Ron Cephas Jones Interview: ‘This Is Us’
Ron Cephas Jones is finally finding the level of recognition he has hoped for after decades in the industry. His guest role as Randall’s (Sterling K. Brown) biological father William Hill on “This Is Us” has already netted him three consecutive Emmy nominations, winning once, and he could be on his way to another in a few weeks. He also plays Octavia Spencer‘s father on the AppleTV+ series “Truth Be Told” and had a role in “Dolemite Is My Name” last year. “I just love doing the work and consistently being nominated and winning just says to me that people are acknowledging the work, saying ‘whatever the case may be, Ron’s work deserves to be noticed,'” says Jones in an exclusive new interview with Gold Derby. “People are actually noticing my work and that’s what I’ve waited a long time for.” Watch the interview above.
Jones returned for two episodes of this fourth season of “This Is Us.” One was “Storybook Love,” which featured William telling Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) in a flashback about his anxiety, relating it to Randall’s own struggles with anxiety. The other is “After the Fire,” Jones’s Emmy submission for Best Drama Guest Actor in which Randall imagines two different timelines of what his life would have been like if Jack survived. In one scenario, teenage Randall meets William with the help of his parents and they all help him get clean and integrate him into the family. The other finds William rejecting Randall completely. Jones found playing that colder version of William to be fascinating, as opposed to the friendlier version we’ve come to know. “You got to see another side of who William might have been,” explains Jones. “The whole idea of that scene was so different, slamming the door in his face and displaying that sort of seclusive, angry, resentful sort of person, which is the total opposite of what we know of William.”
For that scene, he intentionally looked past Niles Fitch, the actor who plays teenage Randall, instead focusing on Milo Ventimiglia as Jack, as a way of not acknowledging any possibility that Randall might be his son. The “best-case scenario” version was ironically harder to play because of how William is “trying to be impressive but really having nothing to impress him with.” This episode allowed Jones to show a full range of who William might have been if things had turned out just a little bit different. The actor likes to think that William would have been more receptive and warm in general, giving the kind of energy that audiences have fallen in love with over four seasons. The actor doesn’t know if he’ll be back for Season 5 of “This Is Us” but he is at the ready whenever Dan Fogelman and company need him.