Even though we knew it was coming, we were all pretty devastated when This Is Us (Tuesdays on CTV this fall) revealed how family patriarch Jack Pearson (Milo Ventimiglia) died, in a special Super Bowl episode of the show last season.
Don’t worry, we won’t rehash all of our heartbroken feelings here, but we will say that his onscreen death wasn’t just hard for us to watch — it was equally hard for Hannah Zeile, a.k.a. the girl who plays 17-year old Kate Pearson on the series, to film.
“I would probably say the scenes dealing with Jack’s death [were the hardest], that was something we knew was coming because it had been talked about since the first season, but we didn’t know exactly how it was going to play out,” she told us Thursday at CTV’s upfront presentation. “It was really emotional and sombre on set. It was definitely a tough [day]. There was like that sequence of three episodes, consisting of his death and the funeral and the aftermath. Once those were all finished filming we kind of looked at each other and took a big sigh and said, ‘Well that was that.’ That was intense for sure.”
Of course, thanks to the nature of the show we all know those scenes weren’t the last that Zeile will have with Ventimiglia. While the third season is supposed to continue showing the lives of the Big Three as teens following Jack’s death, we’re sure to get more flashbacks of happier times too. And for Zeile, it’s all good, because now that the truth behind what happened to her onscreen dad is out there she can finally stop being so cryptic when answering the question of how he died, two years later.
“I mean, it’s a relief in the sense that that was my most asked question ever and now I don’t have to deflect all those questions now that it’s out in the open,” she said. “But it’s so funny. That was the most asked question and then when the episode came out everyone was like, ‘Nooo we didn’t want this.’ And I was like, ‘But you’ve been asking me for two years about it!’”
Let’s be honest: all of the actors were pumped for answers to Jack’s death since the show debuted, so we imagine all of them are happy to move on with their lives. We know that Zeile’s onscreen counterparts are, at least.
“I’m glad I don’t have to hide it from my grandma anymore,” Niles Finch, who plays 17-year-old Randall Pearson told us. “But I know whatever comes in the future, it’s going to be good. Sad or happy.”
“My family got so mad at me, like, ‘You can tell me, come on!’ But I can’t. I signed extra contracts for that one. So it’s definitely a bit of a relief,” added Logan Schroyer, a.k.a. teenaged Kevin Pearson. “You never know where the writers are going to take it. From season one we wondered how they were going to top themselves, but you know I think maybe they did. So we’re just really looking forward to seeing what goes on next.”
Us too, Logan. Us too.