'We’re going to go into his previous stories — things we didn’t know about him and didn’t see,' says Dan Fogelman

By Dan Snierson
August 03, 2017 at 11:29 AM EDT
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If you are both a This Is Us fan and a slow mourner, perhaps you still dab tears from your eyes at the thought of William’s hospital goodbye at the end of “Memphis.” Indeed, that episode ended up as a three-box affair. The third-to-last episode of the NBC family drama’s first season may be where you last saw Randall’s terminally ill biological father alive, but you can take solace in the fact that you will be seeing him on the show moving forward. A lot. And probably in a lot of different kinds of ways.

“He’s going to play a very big part of our story, both as young William [played by Jermel Nakia] and [older William],” series creator Dan Fogelman tells EW.

Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Fogelman instructs you to look no further than Randall’s other father, Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) — who, in addition to flashbacks, appeared to Randall via hallucination and dream in season 1 — to get a sense of how the dearly departed William (Ron Cephas Jones) will factor into the show. (Though, of course, Jack integrates more organically into stories in the past as he was present with the Pearsons throughout the 80s and first half of the 90s). He envisions different kinds of scenes with the Jones-era William, some as dream-like, others in flashback form. “There might be a conversation that a character might have with him, imagining he’s there,” says Fogelman. “But he’s not only going to exist as a ghost. We’re also going to go into his previous stories — things we didn’t know about him and didn’t see — so very much the way that Jack lives in the show, even though we know he’s already gone, is very much the way that William can.”

That’s good news for Jones, who, after learning William’s fate in “Memphis,” wondered how the character would remain in the story. “As an actor, that was the first thing that I was thinking and hoping and praying for, which ended up being the case,” he told EW back in March. “I have all the scenarios that all the fans have, or you might imagine. It could go so many different ways. There’s a chunk of his life that we haven’t explored. There’s those moments where Randall [Sterling K. Brown] has dreams. There are moments where they just do raw flashbacks to build story. They’ve been so creative over there, the writers and Dan have been so ingenious, there’s no telling what he’s been cooking up in the lab this time around, you know? But I imagine and I’m sure it’s going to be more of that and even better, so I’m excited about it.”

The Pearson saga resumes on Sept. 26 with the season 2 premiere of This Is Us, which Fogelman says contains a “huge piece of the puzzle” about Jack’s death.

Episode Recaps

NBC’s beloved era-hopping drama tells the story of the Pearson family through the years.
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  • TV Show
seasons
  • 4
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  • Tuesdays at 9:00pm
Premiere
  • 09/20/16
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