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Milo Ventimiglia has earned his second straight Emmy nomination

 for his portrayal of beloved Pearson patriarch Jack in a sophomore season that had him confronting his drinking problem and the long-awaited reveal of Jack’s cause of death.

Ventimiglia has always been bowled over by the emotional requirements of the role, and while talking to EW about his experiences on set, he still gets emotional about the pilot. “The scene where I really realized that I connected with Jack the most was the pilot,” he says. “It was the scene where Jack hears that his wife is okay, but he lost a baby…I remember just standing there and just nodding my head and then feeling the wind taken out of me and from that point on, every time it’s action, it’s not even me, it’s just Jack.”

The actor says he faced a similar experience in season 2 when Jack has to confess his struggles with alcoholism to teenage Kate. “When I stepped into that moment, again, Milo takes a back seat and it’s just Jack in this moment,” he says. “It was crushing. It was heartbreaking to feel what Jack felt and the fear he must’ve experienced knowing he’s taking himself out of that hero status for his little girl.”

GALLERY: See all of the season 3 This Is Us photos

Ventimiglia could take home Emmy gold on Monday, Sept. 17 — the awards air live starting at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT on NBC (check out the full list of nominees here).

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