The stars of NBC’s This Is Us gathered together last Saturday morning to chow down on pancakes and celebrate the show’s nine nominations for this year's 2019 Emmys. TV Insider was on the scene to congratulate the nominees and chat with the Pearson clan about what to expect in Season 4 of the series that’s both a ratings hit and critically acclaimed.
This Is Us' cast is fully aware fans are dissecting the famous flash-forward scene at the end of last season showing the Pearsons gathered as matriarch Rebecca (Mandy Moore) was nearing the end of her life. The peek into the future raised as many questions as it gave answers.
One of the things we now know about the future is that Rebecca has lived a long life after Jack’s death. Still, it seems her marriage to Miguel (Jon Huertas) didn’t sit well with diehard Jack/Rebecca fans.
“The tough thing for me was that people were upset when it was revealed that Rebecca had remarried,” says Moore, who prefers to use the expression that Rebecca “continued living her life” rather than “moved on.”
“You never move on,” she says. “I don’t think it’s fair that people were upset by her decision. Everyone deserves companionship and love and to not spend a certain portion of their lives by themselves. It doesn’t make the relationship [Rebecca had with Jack] any less relevant or pertinent. That person is never forgotten. It’s just different. Allowing people to have the duality and experience should be welcomed. Everybody deserves happiness.”
Milo Ventimiglia, who plays Pearson patriarch Jack, concurs whole-heartedly.
“Jack doesn’t strike me as a man who’d want to keep Rebecca as his own,” the actor says. “When you love someone, you don’t have ownership of them. You just love them. When Jack’s served his purpose on earth, he feels Rebecca still has to live and find companionship.”
“The Season 3 pickup was incredible,” Sullivan says, “but to be included in a flash-forward — that’s the real job security!”
Metz, however, says Kate not being there doesn’t mean she’s still not around.
“She could be at the dry cleaners,” offers the actress, who also shares that “there was more information that was going to be given [in that scene], but it doesn’t mean that [Kate’s] not there. Nobody’s ever really gone from [the show].”
As for present day this coming season, Kate and Toby will be adjusting to their roles as parents of newborn son Jack. Grandparents Rebecca and Miguel will be nearby for support and occasional diaper duty, trying not to feed into Kate’s insecurities.
“Rebecca is acutely aware that her role as mom and grandmother can get on Kate’s last nerve,” says Moore. “She just wants to be there, but she’s also aware that her presence may cause Kate some anxiety.”
Might there be an inevitable showdown between the two? “We’ve seen that over the last couple of seasons, last season in particular,” notes Moore.
One resolution creator/executive producer Dan Fogelman and his writers gave viewers in the Season 3 finale was Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) and Randall (Sterling K. Brown) choosing to stay together and make their marriage work. The two agreed to start anew, together, in Philadelphia where Beth is opening up her own dance studio.
“I thought that was the best bit of hope to give our audience,” Watson says. “Our fans know this relationship is not over. It has had its ups and downs. It’s a real marriage and they’re in it.”
Pursing her dream of working in the dance world will come at a price – literally – as Beth will be making less money, but she feels showing her daughters Tess (Eris Baker), Annie (Faithe Herman), and Déjà (Lyric Ross) that pursuing dreams is important.
“It probably makes a stronger impression on a child to see you happy and fulfilled rather than to be perceived as what’s outwardly successful,” Watson notes. “[Having] joy is what resonates with people.”
As characters move into the future, Jack’s memory and presence remains – especially with Ventimiglia continuing to film scenes that provide insight into Jack’s life.
“I play Jack in [his] present,” says the actor. “The hardest part is [playing] the Jack that’s bottled up. He’s holding things back from his family because he doesn’t want to burden them with his demons and his darker side. That’s the saddest part of Jack’s early death. [His family] knew him, but there was so much more to know.”
Kevin (Justin Hartley) can relate to that part of his father. “Sometimes you find yourself alone in a crowded room and that’s the most difficult place you can be,” says Hartley. “I think Kevin finds himself there a lot. It’s hard for him to find someone to sort of be able to talk to and get through stuff.
“[But] here’s the cool thing about Kevin…he sobered up and then, he had a relapse, but he’s reflective and he’s looking back, asking what happened, what went wrong? Now, he’s armed with tools [to use] going forward. He’s better equipped to deal with this thing in a healthier way.”
Speaking of crowded rooms, The CW appears to be assembling quote a roster of talent for its upcoming Crisis On Infinite Earths Arrowverse crossover. Should producers reach out to Hartley, a former star of Smallville, would he open to donning Oliver Queen’s Green Arrow suit?
“I’m always open,” he responds. “[I have] tons of fond memories doing that show. It was a great time in my life.” Hartley suspects his current bosses would be amenable – scheduling permitting – to letting him out to do a guest spot.
“I’m such a lucky guy,” he says. “I get to work on this show and work with these people – not just on-camera, but the people who run the show and the studio, too.”
This Is Us, Season 4 Premiere, Tuesday, September 24, 9/8c, NBC