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This Is Us’ Milo Ventimiglia Opens Up About That ‘Really, Really Tough’ Scene For Jack

Jack Pearson on This Is Us.
(Image credit: NBC)

Spoiler alert! This story discusses This Is Us’ Season 6 episode “Don’t Let Me Keep You.” 

This Is Us jumped back in time in its latest episode, “Don’t Let Me Keep You,” spending time with Jack Pearson in the days following his mother’s death. Laura Niemi returned as Marilyn Pearson for the episode that mostly flipped back and forth between when the Big Three were 1 year old and when Marilyn died about five years later. We haven’t gotten to spend as much time with Jack in the past few seasons, but as the series comes to an end, Milo Ventimiglia proved he's quality over quantity, bringing the emotion full-force in a heart-shattering scene when Jack’s grief reached a tipping point.

“Don’t Let Me Keep You” saw Jack Pearson struggling in the aftermath of Marilyn’s death, as he realized how little he actually knew about his mother. The episode culminated in an emotional scene, where Jack broke down after fixing hot dogs and tomato soup for his kids, just like his mother had for him, with Jack crying to Rebecca, “I don’t have a mom anymore.” Milo Ventimiglia talked to Variety about filming that scene and how his TV kids propelled that emotion. 

That scene we had shot in order, so coming off of the kids and Jack feeding his kids this meal that his mom said was his favorite when he was a kid, I remember when we were working on that pre-scene, I was looking at our littles, Kaz, Ca’Ron and Isabella, and they’re dug into the hotdogs and tomato soup and they’re dipping and they’re being what kids are, which is funny on set and enjoying themselves and they get to eat when it’s not a meal time, so they’re laughing and having fun. I remember Kaz just looked up at me and smiled, and it just broke my heart, thinking about a flip from a kid looking up to their parent. And that kind of catapulted me into that next scene with Mandy [Moore].

The three kids — Kaz Womack as Kevin, Ca'Ron Jaden Coleman as Randall, and Isabella Rose Landau as Kate — just digging into their soup while Milo Ventimiglia was acting this overbearing moment of grief is somehow so beautifully real life, and Ventimiglia said when the actor playing little Kevin looked up at him, he found the connection between his roles as their father and Marilyn’s son. 

And I remember Mandy saying, ‘Milo, what do you need? What do you need?’ And I just said, ‘I’m probably going to have my back to you, because that’s very Jack. He doesn’t let his emotions show.’ So I said, ‘Any way you want to let me know that you’re there.’ And when the cameras were rolling, I walked in, she walked up, put her hand on my shoulder. And I turned around and that’s what you guys saw… We don’t see Jack cry, that’s not his lot in life. He’s a man of particular era. So I think when Jack breaks, those are big moments. He’s kind of on edge during the eulogy, a little bit toward the end. But when he finally does break, it’s a really, really tough moment. It’s tough to watch, tough to live, tough for me personally to have to believe when I was performing it.

Tough to watch for sure, because I’m pretty sure viewers found the incredible devastation that the actors promised This Is Us’ final chapter would bring (or at least part of it, since there's surely more to come). Mandy Moore’s support of Milo Ventimiglia was so sweet, and it sounds like she was fulfilling the vows the couple exchanged before playing husband and wife, as she checked in with him and asked him what he needed for Jack’s big moment.

No mysteries were solved in “Don’t Let Me Keep You,” but instead we got a stunning performance from Milo Ventimiglia in what might be our last big Jack Pearson episode. Restock the tissues, This Is Us fans, because the Pearsons are back next Tuesday for “Heart and Soul” at 9 p.m. ET on NBC. Check out our 2022 TV Schedule to see what other shows are premiering soon. 

Heidi Venable
Heidi Venable

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.