The creator of This Is Us, Dan Fogelman in Jack Pearson, explains why the show ventured into the Vietnam War.

adminOctober 17, 2018


War is hell. It is also a key part, and not reported, of Pearson's family history.

Until now, that's it. Episode of Tuesday of We are He accompanied the spectators to the enemy territory (Vietnam, specifically) so that they could finally begin to understand the traumas that Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) had suffered and the horror he witnessed, all of which he decided not to share with his loved ones later in life . "Vietnam" gave us Jack's original story as he turned the clock back (literally, on his narrative device) to take you inside Pearson's house in the years leading up to the war. Alcoholic father Abused mother. A little brother who must be protected at all costs.

So much so that Jack followed Nicky (Michael Angarano) abroad after reading his letters and realizing the danger and anguish he was in. This episode of the successful family drama of NBC, which was co-written by The things they brought author and Vietnam veteran Tim O'Brien – heightened the importance and intensity beyond the emotional crisis and catharsis of the week, while still sharing a family tale about the brand and clinging to the fabric of the brotherhood. (And in pure We are Fashion, illustrates how something so small and random, for example, the day of your birth, could have a massive impact on your life. If Nicky had been born two minutes later, his birthday would have been October 19 and he would not have been drafted into the lottery. In one hour, you met a guy who did not have the Superman gene that seemed to define his older brother, but who sought to do something for himself, and met a man who was being destroyed by this war. When Jack was able to visit his younger brother in a remote province of Vietnam, Nicky was in a desperate emotional situation, pouring gasoline into barrels of excrement and burning them as part of his degradation to the latrine service. Here to discuss this highly flammable situation, quite ominous is We areThe creator and general of five stars, Dan Fogelman.

WEEKLY ENTERTAINMENT: That was not exactly read as a warm and diffuse meeting of the brothers. Our first and last picture of the episode, of adult Nicky lighting a barrel of excrement, is someone who is fighting many demons, who seems to have a lot of anger and pain, and as we have learned, can be a danger to himself and others. What can you imply about Nicky's trip?
We have a very complicated trip ahead for Jack and Nicky in Vietnam. The way this show will work is that it becomes one of our stories that unfolds in a lot of episodes that progress. This will be the only episode during a time that only exists between the two brothers and in Vietnam. Often, in the next episodes, when we go to our past history, it will exist between Jack and his brother in Vietnam.

In terms of Nicky's journey, it is filled with many different things. It is full of brotherly love, and it is also a very dangerous journey for a young man who has entered a war and has broken a little. A brother, his superman, feeling the need to be there and save him. Inherently, there are high bets. For starters, everything is happening in the middle of a war that lives in complete gray areas, and now you are adding a very damaged brother to the journey of our hero, so it is very exciting.

How did you come up with that image as our introduction to Nicky?
Tim and I had always written it that way. Then, in the course of the episode, you see that he was a different type before entering the war, both physically and emotionally. Since the whole episode is essentially reversed, we talk about keeping the most current moment of change in Nicky until the end, and it becomes very effective. At the last minute, we asked Michael if he would shave his head, lose weight and undergo a real physical transformation, so that the guy we know in Vietnam is a very different version of the guy we met in Pittsburgh. I think it really worked.

Does Jack fully realize what Nicky has become? Are you looking at a very Brother different than the one who left that motel near the border?
I think it is. I still do not think Jack knows, but in the next episodes he will find a brother very different from the young man who left. There is something that Milo does at the end of the episode, and at the beginning, when he sees his brother for the first time. It is the most subtle shudder when he sees his brother, and it is not just that he is dirty and that his hairstyle is different. Clearly there is something a little different.

In the eyes.
In his eyes [Jack]The reaction is so subtle, but he knows his little brother so well that he sees it. I think Michael and the program have done a very good job: we built a sweet and sensitive young man, who could easily be destroyed by a hard and horrible war, and frankly, a child who was protected by his strong older brother, his whole life and wanted to leave his mark for himself, and may have been ill prepared for it. I think that's what Jack's little shudder is at the end of the episode. And it is also a great precursor to everything that comes next.

We have this image of Super Jack, and you said that this season aims to give you a more complete picture of man. This episode not only gives you the literal iconography of that; It seemed that he was building on that idea by making Jack, with the heart defect, join the war, because he needs to protect his little brother. Will we see more of SuperJack, but also Jack at his most vulnerable point in Vietnam?
There is a great moment in the episode in which Robinson says: "Jack, are not you tired of pretending you're not scared?" Jack says: "I've been pretending all my life, I do not know it in any other way." I think that's the closest thing to what Jack is most terrified of, it's an admission that he's completely human. He is a small child formed by a trauma and a degree of abuse, and is hardened. The Jack we know today, that is, as an adult and father, is clearly someone who buried and has channeled a lot of that. I think he started to bury and channel a lot of him as a really young man. I do not know if Jack was ever a person, if he had survived until the decade of 2010, he would have been completely comfortable in therapy, seeing a therapist or really revealing that part of himself. I think I would have needed a good therapist to really get in there, because I do not know if I would have allowed it.

Speaking of that line of Robinson: when Jack says he is faking his whole life, it was because he only pretended not to be scared by his mother and his little brother while Jack's father was an abusive alcoholic, or there are other events of those formative years. what will come to light?
It is mostly what he talks about when he was a boy or a boy, he has been hearing his father shouting at his mother. He has been afraid of what might happen to his little brother some day. He has been afraid of a future without anything. I do not think there's been an iconic car accident for Jack or anything that has shaped him as a young man. I think it was more about the hard childhood in general that he had in that house.

Whether it is a transracial adoption or a weight loss, fight for authenticity in the narrative. Now you have Tim O & # 39; Brien as a consultant, and he co-wrote the episode with you. You knew that Tim would bring a lot of perspective and precision, but what else did you think that surprised you?
I was not surprised, because I have been a student of his writing for a long time, and he has always written such a beautiful dialogue in a different way, not in a script, but sometimes there is a difference between writing a dialogue read and another written dialogue that It needs to be acted on screen. My nightmare would be for Tim to write some jokes and other things, and he would be in a position where he would have to say, "Tim, I do not think this is going to play on the screen too." It just was not the case. Literally, we got him a script writing software program, and his dialogue was so wonderful and so specific, and it worked very well in the episode. It just amazed me how talented it is to navigate a different way so quickly.

In terms of what he contributed, it was not just writing the script with me. Tim came when we started working in the writers room, and the whole story of Jack in Vietnam was born a lot from sitting with Tim and just a group of writers sitting and listening to him tell stories, and us explaining things we were looking for, and then he He said, "Let me throw this at you This is something that happened to a friend of mine This is something that happened to me There is something here that I think could be credible." It was the basis of what became our Jack Vietnam story. We knew what the movements were, because I had always had the plan for it. We knew what happened to Jack. We did not know exactly how It would happen or in what order, and Tim really helped us solve it.

How much did you know about the Vietnam War in this story?
I know what the average American knows, which is what I have read, I have read many books by Tim. The things they brought It was a book I studied at the university, and now I'm writing a television show with him. I had seen all the films that have been made about Vietnam, as we have all done, and I have read a lot. We threw ourselves more heavily when we decided that this was the season to make sure we were going to do it. It began, for most of our writers, with perfect timing; The Ken Burns documentary had just come out, so it became a mandatory viewing for all our staff. Then I was reading and researching, and because our program lives on personal things, reading and listening to stories that could have been online from people who write their memories for a moment. People who write memories or talk about their memories of their father's inability to talk about a war. And a lot of this came from just having weeks and weeks in a room with Tim.

What fears, in your case, did you have to address this story?
It was the functional. Once we had Tim on board, I was both relieved, because I knew we would do well, but you also want him to be proud. Certainly, the writers of the episode, including myself, live mainly in the world of dramatic space. Our team makes the most elegant costume design and prop work, but they are generally period-of-life things and we are not in the bowels of a war. So this was a new ground for all of us as a team, as a cast, as writers, as directors. I wrote to the crew after seeing in the first court a collective note of how proud I was of everyone's work. I would be proud if I had hired a group of people who make war movies, but the fact that we did it where it was not for what we were all hired and that we really work really hard to achieve it. Correctly, that was probably my biggest fear, it was doing well.

Milo's father is a Vietnam veteran. What was Milo's first reaction when you presented the story?
It was during season 1. I told him that in future seasons, probably around season 3, we were going to get into that, and obviously, he was very surprised by the fact that it was an experience that his father had had. All our male actors, like Milo and Sterling. [K. Brown] and Justin [Hartley] Down, [Jon] Huertas and Sully [Chris Sullivan]they're so uncles, and very often what we do in the program and we love doing in the program, all of us, as men, is so internal and just emotional, and we are really digging into men and women in a way that is really probing It was probably really exciting for Milo to put mud on his face and run and activate that muscle a bit, and he started it so organically. There is a moment right at the top of the episode where he leaves a helicopter in slow motion and says, "Oh, yes, Milo is made to do this." Like, this does not feel fake or weird at all. It's not like "Oh, a TV dad is suddenly walking around in military boots and this is ridiculous." It's like "Oh, no, he's completely master of this and he's very good."

NEXT PAGE: Fogelman on what awaits Jack and Nicky


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