Genuinely warm, attentive and willing to talk, on screen Milo Ventimiglia plays Jack, the fiercely devoted, on occasion flawed, and yet deeply loved patriarch of the hit NBC series “This is Us.”
Off screen Milo bears an enviable reputation amongst his fellow cast mates… Chris Sullivan who plays Toby explained what I heard over and over again while at the recent PaleyFest event celebrating the remarkable first season of the show.
“He’s a veteran in this industry. He is an amazing actor and he has the answers that all of us are looking for. That’s the honest truth. He is an unbelievable human being and he makes sure that we are all taken care of and that we are all kind of happy and healthy and it’s kinda nice.”
When directly asked whether he knew of his caregiver rep… Milo fessed up immediately.
“Yes, yeah they tell me. But also, I feel like I’ve been doing this long enough, I mean this is my 22nd year in front of the camera in the business that… I have a pretty good understanding of the things that can go wrong and also the things that can go right. And that you really are just trying your best to say… ‘Hey, we’re going to have a long days, we’re going to have tough moments, endure some emotion. We’re going to have to cry, but let’s have a good time. Let’s enjoy ourselves. It’s a unique moment where you get to completely enjoy not only the experience of what you are doing but who you are doing it with. And sometimes you forget that, because you are so focused on the goal of getting through the day or getting through the episode, getting through the long hours that you forget. So, I’m always there reminding people that hey, hey…’this is fun.’ This is good and maybe that’s a little hopeful and a lot like Jack of living in the moment.”
This joie de vivre attitude extends to any subject or topic of conversation. An Orange County native, Milo grew up in Anaheim, attended El Modena High School, and recalls the OC with a warm nostalgia.
“Orange County was a great place to grow up. You got to be a kid, run around the neighborhood and goof off. One morning you’re in the ocean, the next afternoon, you’re in the mountain.”
And given his lifelong commitment to being a vegetarian, it’s no surprise he remembers his fav place to eat back in the day.
“Find a place; I think it maybe in Tustin called Rutabegorz. Go to Rutabegorz, we used to eat there all the time when I was a kid. It was like a healthier restaurant, more organic foods so in the 80’s, I think that was like the turn when people started shifting toward stuff like that. And yeah, it was a great restaurant.”
Soon, Milo will have good reason to make it back through the Orange Curtain. For the second year in a row, he has a feature film that will screen at the Newport Beach Film Festival taking place April 20th through April 27th.
This year’s offering, ‘Devil’s Gate’, an independent thriller. Set in a small town, an FBI Agent, played by Amanda Schull, comes to investigate the missing wife and son of a local rancher, played by Ventimiglia. Quite a departure from the ‘This is Us’ version of Milo, but even at that…similarities exist.
“Devil’s Gate, oh well totally, totally different. But funny enough though, my character’s name is Jack as well, Jackson. I play three Jacks this year. I had Jack Pearson on ‘This is Us’ I had Jackson Pritchard, another J.P. in ‘Devil’s Gate’ and then I played a gay bartender from New York in ‘Relationship Status’ a show that I produced for Verizon go90, so a lot of Jacks. Tons of Jacks, but ‘Devil’s Gate’ wow, it’s not ‘This is Us’ It’s on the other side of the spectrum.”
That’s ok. That’s one of Milo’s best qualities, his professional versatility. It’s just very nice to know that as a person, he really is so very, very nice.