Ron Batzdorff/NBC
Dan Snierson
January 25, 2017 AT 09:55 AM EST

You were there at the funeral shoot. What were the other cast members saying to you when they were filming this scene? What was it like to go to your own funeral? 
It was surreal because I’m staring at my face and urn, in Hollywood Forever Cemetery. But at the same time, I knew that how Dan and Ken [Olin, the director] have been talking about how they wanted it to be shot and shown, it was a mystery. They didn’t want to give away too much. But… it was a somber moment like anything else… I never want to get in the way, but I’d show up on off times and I photograph. I was there, and I was trying to stay out of Mandy’s eye line, but I got this photo of Mandy and the kids, and oh my God, it was like… you just see pain in her eyes, and it hurt me. It hurt me to witness that.

How somber was that shoot? Were there moments of levity when you stopped filming?
No, it just kind of felt somber. But also, I know what it’s like to play those moments over a casket where you’re addressing a group of people and those that are close to you are laying there deceased. And I know how difficult it is in real life to do that as well, so I didn’t want to get in the way as Milo. Because I think there is a bit of magic where I truly have to believe that these events are happening in order to give a believable performance. So, even though I knew that I wanted to be there to document, I tried to make myself as invisible as possible, just so that even if Mandy or the kids saw me, it didn’t pull them out of the moment, because it was so important for the character. And honestly, at a certain point, I did kind of like fade back. I don’t need to be in anyone’s way or anything because the work is more important than me grabbing a photo.

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Kate has a lot of emotions bottled up and there was certainly that cathartic yell during the drum circle. What has loosened in her? Where are we going to go from there?
The biggest thing for Kate is learning to truly love herself. And I think if you truly love yourself, then you can choose to do better for yourself. You can keep your health. You can surround yourself with people you love. Toby has had to work so hard to let her know that he loves her. I mean, even she couldn’t say she loved him when he was going into surgery and he’s like, “I’m in love with you.” And then, “Oh, God! What is that big needle???” So that cathartic moment loosens the idea that Kate needs to participate a little bit more, and move on from past pains, and accept that people are truly there for her and loving her.

Let’s talk about something lighter, which is Jack’s idea, God bless him, to want to go for kid number four — or at least a dog. Will a joint Madonna/Princess Bride/magician party cure you of that desire pretty quickly?
Yeah. And I think also it’s knowing the impact, that it would take the toll on his wife and the strain on their financials and their marriage. There’s a lot. The heart of wanting to have another baby because three have turned out so great. And three are also moving to that age where they are going to really be their own people. The little girl’s not going to need dad as much or the little boy’s going to be like, “Dad!” and then they roll their eyes and they walk away. A little bit comes out of the necessity of being a father, but it’s also Jack understanding that just because a child doesn’t depend on you in that way, physically like, “Feed me. Physically change my diapers. Make sure I don’t die,” they’re still kids. They need to learn lessons, and I think it’s an adjustment for Jack to know that he has to step into a different realm of his fatherhood.

The heartbreaker, though, was definitely —
Kate.

That “Strike a pose” moment, with Kate then saying, “Dad, I think I want to be alone right now.”
Yeah. God, she was so good in that scene. Really great. We were in the hair and makeup trailer beforehand before the day started and she said, “I’m scared.” I said, “You’re scared?” She’s like, “Yeah.” I said, “Why are you scared?” She goes, “What if I mess up?” I said, “Oh, no, you’re not going to mess up.” I said, “It’s the best part of it being a set. We want you to mess up, and then you do it over again, then you mess up and you do it over again, and you get this perfectly imperfect performance.”

And I said, “Let’s do one pass where you’re mad at me. Let’s do one pass where you’re mad at mom and you want me to know that you’re mad at mom. Let’s do a pass where you’re mad at your brother. Let’s do a pass where you’re sad. Let’s do another version where you want to be happy, you’re trying to be happy, but you’re crushed and heartbroken.” And I said, “Now, this last one, put them all together and mix them all up.” And then at the end, I’m like, “Are you afraid now?” She’s like, “No.” And it was funny, I got messages from Dan in the editing room and he’s like, “Where did this performance come from?” [Laughs.] And I was like, “She was afraid, and we made her not afraid.”

That’s a great story.
I want everyone that I’m in a scene with to shine and to just be the best they can ever be. And I think it was such a beautiful thing for Mackenzie, and such a heartbreaking moment for Kate to have this realization or this belief that maybe people just show up to her party to go see her brother. And how crushing that must be. Where does she go? Where is her comfort?

Is a dog negotiable down the road?
Oh, yeah. Yeah, Jack’s getting a dog. And that’s the thing I always wondered: Does he want it for the kids or does Jack want it for himself? I feel like anything that Jack can do to bring his family together and closer, and just more wrapped on top of one another, he’s going to do it. And I think a dog absolutely does that, no matter who’s walking it or picking up after it or feeding it. I think Jack just always wants to keep his family together.

To find out who was just cast as William’s mother in an upcoming episode, click here.

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