Milo Ventimiglia makes America cry every Tuesday night as Jack, the seemingly perfect (and ill-fated) father of three on NBC’s breakout hit “This Is Us.” But acting’s just Ventimiglia’s day job: He’s also a prolific producer in his own right, with several series in the works, including Fox’s drama pilot “Kin.”
This story first appeared in the January 31, 2017 issue of Variety.
Part of the success of “This Is Us” is in the audience relating to the characters. Can you relate to Jack?
One hundred percent. I approach Jack very simply, because he’s a simple-needs kind of guy. He loves his wife, he loves his kids, and will do anything for them. He’s a good person, and inspires people around him to be good. I very much try to be a good man, too.
Is he as perfect as he seems? Will we get to see any flaws?
I don’t think he’s perfect at all. I think he’s flawed, and we’ll see those flaws. Those flaws and those cracks and those imperfections are what make us human. A lot of people, especially on social media, are saying, “Jack is perfect. Where can I find a Jack?” and kind of transfer all that love onto me. That’s a nice feeling.
Jack’s future, though, isn’t all that great….
When I signed on for the pilot, I knew that Jack was deceased in the present day. So it wasn’t a surprise when [creator] Dan Fogelman finally told me how it all happened. It’s going to break some hearts wide open when it happens, but it’s a pretty amazing, magical moment to see what Dan has planned.
How has this role changed your career?
The one thing that I always battled was that I would never necessarily play my age. I’m closing in on 40, but people are like, “You look like you’re 28, 29, 30.” I think at this point people are finally looking at me and saying, “Oh, you can be a father.”
What kind of shows do you want to make as a producer?
Oh man, human stories. Human stories that have a quality about them that feels attainable. Stories that show conviction. Stories that show growth as a human being. But at the same time, I’m as much entertained by a story of redemption and vengeance as anyone else.
Several of your projects are on digital: “Chosen” for Crackle and “Relationship Status” for go90. Does that allow greater creativity?
I don’t see a difference between something that’s made for a mobile platform vs. something that’s going to play 40 feet tall on a movie screen. Storytelling is storytelling. Any place that can do that is a good place.
Given the success of the revival of “Gilmore Girls,” would you be willing to sign on for more episodes?
If [creators] Dan Palladino or Amy Sherman-Palladino ever called me, of course. They are the reason why I show up. Amy created Jess, and I loved speaking her words. But I do kind of feel like audiences shouldn’t get so greedy. They were given a last serving of pie — why don’t we just leave it at that?
Do you have a theory on who the father of Rory’s baby is?
No, nor have I spent any time wondering. Let me be real honest: When I worked on the show, that was my present but that’s 13 years in the rearview for me now so I don’t spend what little free time I have wondering about the baby of a past TV flame.
What you didn’t know about Milo Ventimiglia
FAVORITE TV SHOWS GROWING UP: “Miami Vice,” “The A-Team” GO-TO CARTOON: “The Smurfs” CLASSIC FAMILY DRAMA: “The Sopranos” MOST-USED APP: Leica FACIAL HAIR OF CHOICE: Beard