How one veteran's Vietnam horrors inspired 'This Is Us'
Last seasonâs âThis Is Usâ featured a few scenes of Jack Pearsonâs (Milo Ventimiglia) 1971 tour of duty in Vietnam.
Tuesday nightâs episode will focus entirely on Jackâs time in Southeast Asia.
Entitled âVietnam,â the episode is based on the experiences of novelist Tim OâBrien, whose 1990 story collection âThe Things They Carriedâ chronicled his days as a soldier in the 23rd Infantry Division and has sold more than 2 million copies. He is a consultant on the NBC drama this season.
OâBrien, who co-wrote the episode with show creator Dan Fogelman, spent five days in May brainstorming with the showâs large writing staff, in sessions presided over by Fogelman. âDan had a pretty good idea of how he wanted things to connect,â OâBrien says. âHe wasnât telling us the story exactly. My job was share anecdotes about the setting, what it looked like. Thin gs Iâd witnessed. Five or six of these ended up in the episode.â
âI would say, âTim, we need this story go get from A to B,â and he would come in the next day and paint a story,â â Fogelman says. âA little moment, like a hand on the face, that stays with you for decades. Itâs very much how our story has evolved.â
Tuesday nightâs episode will feature the US draft lottery where young American men learned if they were going to war by watching television. Jack enlists for a special reason. âWe have a brother in the war. We have another brother whoâs come to find him,â OâBrien says.
That brother is Nicky Pearson (Michael Anganaro), a character viewers have only glimpsed in early childhood. The brothers will see combat, as OâBrien did, in the Quang Ngai province of Vietnam, which the vet describes as a âheavily Vietcongedâ place where land mines were prevalent. âEighty percent of the casualties came from men having their feet and legs blown off,â OâBrien says.
The most private moments of OâBrienâs experience found their way into the script. âIf you misbehaved, you were made to burn sâ"t. They had these big tanks beneath the outhouses and you would pour kerosene on them and burn them,â he says. âI said this in passing and Danâs eyes lit up. Itâs not gross, but it is sad. It has the effect of reality. Itâs a human moment. Two brothers looking at each other over this burning waste.â
Tuesdayâs episode will usher in a new Jack storyline that will require Ventimiglia to film scenes in Vietnam. (Heâs heading there Tuesday. All the Vietnam scenes have, thus far, been filmed in LA.)
OâBrien likes what heâs seen so far from the actor. âI think Milo nails the essence of what itâs like to care for oneâs men in the way I remember it,â he says. âIt was love without the romance part. The great sorrow you fee l when someone is hurt or dies. You may hate the war yourself. When youâre in it, youâre not thinking about politics or capitalism.
âYouâre thinking about staying alive.âSource: Google News Vietnam | Netizen 24 Vietnam