‘This Is Us’ Star Milo Ventimiglia Nearly Missed Out on the Role of Jack Pearson: ‘They Wanted Somebody Completely Different’

Milo Ventimiglia currently stars in NBC’s award-winning series, This Is Us. It’s hard to imagine anyone else playing the part of dedicated father and husband, Jack Pearson, but the actor nearly missed out on the role.

Milo Ventimiglia poses on the red carpet at 2019 PaleyFest LA
Milo Ventimiglia attends 2019 PaleyFest LA | Chelsea Guglielmino/WireImage

Milo Ventimiglia didn’t look the part of Jack Pearson 

When Ventimiglia first auditioned for the role of Jack, he wasn’t channeling the character in his looks. Reflecting on the casting process with Freida Pinto in Variety’s “Actors on Actors” series, he recalled how the people in charge of casting This Is Us didn’t immediately see him as Jack.

“They wanted somebody completely different,” Ventimiglia told Pinto of his audition. “I walked in with my beard and my long hair and set my motorcycle helmet down and they went, ‘Who is this guy?'” 

Luckily for the actor, Ventimiglia got another shot to impress the people behind This Is Us. After his audition, he had a conversation with the show’s producers.

“I think they just saw something different than someone who had practiced the words. And they picked me,” he said. 

RELATED: ‘This Is Us’: Why Milo Ventimiglia Is Relieved By Jack’s Death

And, although he didn’t look the part initially, Ventimiglia and Jack are similar in at least three ways.

Milo Ventimiglia’s scored 3 Emmy nominations for his portrayal of Jack Pearson

Both viewers and Hollywood responded positively to This Is Us when it premiered in 2016. In addition to getting nominated with his fellow cast members, Ventimiglia received solo recognition.

Ventimiglia received Emmy nominations for his turn as Jack three years in a row, according to the Television Academy. In 2017, 2018, and 2019, the actor received nods in the category of Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series. Ultimately, he went home emptyhanded. 

Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia in 'This Is Us'
Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia in This Is Us | Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

RELATED: ‘This Is Us’: The Producers Reveal That Jack Is Not the Perfect Dad—He Caused Randall’s Anxiety

Although he didn’t take the stage as a lead actor winner, Ventimiglia probably didn’t mind losing in 2017. Why? Because Sterling K. Brown, the actor who plays his on-screen son, Randall Pearson, won. 

Even though Ventimiglia has yet to win an Emmy that doesn’t mean he hasn’t received any awards. In 2018 and 2019, he went home a winner at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. This Is Us took home statues in the best ensemble category, according to the SAG Awards.  

Ahead of the 2020 Emmys, Ventimiglia’s not nominated in the lead actor category. However, This Is Us has secured five nominations.

Milo Ventimiglia ‘completely right’ for the role of Jess Mariano on ‘Gilmore Girls’

Before giving an award-winning performance in This Is Us, Ventimiglia starred in another popular TV series. He played Jess Mariano in Gilmore Girls as Rory Gilmore’s (Alexis Bledel) love interest. But his experience as far as casting goes stands in stark contrast to This Is Us.

Mara Casey and Jami Rudofsky contacted Ventimiglia after being tasked by Gilmore Girls creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino, to cast the role of Jess.

“Milo seemed completely right as the bad-boy description [Amy] wanted,” Casey told Vanity Fair

RELATED: ‘This Is Us’: Milo Ventimiglia Predicts How Jack Pearson Would Respond to the Coronavirus Pandemic