‘This Is Us’ Star Milo Ventimiglia Makes Directing Debut: Jack Battles an Unwelcome Houseguest
Is there nothing This Is Us star, Milo Ventimiglia, can’t do? As patriarch, Jack Pearson, on the hit drama, Ventimiglia’s stepping out of his comfort zone in exchange form something bigger. The actor makes his directorial debut with episode five of the season. Spoilers ahead.
Everything to know about Ventimiglia’s directorial episode, ‘Storybook Love’
Last week’s bombshell of Kevin (Logan Shroyer) and Sophie’s (Amanda Leighton) marriage came just as episode four ended. A shocked Rebecca was, expectedly, speechless. Promos for this Tuesday’s episode pick up where that conversation left off.
According to USA Today, “Storybook Love” follows Jack and pregnant Rebecca (Mandy Moore) as they host their first family get-together in their new house.
To mirror that, the episode also follows a still-grieving Rebecca a year after Jack’s death hosting a dinner after Kevin’s marital news.
Present-day Randall (Sterling K. Brown) is busy as a City Councilman, balancing family life in a new city. His daughter, Tess (Eris Baker) shows signs of anxiety much like Randall’s always dealt with. The two clash over a conversation about it.
Kevin (Justin Hartley) is still focusing his energy on Uncle Nicky (Griffin Dunne) and military officer, Cassidy (Jennifer Morrison). Kate (Chrissy Metz) likely has the least happening this week with her story revolving around baby gifts for her son, Jack.
Series creator, Dan Fogelman, said the episode — which shows parts of the early relationship between Rebecca and Miguel (Jon Huertas) — is one of his “favorites.” He added it’s one of the next three that are “as strong a run of episodes as we’ve ever had.”
Directing the ‘This Is Us’ episode and the unwelcome houseguest, according to Ventimiglia
Ventimiglia expressed his desire to direct after having little screen time in the previous episode. He said it allowed him the time to prepare.
“I knew that I was walking on set, not as No. 1 on the call sheet (but) as someone who had never directed on the show before,” he said. “When I walked onto set with (them), I was a guest.”
The Jack and Rebecca scenes were filmed in a day with Ventimiglia acting in the scenes. He reviewed the playbacks after each take. With the help of producer/director, Ken Olin, cinematographer Yasu Tanida, and writers, Casey Johnson and David Windsor, Ventimiglia directed like an old pro.
“After my first take, Ken pulled me aside and said: ‘Milo, just focus on your acting. You’ve got everything else ready to go.’ And I realized I did all the homework as a director, so I could focus on the acting,” Ventimiglia said.
As for the unwelcome houseguest he filmed, the episode features a battle with a pigeon.
“It wasn’t easy, but it also wasn’t difficult,” he said. “We got pretty lucky with the performance of the bird.”
The talented crew made sure Ventimiglia hit all the right beats to ensure a smooth transition for future episodes. Ventimiglia said season 4 will focus on more of Jack and Rebecca’s story before they became parents. For that to happen, every episode has the added task of keeping with the stories and timelines.
“Casey and Dave are on set, saying, ‘Hey, Milo, can you make sure we got a shot of this because that sets up what’s happening three episodes down the line?'” Ventimiglia added.
Will any other ‘This Is Us’ actors direct future episodes?
Fogelman hinted Brown may direct and write at some point.
“Our cast members have varied interests, whether it be directing, producing, writing. What we’re hoping to do in the last few seasons of the show is give them the opportunity to scratch those itches and use their talents,” he said.
After “Storybook Love,” the next two episodes “explore some complicated generational stuff dealing with race (and) class,” according to Fogelman. There’s also “an incredibly deep, almost scary arc” for Randall.
He noted Ventimiglia’s episode provides a little levity between the heavy scenes. He explained a heart-warming scene with Rebecca and Miguel, and a personal story that involves ice cream.
“That is something one of my grandparents used to do with ice cream (and) Milo did such a beautiful job with it,” Fogelman said.
As for Ventimiglia’s directing, his closeness to the characters gave him a deep appreciation for their stories — particularly Miguel’s.
“Miguel is a hero. I think people forget that Jack was his best friend. It’s not just Rebecca going through pain. Miguel is, too,” he said. “I watch the show from almost a studious place where I’m focused on the making of it, the look of it and the feel of it. Aside from acting on the show, I’m a fan.”
If Ventimiglia’s directing talent is a fraction of his acting gifts, “Storybook Love” will be a real treat for fans. Jack may be long gone on the show but he’s still behind the camera making sure his family is OK.