“It’s a full episode,” Brown, 41, tells PEOPLE and EW Editorial Director Jess Cagle in the latest episode of The Jess Cagle Interview (streaming now on the People/Entertainment Weekly Network) of the Sept. 26 return of his hit NBC drama.
Brown — who won an Emmy for his portrayal of prosecutor Chris Darden in The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story last year and is currently nominated for his work on This Is Us — says his character Randall will begin the show’s sophomore season pushing his wife Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) to adopt a child like Randall was adopted.
“He wants to sort of fulfill the legacy of his parents Jack and Rebecca, honor William’s [Randall’s birth father (Ron Cephas Jones)] memory, by adopting,” says Brown. “Beth doesn’t quite see it exactly the same way as Randall does, so they’re having a conversation, if you will, around this whole adoption issue.”
Unsure of how to proceed, Randall goes to seek the counsel of his mother (Mandy Moore).
“She tells him that it wasn’t automatic for her. When she first saw me as a baby she had to be convinced by Jack (Milo Ventimiglia), and Jack was just insistent, and he pushed, and sometimes there has to be that person in the marriage who pushes, who sort of guides the other person in the direction that they need to be,” says Brown. “She talks about how this stranger became her child, this child became her life, and that’s … Randall.”
“The adoption storyline is big and the way that we go about it transforms from Randall’s original perception of how he thinks it should be,” Brown continues. “So Beth and Randall come up with a compromise together for what works for them as a couple, similar to how Rebecca and Jack did — but it looks a little bit different.”
And Brown adds that his costars Chrissy Metz, who stars as Randall’s sister Kate, and Justin Hartley, who stars as Randall’s brother Kevin, are also in stages of big transition in season 2.
“The storylines are great because you have Kevin and his newfound career, or like resurgence of his film career, simultaneously trying to balance that with his relationship with Sophie,” says Brown, who is married to his Stanford University sweetheart, Ryan Michelle Bathe, and their sons. “Trying to find balance as an actor right now I can say is one of the most challenging things about ‘success’ because you want to be able to give everyone the time that they deserve, professionally and personally. And so, I got two kids at home, 6 and 2. I got a wife of 11 years who’s also in this business as well, so I empathize with Kevin on the journey that he takes throughout season 2.”
Brown says Kate’s burgeoning singing career is actually going to create a bit of conflict between the mother and daughter on the show.
“It’s something that she and her mother sort of shared with one another … and it’s interesting too because the relationship between mothers and daughters, like mothers and sons is like, we’re simpatico. But mothers and daughters can often have a sort of friction-full relationship, so we’ll see how this singing sort of brings up that tension between the two of them.”
But Brown says the tension is worth it for fans to get to hear Metz sing.
“She’s got a beautiful voice,” he says. “Chrissy Metz can sang.”
Watch Sterling K. Brown’s full episode of The Jess Cagle Interview before season 2 of This Is Us premieres Sept. 26 on NBC.
—With PATRICK GOMEZ