“We’re definitely going to see Jack in the Vietnam era,” Milo Ventimiglia, 40, tells PEOPLE of his character’s military past. “At the end of the Super Bowl episode when people were ultimately confronted with how he passed away, there was a trailer to show Jack in a helicopter over Vietnam in uniform. We’re going to explore that side of Jack’s 20s and what brought him into the man that we all knew.”
Jack Pearson died of cardiac arrest after being inside when his family’s Pittsburgh home caught fire. Ventimiglia says that even though viewers witnessed Jack’s funeral, they refuse to believe the father of the Big Three is truly gone. “People still are saying to me, ‘You’re not really dead, are you?’ ” Ventimiglia, whose dad was a real-life Vietnam War vet, admits. “They’re still constant.”
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“I’m on my bike four days a week,” says Ventimiglia, who partnered with Harley-Davidson to celebrate the brand’s 115th anniversary. “I really look forward to hopping on my Harley.”
While the Gilmore Girls alum typically commutes on his motorcycle around Los Angeles, he also likes escaping to Malibu or the California desert for weekend getaways with friends. In 2017, he even travelled between Portland and L.A. on his bike.
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“Last June I took a ride from Portland, Oregon, down to Los Angeles with a group of friends; some from Oregon, some from Japan,” Ventimiglia recalls. “It was a moment to get some miles on the bike but also spend time with friends. I have yet to go across the U.S., but I’m hoping to in the next year or two.”
Ventimiglia got his motorcycle license at age 26 for a scene in American Dreams, costarring Brittany Snow. But his ambitions of becoming a rider date back to childhood.
“I remember being a kid and seeing a Harley-Davidson go by and hearing the sounds and seeing its rider kind of wave at me, thinking, God, that must be fun to be that free on a motorcycle with the wind in your face and a road in front of you,” the California native recalls. “Every time I get off my bike, I look back at it with that kid excitement of, ‘Wow, I really, really love riding.’ “
His This is Us costars love the sound of his Harley, too. “Every time my bike roars up to set they’re all happy to hear it ’cause they know that I made it,” Ventimiglia says. “Susan Kelechi watched and she threw a leg over my bike and took a photo and put it up on social media!”
Ventimilgia will be taking over Harley-Davidson’s social media channels Monday to kick off riding season and celebrate the company’s 115th anniversary with the hashtag #MotorcycleMonday.