Sitting down with actress Freida Pinto for Variety's "Actors on Actors" series, Ventimiglia revealed he was met with surprise when he first walked in to audition for the part.
"Apparently I wasn't who they were looking for," he told Pinto. "They wanted somebody completely different, and I walked in, you know, with my beard and my long hair, and set my motorcycle helmet down, and they went, 'Who's this guy?'"
Fortunately, they were intrigued, and he soon won them over.
"I think they just saw something different that someone who had practiced the words," the actor said. "And they picked me."
Interestingly, we may owe Robert De Niro gratitude in a roundabout way. As Ventimiglia explained, his long hair worked for the part, and he had it that way because he emulates the older actor in growing out his beard and hair in between jobs. It sounds like the look helped him stand out, and for that, we are extremely grateful.
Watch the interview below.
"This Is Us" returns for its second season this fall.