In an interview with People Magazine, the actor explained how his character’s good intentions could turn out to be anything but in the weeks ahead.
“There’s some expression about that: a guest can actually start to go bad after a while in the fridge. I think he’s going to overstay his welcome,” Griffin explained.
“He’s a difficult guy. I remember my father coming to stay with me and my daughter, and because of his age and particular quirks, everything revolved around him in the time that he’s staying. He has to have things just so and I have a feeling Nicky’s going to be a guy like that. His eccentricities will take center stage,” the actor shared.
In portraying the only original member left of his family with late brother Jack (Milo Ventimiglia), Griffin has embodied a man with a troubled history who has become an important part of the Pearson backstory as the family’s only link to Jack’s past.
Moving forward, Nicky will remain an important part of the lives of his nieces and nephews, but how much will his presence upend their lives?
One Small Step explored Nicky’s backstory
The show’s writers used the 1969 moon landing as a metaphor throughout the episode.
Before he was drafted to serve in the Vietnam War, Nicky (Michael Angarano) was fascinated by Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong’s moon landing. He still lived at home with his and Jack’s parents Stanley (Peter Onorati) and Marilyn (Laura Niemi), and worked at a vet clinic.
Nicky fell in love with Sally, his co-worker at the clinic. She was a free spirit who lived by her heart. This spoke to Nicky, who was afraid of change. As their relationship progressed, she asked him to leave with her and drive to Woodstock, New York, to see the iconic festival and then move on to California, where they could live at a friend’s farm and take care of the animals.
On the night he was to leave, Nicky froze and never ran off with Sally. He would soon be drafted to Vietnam, where he became bitter and angry over his past mistakes. His brother Jack, always protective of his sensitive younger brother, signed up to serve to continue to help Nicky, who didn’t want a relationship with him.
“I think he had been in such a self-destructive spiral and his brother was trying to help him so much, in such a way that sometimes you could help someone who is troubled and needs help. But you could also do it in such a way where the one who is troubled just feels so condescended to and it reinforces their own self-loathing,” Griffin said.
Nicky’s future as part of the Pearson clan
Griffin explained that moving into the future, Nicky will continue to be a part of the family. This Is Us viewers saw him in a flash-forward seated at Rebecca’s hospice bedside.
“I don’t know how he got there but he seemed to be, sort of, the patriarch. Nicky has a wedding ring that they cut to and I wish I could even tell you, “Oh I know who he married and I can’t tell you,” but I can’t tell you because I don’t know who I’m married to,” the actor admitted.
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on NBC.