It’s been business as usual for Milo Ventimiglia since his Emmy nomination for his role as Jack Pearson on NBC’s breakout hit This Is Us. Ventimiglia has been in the industry for quite some time with a very loyal fan base, but since taking on the role as the Pearson family patriarch the spotlight on him has certainly escalated and the attention that comes with a first time Emmy nomination is something that’s completely new to him.
“The fact that we’re actually in production right now is great, because I get to focus on the work,” Ventimiglia said during an exclusive interview with ET.
Any fan of the kind, talented, and charismatic Ventimiglia knows that he becomes completely invested and dedicated to his craft, so of course, being recognized only pushes him to want to be better.
“It strangely feels like the bar has been set and then the floor fell out from underneath me. And so the only way to go is up. I just have to make the work better, and in my mind, I equate the two to making the man I’m playing more real. Experiencing him at such a level that no one could believe that that’s an actor putting on a costume and saying words that he’s been told to say.”
The Emmy nomination put a lot of things into perspective to Ventimiglia, not only just for him as an actor, but how he portrays the character of Jack who many have put on such a high pedestal that it’s often hard for them to take watching him mess up at all. While it’s easy for fans to focus on his beautiful speeches to his children or his grand romantic gestures to Rebecca, it can’t be forgotten that he had an extremely flawed relationship with his father, served in the Vietnam War, struggles with alcohol and is struggling in his marriage.
“As an actor, I’ll go to the ends of the Earth for this guy. There’s still so much to understand, so many stories to tell of this man that could absolutely fill up seven seasons of the series,” he says, which is a relief to fans who worry that once the show touches on his death or reaches that point in the timeline that he won’t be on the show anymore.
When it came time to reflect on Jack’s first season journey it was the season finale titled “Moonshadow” that proved to be the perfect culmination of everything that Jack Pearson was. It was the episode that Ventimiglia submitted for Emmy consideration and rightfully so.
“It showed a young, hopeful man and it showed a broken man,” Ventimiglia says. “Jack is not the most vulnerable of characters; he’s usually very stoic. But in that episode, we see him break. You really see the crack and the fracture, the moment he may fall apart. I thought that was just a good display of who this man is, and to be honest, I had never felt more connected to who that character was than that episode.”
The most heart-wrenching scene from the episode was, of course, the fight between Jack and Rebecca that leads them to their decision to separate. It was intense and it was raw and a true testimony to the powerhouse duo that is Milo Ventimiglia and Mandy Moore.
“That was like doing a play. Mandy and I did it over and over and over again, knowing that that may be the one take that they were going to use,” he said. “There were some takes where, man, they were vicious, what Mandy was saying to me and what I was saying to Mandy.”
It was absolutely a great decision to submit that episode, but like Ventimiglia points out there were a number of moments throughout the first season that could have been submitted.
“I don’t know that there is one moment in what I’ve done as Jack that would give someone the desire to say, ‘That’s nomination-worthy, but I think there’s a sentiment to what people feel for Jack and what Jack represents. He’s a good man who does his best, and I think that is constantly something we all strive for. It feels less of what I’m doing and more what the character represents.”
In addition to his nomination for the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series category, which includes his co-star and last year’s Emmy winner (for The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story) Sterling K. Brown, the series picked up four other nominations including Best Supporting Actress for Chrissy Metz and Outstanding Drama series. However, many people took notice when Mandy Moore did not receive a nomination for her role as Rebecca Pearson even though she was nominated for a Golden Globe. Ventimiglia was certainly part of that group.
“It upsets me, but it also strangely affirms that the awards don’t mean anything. They do and they don’t,” Ventimiglia says, as he defends his TV wife on off-screen friend “People must be blind because I see [her performance] all the time. For people not to see it and not see this living, breathing woman brought to life by Mandy, I think, is horrible. But I said to her, ‘Look, I got this one. You got the last one. You get the next one.’”
Moore clearly feels the same way.
— Mandy Moore (@TheMandyMoore) August 22, 2017
One of the best parts about Milo’s performance on the show is just how flawlessly he falls into his character and his connection to Jack is something that he touched on in the interview.
“He’s the closest thing to maybe what I know of myself. I’m really attached to Jack, and it’s going to be pretty painful when I gotta let him go. But that’s OK. Every job ends, every person dies. There’s a level of acceptance where you have to move on and move forward, but I’m enjoying — dammit, I’m enjoying being Jack.”
We enjoy you being Jack too, Milo so let’s not be throwing the “d” word around just yet, ok? You can catch Milo as Jack Pearson on This Is Us on NBC this fall and can see his first ever Emmy Awards appearance on September 17th on CBS.