Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera.
In today’s episode, Variety’s executive editor of TV Debra Birnbaum talks with “This is Us” stars Sterling K. Brown, Chrissy Metz, and Milo Ventimiglia. The three actors have all been nominated for Emmy Awards — out of seven acting nominations for the show and 10 overall.
“For any show, that’s huge. For a network show to be part of the conversation in that way is absolutely outstanding,” says Brown, pointing out that he was disappointed that the writers didn’t get recognized. “We ain’t coming up with this stuff on our own. … As time goes by, I hope the writers get their due.”
Ventimiglia says that the awards recognition hasn’t changed them at all. “The heart you put into the work is the same as before,” he says. “Showing up with this group of people … it’s a joy.”
Ventimiglia’s Jack so far has only interacted with Randall (Brown), but the actors say they hope they all get to work together in the upcoming season. “I feel like there is a version of time travel with the show,” says Ventimiglia. “It’s on Dan’s mind because I’m definitely in Dan’s ear saying, ‘Hey, I really want to work with everyone, please.'”
Adds Metz, who plays Kate, “The fans really want to see us together.”
They’re back in production on the second season, and they assure that the show is “cooking like Crisco,” says Brown. “You have the smallest amount of fear that there will be a sophomore slump, and you read 201 and you’re like, ‘No.'” He adds, “The stories shift and we go deeper into the past and further into the future.”
Ron Cephas Jones, whose character William passed away last season, is still part of the show, they reveal. “The scenes they come up with for Ron … it’s just right,” says Brown.
Brown says he’s been spending a lot of time in the writers’ room, which has a diverse makeup of scripters of different genders, races, and sexual orientations. “They all throw it all it into the salad bowl, and it all gets shaken around, and you get this beautiful, nutritious, entertaining meal,” he says.
Season 2 will bring the celebration of the 37th birthday of the Big Three, with explorations of the cliffhangers that ended the first season. Kate is exploring her singing career, Randall and Beth are looking into adoption, and Kevin is working on his movie career. “I will be doing a little singing,” says Metz. “It’s an exciting thread and through line for the character.”
As for Jack and Rebecca, “Mom and Dad are trying to figure out how it all went wrong,” says Ventimiglia, who says his storyline picks up right after the big fight. “It’s heartbreaking. And it’s so relevant to what a lot of us experience as people.” He adds, “Jack and Rebecca are working their way back to each other.”
And there’s the inevitable question of Jack’s death. “With Dan Fogelman’s style of writing and storytelling, with every answer there are 20 more questions,” says Ventimiglia. “Very quickly, you’re going to know what happened. … But if you pay attention, really close attention, there are markers and symbols that will help you understand the greater mystery of Jack dying.”
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