As part of PaleyFest, the Paley Center for Media featured a lively Q&A with the cast of the NBC family drama, “This Is Us,” which centers on Jack Pearson (Milo Ventimiglia), a devoted husband to Rebecca (Mandy Moore) and loving father to their three kids.
Interweaving stories of the couple’s past and present, “This Is Us” follows Pearson siblings Kate (Chrissy Metz), Kevin (Justin Hartley) and adopted son Randall (Sterling K. Brown, who won an Emmy last year for his supporting role in “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”) through their childhood and as adults.
“The great thing about the show is it’s like this spider web, and we’re able to go off in all directions and delve deep into people,” executive producer Glenn Ficarra said at the event, adding that new scribes have recently been added to the show’s writers room to expand on future show ideas.
Most scenes take place in 1980, 1989, 1990 and the present day, which is why fans already know that Jack dies and Rebecca eventually marries his best friend, Miguel (Jon Huertas).
“We’ve gotten to see Jack from a certain perspective this season,” Mr. Ficarra said. “I think we might get him from another perspective in other characters more going forward.”
While the show’s finale ended with a cliffhanger — Jack and Rebecca having a bad fight — Mr. Ventimiglia assured the Paley audience that the couple’s separation was not how Miguel gets romantically involved with Rebecca.
“Jack and Miguel are the closest of friends,” Mr. Ventimiglia said. “I’m sure Miguel would be as heartbroken to know that Jack and Rebecca are going through a hard time.
“It’s not an opening that he’s waiting for. Miguel’s an honorable guy.”
Asked by a fan where he drew inspiration for his character, Mr. Ventimiglia pointed to his own parents seated in the audience.
“There’s not a moment in my life that I don’t think about how [my father] raised my sisters and I, and what he gave me just as a man,” Mr. Ventimiglia said, his voice choking with emotion.
Mr. Brown discussed how his character, Randall, has taken the ailing from cancer of his biological father, William (Ron Cephas Jones), as the impetus behind declaring to his wife, Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) that he wanted another child.
“It’s clearly the beginning of a conversation between a husband and wife,” Mr. Brown said. “It’s something that’s on his heart when he reflects back on the loss of William and being raised by Jack and Rebecca — recognizing what a true gift he had [and] wanting to bring that full circle.”
Mr. Brown said he and his own real-life wife have discussed that very idea.
“We have two boys at home,” Mr. Brown said. “My wife and I would talk like, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to have a little girl?’”
“I don’t know how much she is ready for an adoption,” Miss Watson said of her character, Beth, adding that Beth might perhaps be more open to adopting and raising a teenager.
While William did die in a much-discussed episode last season, due to the way each episode intersperses past with present, the character will still be returning for season 2 in flashback scenes.
Beyond that, Mr. Ficarra and fellow executive producer John Requa wouldn’t tease much else about the upcoming storylines for the second season this fall.
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