NBC’s breakout drama “This is Us” was feted at the Paleyfest on Saturday (March 18). The cast and showrunners reflected on the surprising success of the freshman season and previewed what is in store for the Pearson clan. The peacock net was so impressed by the ratings that it has given this family drama a two-season renewal, which gives them a lot of latitude as to future storylines.
Heading up the panel were Milo Ventimiglia and Mandy Moore, who play Jack and Rebecca, the parents of three children that we see in both flashbacks and present-day. The actors who play them as adults — Sterling K. Brown (Randall), Justin Hartley (Kevin) and Chrissy Metz (Kate) — were also there as were Ron Cephas Jones, who plays Randall’s biological father William, Susan Kelechi Watson, who is his wife Beth, Chris Sullivan who plays Kate’s fiance Toby, Jon Huertas who recurs as Miguel, best friend to Jack and second husband of Rebecca and TV vet Gerald McRaney who guests as the doctor who delivered the twins.
Joining their cast onstage were executive producers Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, who have co-directed five of the 18 episodes of the first season, including the pilot which was screened for this audience of adoring fans
Moore and Ventimiglia readily admitted they were still recovering from last Tuesday’s gut-wrenching finale. For Ventimiglia, whose character dies in still mysterious circumstances, the fight scenes with his leading lady were especially tough. “As kind and nice as Mandy Moore is, I don’t think anyone in her life has ever said things like that to her face.”
As for how Jack dies, the cast knows but is keeping quiet. Emmy winner Brown (“The People vs. O.J. Simpson”) did refute one theory that he died in the 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center by pointing out that the show is set in Pittsburgh.
Ficarra weighed in on the subject by hinting that the sophomore season will show us a different side of Jack and, indeed, many of the characters. As he explained, “The great thing about this show is, it’s like a spider web. We can go off in all directions.”
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