"This job feels like it's important, necessary work," says Milo Ventimiglia. He's talking about his role on the über-successful This Is Us, the NBC show that, put simply, chronicles the life of an average American family as seen through different time periods.
Playing Jack Pearson, the handsome, loving family patriarch, Ventimiglia stars opposite Mandy Moore. The actress returns to the small screen as Rebecca Pearson, Jack's wife and the mother of their triplets—one of whom is adopted (and black).
Although cautious not to reveal any plot points, Ventimiglia confirms that (spoiler alert, in case you've been living under a rock) the eventual death of his character will not prevent him from staying on as a full-time cast member during seasons two and three (which have already been confirmed).
Warning us that the upcoming last two episodes of this season will certainly be tearjerkers, Ventimiglia sits down with us following his appearance on the BUILD Series hosted live at the BUILD Studio to chat about his devotion to the show, working with the kids on the cast and thatother defining role of his (cough Gilmore Girls cough).
The last episode of this season will air in two weeks. When will you start filming season two?
I don't think we go back until around July.
Have you seen any of the scripts yet?
No, but [series creator] Dan Fogelman has kept the actors very up to date on what he's thinking in terms of arcs for the second and third seasons. We have a good understanding and a road map of where we're going to go. Of course, it could change in specifics and details.
We know your character dies. Will we see you in the upcoming seasons?
Oh yeah, I'll be there. Even when you do find out how Jack died, it doesn't mean that Milo the actor is off the show. It just means we're telling different stories with Jack.
Playing Jess Mariano on Gilmore Girls was another defining role for you. Do you find yourself to be more similar to Jess or Jack?
When I was younger, I was probably a little more in line with Jess. Now that I'm older, I'm more in line with Jack. I always liked that Jess was intellect driven. I didn't really care for his approach in dealing with people. I thought it was a little mean-spirited at times. But a lot of that was his upbringing and his programming. He was a kid who had kind of an out-there mom, and his dad wasn't around. And what do you do when your dad isn't around and you're as smart as Jess? You rebel. [But now] I feel very connected to who Jack is as a man.
Given the way that This Is Us is structured, you spend most of your on-screen time with the actors who play your kids when they're young. How is it working with them?
The kids are so great, and they're all very different. The 8-year-olds are precocious and fierce and still kids: They want to kind of goof off and play, but then they switch over to this professional side of learning their lines and knowing their lines and delivering these amazing emotional performances. But then you look at the teenage [actors] and they are very different. They're more quiet and reserved and thoughtful, and you could tell they're really soaking in the experience of being on this set.... They're like sponges, just taking in the experience, whereas the little ones are still a little more like kids.
Which you want them to be at times.
That's the thing: I try and always keep it fun. I'll sit and do homework with the 8-year-olds if I need to or have a talk with them. I just want to be around them and say, "Hey, do you need anything? Call me!"
Is there anything about the show that surprised you in terms of the kind of response it received?
Other jobs I have done, I felt like I was entertaining. This job feels like it's important, necessary work. It feels like something that the world needs. [We have] the far left and the far right politically, racially, in any kind of religion, socioeconomic [status], sexual preference: It feels like a show that's inclusive of all, hopeful and inherently good [is what we need] right now. We need displays of kindness and affection and family and knowing that we are all different and in our differences we are actually a better world and if we can just have a little sympathy and camaraderie and find commonality, then hopefully we'll be a little better.