This Is Us’ Milo Ventimiglia: ‘The Line Between’ Myself and Jack Is ‘Blurry’

Take two! The cast of This Is Us is officially back on set, which means more tears are on the way. Milo Ventimiglia opened up about playing Jack Pearson — and filming the character’s death — ahead of the new episodes.

“I’ve known about how Jack’s passing happens and when and why and all of that,” the Heroes alum, 40, exclusively tells Us Weekly.

“For me, there is no preparation other than learning the lines and being open to the experience that you’ve going to have when you get on set,” he adds. “Thankfully, [creator] Dan Fogelman and all of our writers are all so crazy talented that it really is as easy as just learning the lines. The words kind of speak for themselves.”

Earlier this month, Ventimiglia scored his first-ever Emmy nomination in the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series category for his work on This Is Us. He may be best known for playing bad boy Jess Mariano on Gilmore Girls, but the California native says he relates most to the Pearson patriarch.

“People closest to to me tells me that that character may be the closest to who I am and I don’t think that’s untrue. Jack tries to be a good man, I try to be a good man. Jack tries to inspire, I try to inspire. Jack is fiercely protective, I’m fiercely protective. The line between character and person, the line between Jack and Milo is blurry,” he says. “It’s not a good line, but at the same time he’s a character, he’s imaginary, so it’s just my job to bring him to life. He’s a very fun man to play, I enjoy it. I like that he does good, he tries to do good. I try to do the same thing!”

Milo Ventimiglia as Jack on This Is Us.
Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Indeed, Ventimiglia takes time to give back offscreen, too. The actor recently teamed with Allergan for #EyePic, a new social media campaign to fight against preventable vision loss in the U.S. “A lot of us don’t really think about that and we take it for granted a lot of the time,” he tells Us. “For me, I wanted to make sure that I was promoting something that was good. I was doing something that was giving back. You have to get your eyes checked. There are some pretty serious things that we can’t diagnosis ourselves so just reminding people that this is a good thing to do and partnering with Allergan on it was the right thing to do.”

For more with Ventimiglia, read the rest of his Q&A below:

US: Did you audition with Mandy Moore?

MV: Mandy and I did test together and it was undeniable how great she was and I think how real the characters of Jack and Rebecca were to the two of us. The process was just like any other audition. You go in, you have a meeting and then you have a reading and then you get the job. I know that sounds simple, but that’s the job of Hollywood. It’s a little more stressful I think to the majority of people, but after doing this for 22 years I’ve accepted the fact that I’m not going to get everything I want. Especially jobs and characters that I want to play.

You go in optimistic but you also have to go in a bit realistic and know that there is a possibility that they might not pick you. And at that point they don’t pick you, you have to be OK with it.

US: Is there a storyline you want for Jack?

MV: We’ve only known these characters for 18 hours. We haven’t known them for very long. We’ve seen Jack and Rebecca in several decades of existence but beyond that there is still so much to learn about this entire family and its extensions. Randall [Sterling K. Brown] married Beth [Susan Kelechi Watson] and Toby [Chris Sullivan] is with Kate [Chrissy Metz]. There are so many things to learn and discover about these families still.

US: What was your reaction when the series got an impressive two-season pickup?

MV: To be really honest, I was excited for the audience. I’ve done shows where people tell me, ‘Aw man, what happened to that show?’ And I’ll tell them, ‘Sorry, nobody wants it.’ And they’ll say, ‘But I want it and watched it.’ So for NBC to say that they are renewing This Is Us for two more seasons — I thought that was an amazing vote of confidence that audiences can invest themselves in the show. They can actually say, ‘You know what, these characters are going to be around for a while so I’m going to go ahead and really get into this show.’”

This Is Us’ season 2 premieres on Tuesday, September 26, on NBC at 9 p.m. ET.

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