As a show that jumps around with time, This Is Us is known for transforming their actors to fit the past, present, or future-day appearance of their characters. However, it seems Nicky Pearson — aka Jack’s (Milo Ventimiglia) brother, Uncle Nicky — is portrayed by two actors instead of making use of the makeup department. Luckily, Griffin Dunne and Michael Angarano, who respectively play the older and younger Nicky, are both seasoned actors who understand how to characterize the Pearson brother with ease.
Griffin Dunne plays present-day Nicky Pearson on ‘This Is Us’
According to Deadline, Dunne was upped to a series regular in This Is Us Season 4 as present-day Nicky. However, the NBC series isn’t the first high profile project the 64-year-old actor has been part of.
Per Dunne’s IMDb profile, Nicky’s real-life alter ego has been in the entertainment business since 1975. And you may recognize him from After Hours as Paul Hackett, An American Werewolf in London as Jack Goodman, and Dallas Buyers Club as Dr. Vass. Then more recently, Dunne starred as Marco Pelios in House of Lies, Sylvere in I Love Dick, and Gene in Goliath.
Michael Angarano plays young Nicky Pearson on ‘This Is Us’
Meanwhile, the younger version of Nicky is portrayed by Angarano. Unfortunately, he wasn’t upped series regular status like Dunne. However, the 31-year-old actor will be making an appearance in This Is Us Season 4.
When discussing his directorial debut for the fourth episode, titled “Storybook Love,” Ventimiglia revealed Angarano will return as young Nicky. However, Ventimiglia didn’t specify exactly when Angarano will be back in the fourth season. Nevertheless, it’s still possible fans will see the actor on other projects soon.
According to Angarano’s IMDb profile, the actor is currently working on a comedy pilot called To Whom It May Concern. Fans may also recognize him as Will Stronghold in Sky High or Jason Tripitikas in The Forbidden Kingdom. He has also appeared in I’m Dying Up Here as Eddie Zeidel and Will & Grace as Elliot.
Why is Nicky played by two actors?
As you may remember, Nicky was first introduced in This Is Us Season 3. And following the episode, showrunner Dan Fogelman explained why two actors play Nicky on the NBC drama.
“Nicky’s character isn’t really ever interacting with the same batch of characters; it’s two different worlds,” Fogelman told Variety. “When he’s younger he’s only with Jack, he never knew the family. When he’s older Jack’s not alive anymore.”
The show’s creator then shared they approached Nicky’s character similarly to William. The character is played by both Jermel Nakia and Ron Cephas Jones. “And also Michael is just so inherently boyish and so much time has passed,” Fogelman added.
“I think it benefits the show and the part to have an older actor playing the older version of Nicky,” he told the publication. “You’re playing a man who’s seen a lot, who’s lived a really hard life, and I think it’s really appropriate to have an actor with the appropriate amount of life experience to play the part.”
Regardless, it seems the This Is Us crew chose the perfect pair to play Nicky. As it turns out, Dunne played Angarano’s father in 2007’s Snow Angels. And as they say, it was a twist of fate.
“It was kind of a thing where even both of us texted each other afterward saying, ‘God we kind of reminded each other of each other,'” Dunne said. “It was what we’d hoped would happen, but we didn’t really have a moment to plan it.”
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