Milo Ventimiglia may not be a father off-screen, but he plays a convincing one on-camera — and credits his own dad to helping him portray the role of patriarch to audiences.
The actor, who stars as a father of three triplets (two biological and one adopted) in NBC’s hit fall series This Is Us, opened up to Interview about gleaning from his childhood to fully capture the lovable role of Jack Pearson.
In a PEOPLE exclusive sneak peek at the magazine’s Q&A, Ventimiglia discusses the similarities between his own father and his character.
“I feel like Jack has the same heart as my father. My father was a very fun dad; he was always coaching our soccer sports teams, he made sure that we had activities to do. He was kind of goofy and fun. But at the same time, he had a lot of lessons to teach us so that we didn’t grow up and just not be good people,” says Ventimiglia, who stars opposite Mandy Moore in the drama.
“I try and reflect a lot on how I was raised by my father in the character that I’m playing now in being a dad. You’ve got to be strong for these kids. You also have to be fun and teach them all the lessons, not just one, or two, or three,” the actor, 39, continues.
Ventimiglia, who is the youngest of three siblings — he has two older sisters — focuses on two specific and “simple” lessons that his own dad lived out.
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“I’m in my trailer right now, and in it I have a photograph of my dad from when I was about three years old, and above it, it says, ‘Be a good father’ and below it, it says, ‘Be a good husband,’ ” he says. “It’s really simple — really simple, easy things to look at right before I walk out of my trailer.”
“I got very lucky with the family I was born into,” says Ventimiglia, who adds, “From my older sisters to my mother and father, they’re just good, kind-hearted people.”
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.