After Season 2 finally answered the often-asked question of “How did Jack die?,” Season 3 of “This Is Us” will tackle new unexplored stories, the cast of the NBC hit hinted at the show’s For Your Consideration event on Tuesday.
As for what fans can expect when the series returns this fall, star Mandy Moore told Variety, “I’m excited to get into the weeds of Rebecca and Miguel, I want to know all about that relationship. Personally, I’m excited to see young Jack and Rebecca because that means Milo [Ventimiglia] and I get to have fun hair and makeup and costumes and stuff, anything in the ’70s gets a big thumbs up from me.”
Ventimiglia, Moore’s onscreen counterpart, said, “I’m looking forward to knowing more of Jack’s early 20s when he was in Vietnam. I’m looking forward to always exploring with Mandy Moore, exploring what makes Jack and Rebecca tick at every age and just how Jack’s presence impacts each of his children individually.”
Meanwhile, creator Dan Fogelman said the show would continue to use standalone episodes to further dive into the specifics of each character, after each member of the “Big Three” was given an episode to more fully explore their paths to adulthood in Season 2.
“It’s something we really like doing, it keeps our story fresh, it keeps our audience guessing what they’re going to be tuning into each week,” Fogelman said. “I think sometimes the death of a show that goes for a while is the fact that there’s comfort in knowing what you’re getting every week but there’s also stagnancy, so what we try to do with our plot lines and our characters is keep the stories moving, keep the audiences guessing.”
The FYC event, held at The Theatre at Ace Hotel in Los Angeles, welcomed Fogelman and his cast of Moore, Ventimiglia, Justin Hartley, Chrissy Metz, Susan Kelechi Watson and Chris Sullivan for a screening of the “Super Bowl Sunday” episode and a panel moderated by Variety‘s Executive Editor for TV Debra Birnbaum.
The selected episode featured the long-awaited death of Ventimiglia’s character after the Pearson’s family home went up in flames and Jack suffered a heart attack after inhaling too much smoke. The cast discussed filming the high pressure scenes, including the moment when Moore’s character sees Jack dead in his hospital bed.
Moore said the shoot was all the more emotional because she thought Ventimiglia had left the set to go home for the day and didn’t know he would be a part of the scene. “I walked into the room for the first time and didn’t expect him to be lying on the bed. I had mentally prepared myself for an empty hospital bed, and just having to get to that place myself and as soon as I walked in and saw him it was just so unexpected.” Ventimiglia joked, “It might have been the best acting I’ve ever done.”
Ventimiglia also discussed filming the scenes inside the burning house and being surrounded by real flames, which he said was “one of the most intense stunts I’ve ever done, dealing with the fire and the emotion that goes along with it.” Fogelman shared behind-the-scenes video of the actor rehearsing those high pressure shots with the audience.
Sterling K. Brown was unable to be with his castmates in LA due to a New York premiere for his upcoming film “Hotel Artemis,” but joined in on the conversation briefly via video chat. Brown teased that Season 3 of the show would dive into Kevin and Beth’s cousin forming a relationship, Kate and Toby dealing with depression, and Jack’s time in Vietnam, adding, “it sort of leads you toward the end game of our show as a whole, not the season per se, but the end of the show.” He also joked about the hours of makeup he underwent to portray future Randall, and how he didn’t struggle with revealing “This Is Us” spoilers after acting in “Black Panther.”
To close out the conversation, Fogelman dropped a few more tidbits about the new season, promising more origin stories and more looks at the future of these characters.
Although he admitted most of it isn’t written, he teased, “In my mind it’s the best season of television that’s ever been made. I’m as excited about it as I’ve been about any of our seasons, it’s our biggest and most ambitious.”