opportunities to further explore what made Jack into the man he was.
“There are so many questions with Jack. His upbringing, what happened to him in Vietnam, what happened to him after Vietnam before he met Rebecca? And those early days of Jack and Rebecca, I know is an era that Dan is excited to explore,” Ventimiglia said.
“His brother, I think, is something that’s going to come up relatively quickly, and play out over the next season or so. There’s still so much to know about this man, from all the eras, so I’m excited to focus on how Jack lived as opposed to worrying about how he died.”