Ron Cephas Jones Q&A: ‘This Is Us’
“It’s a baffling thing,” divulges Ron Cephas Jones as we chat via webcam (watch the exclusive video above) about the success of “This Is Us,” NBC’s breakout drama for this season. “It’s one of those things that hits a core, and I think it has a lot to do with allowing people to feel a lot of feelings that most of us… don’t want to feel in the course of our life.” Created by Dan Fogelman, this program tells the story of a large, diverse family over several decades. Jones plays William, a man dying of cancer who reconnects in his last days with the son (Sterling K. Brown) he abandoned as an infant. The ensemble cast also includes Milo Ventimiglia, Mandy Moore, Chrissy Metz, Justin Hartley, Susan Kelechi Watson, and Chris Sullivan.
“He’s a flawed man,” states Jones, “but a very intelligent, artistic, loving man who made some mistakes in his past life.” As the season goes on, we gain new insights into William’s life: the relationship to his mother, the promising music career he squandered, the romance that led to his son’s birth. The role gave Jones “an opportunity as an actor to pull back those layers.” He adds, “I realized that so much of the man is inside of me, and my history, and the people and men that I know over the years, from my father to my uncles, to mentors… William is a culmination of all those men I grew up with.”
Jones has appeared for decades on both the stage and screen, including the films “He Got Game,” “Sweet and Lowdown,” “Half Nelson,” and “Across the Universe.” In addition to his Best Drama Supporting Actor bid for “This Is Us,” he is also on the Emmy ballot in the Drama Guest Actor category for “Mr. Robot” and “The Get Down.” He also had a recurring role on “Luke Cage” last year.