That was also the first time you shared a scene with your TV dad, Milo Ventimiglia. Was this the ideal moment for you guys to finally get to act opposite each other?
I was a little disappointed with his rule; he said, “Everyone else can look me in the eye except Justin.” I thought that was a little rude, but other than that… No, I’m kidding! I’ve long been an admirer of his work, especially on this show, and I’ve always said that’s the one thing that bums me out, [is] that I don’t get to work with Milo. We finally got to do a scene together and it was done in a really great way. The writers came up with something that was wonderful and I don’t think it was done for the sake of us working together as much as it was for good storytelling. Selfishly, as an actor, it was cool to work with Milo. That was neat.
Another standout moment was Kevin’s big meltdown at the end of the episode when he’s crying out for help and pleading for someone to help him. Was that as emotionally draining as it looked to film?
Now that I’m talking to you about it, I’m a little disturbed by the fact at how easy that was for me. (Laughs.) Here’s the thing though, I’m a very emotional guy -- maybe not emotional as I am a sensitive guy. I get Kevin and I love Kevin and I really, really do want great things for him. To read what’s going on with him and have to do that and walk through it and actually live it, if you’re doing what you say you’re doing on stage, no one is able to say that you’re not doing it. But that means you have to do it. He does everything he can. He’s literally told people, “Don’t love me. I want you to help me,” yet people applaud and cheer -- no one’s listening to him. People want to see what they want to see. What a horrible, lonely experience that would be and we just went there [in the scene]. I trusted everyone around me; I’ve got great writers, a great director, a great cinematographer, great editors, [creator] Dan [Fogelman]’s vision and everyone went there together.
Why does Kevin turn to Randall for help? Is he that person for Kevin?
Yeah. Jack would’ve been the guy, but he’s dead. Do you think Kate would be like, “OK, let’s get a handle on this drug problem that you have, you’re obviously a drug addict”? Or do you think Kate would be like, “You’re not a drug addict. It’s fine. We’ll get over it the same way Dad got over it”? She’ll enable it. I think Randall would say, “OK, let’s send you to a hospital.” That’s what Kevin’s thinking. I don’t know if that would actually happen, because it didn’t work out that way. In my mind’s eye, that’s why he went to Randall and not Kate.
He seemed to be ready take the next step and tell Randall what’s been going on with him, until Randall breaks some unfortunate news about Kate. Is Kevin ready to face his issues head on? Is he ready to go rehab or therapy?
Yeah, that’s a really good question. Without giving you any spoilers, I will tell you that it’s not in Kevin’s personality to reach out and ask for help. It’s Kevin’s personality to bury things and try to deal them on his own. I know people who have gone through this kind of thing and this is not something that you can possibly kick on your own. You need a group, you need help. For him to think that he can kick this on his own is a bit much.