Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera.
In this episode, Variety’s executive editor of TV Debra Birnbaum sat down with “This Is Us” star Mandy Moore and show creator Dan Fogelman to talk about the hit NBC show’s second season, and preview what’s ahead for season 3.
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Fogelman said the show’s popularity boost during the first season had the writers and crew working with their backs against the wall trying to make each episode, but credited the cast with making it easier for the writing team.
“My first real jobs were in animation, and the coolest part about writing for a Pixar or Disney movie is the characters can kind of do anything because there’s not this human limitation,” Fogelman said. “When we’re writing for these guys now, I feel very comfortable writing a very intensive monologue for all of them that’s a page-and-a-half long and that has elements of touching and funny. I know they can all deliver stuff without it becoming overly saccharine.”
Moore said the cast was always surprised at what the writers came up with whenever they read through the scripts, and she’s already “blown away” by what Fogelman has told her is in store for Season 3.
“With a show like this, Dan and our writers have to sort of know the big picture of what’s going to happen over the course of five or six seasons,” Moore said. “It seems overwhelming to me with an ensemble like this and so many stories to service and so many directions you could go.”
Along with the younger cast members, the two also praised the editors for their work in order to create a more natural-feeling show.
“We can’t be cutting at a more traditional network pace we can’t be chopping up performances, we can’t be cutting to everyone a their exact lines of dialogue,” Fogelman said. “This has to feel organic, because the script and the words are a little heightened, we don’t talk as perfectly in real life, this is a tinge more romanticized. So the way to own that is to not also manufacture that on top of that.”
He praised Moore’s “stunning” delivery of the scene where she delivers the news to Miguel about Jack’s death — including the take that made it to air, where she didn’t cry at all. “You can see her chin quivering, she’s finding power but she’s also gone,” he said. “I think it’s so cool and so powerful. It’s one take, no cutting.”
The two also teased what’s ahead for season 3, including tracing Moore’s Rebecca in two different time periods, one right in the aftermath of Jack’s death. “She’s picking up the pieces, and it’s not going well,” said Fogelman.
And the other is the courtship period with a “young, vivacious” Rebecca who has “her whole life ahead of her with the guy of her dreams.”
“I can’t wait,” said Moore.
Moore, who spends ample time in hair and makeup to get transformed from her 20s to her 60s — is going to play four different ages this year, including a “secret” in-between age that we haven’t seen before.
“I’m excited to live in the younger world, where they have to make me look younger,” joked Moore. “I’m down for that kind of work. “