Set in Pittsburgh: New NBC Drama “This Is Us”
Show star Milo Ventimiglia sits down with Pittsburgh Magazine to talk about his character, the Pittsburgh accent and what he can reveal about the “Gilmore Girls” reboot.
photo by by Ron Batzdorff | NBC
NBC’s new drama “This Is Us” features three storylines linked by characters who share the same birthday — and one of those storylines is set in Pittsburgh.
Show creator Dan Fogelman (“Crazy Stupid Love”) lived in Bethel Park until he was about 7 (and was a producer on locally filmed “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl”). The Steel City storyline features Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore), a married couple set to have triplets. In the opening scene of the preview, Jack is in his bedroom with his wife wearing nothing but a Terrible Towel over his lap.
Ventimiglia (“Heroes,” “Gilmore Girls”) sat down with Pittsburgh Magazine Monday to talk about what appealed to him about the show with the tagline “This is real. This is love. This is life.”
photo by Chris Haston | NBC
PM: So your character in the show is a Pittsburgh Steelers fan?
MV: Not even a fan, I’d say obsessed. [Myself] and my [on-screen] wife, Mandy Moore, our characters are from Pittsburgh. Their storylines are set in Pittsburgh.
PM: Did you learn the correct way to say Steelers?
MV: [Without hesitation] Stillers. I’ve had so many people say to me, ‘Are you doing the Pittsburgh accent?’ As true as it would be to Pittsburgh, it’s one of those things I think only people in Pittsburgh would understand … But Steelers football is a big part of it for our characters and for their family.
PM: Have you ever been to Pittsburgh before?
MV: Yes, 12 years ago I worked with American Eagle Outfitters and did some digital content for them [through his production team Divide Pictures]. I spent some time with my creative team and built some things with their creative team.
PM: You’ve done a lot more than acting; you’ve produced and been behind the camera as well. I don’t think a lot of people know that.
MV: Yeah, people typically know the big three, “Gilmore Girls,” “Rocky Balboa” [Ventimiglia played Robert “Rocky Jr.” Balboa in the 2006 film] and “Heroes.” I’ve been in the business 21 years; I’ve played a million different characters. I’ve been directing and producing for the last 13 years.
photos by paul drinkwater | nBC
PM: How do you feel about this role as the next step in your career?
MV: I’m happy with it where I am in my career. I’m 39 years old playing a loving dad, a loving husband, just a good, solid guy. In the TV landscape, there’s a lot of crime, a lot of war, a lot of scandal — it’s nice to be in something that’s hopeful and good, especially with the state of the world.
PM: But your character on “Heroes” started out so hopeful and good! Peter Petrelli always saw the best in everyone.
MV: [Nods]. The kid with the golden heart and head in the clouds. No, Peter Petrelli is dead and gone.
PM: What appealed to you about the script for “This Is Us”?
MV: Again, I think in the landscape of bad happening in the world, this was good. It’s about family, about love and loss and life. I think the show will be relevant to a lot of people. It’s a show that goes beyond gender and race and age — it’s all-inclusive. I think if there’s a TV show that can bring people together and they can show this experience of life, I’m happy to be a part of it.
PM: What was it like working with Mandy Moore?
MV: Amazing. One of the most talented people I’ve come across in 21 years. The kindest of hearts, really just a beautiful person. [Laughs and shakes his head]. I’m so lucky she’s my TV wife. If you’re not already in love with her, you’re going to fall in love with her on this.
PM: What can we expect from your storyline as a couple?
MV: I think you’re going to see a marriage … tested by children, by time. But you see a couple that loves each other and does their best.
PM: Can I ask one “Gilmore Girls” question?
PM: Are you coming back as a love interest or someone to guide Rory along as you did when we last saw your character, Jess?
MV: Everyone wants to know about Jess and Rory; there’s team Dean, team Logan, team Jess. I think Jess does what Jess has always done — he helps people along in their journeys. He’s grown up. He’s not the kid looking to make trouble. He’s grown up into a pretty decent guy.
“This Is Us,” which premieres at 10 p.m. Tuesday on NBC, also stars Sterling K. Brown (who won an Emmy on Sunday for his portrayal of Christopher Darden in “The People v. O.J. Simpson”), Justin Hartley (“Smallville”) and Chrissy Metz (“American Horror Story”). At the end of the pilot, it's revealed the three storylines are actually interwoven into one seamless plot.
Interested in seeing more? Go here for a preview of the “This Is Us.”