Susan Kelechi Watson said yes to the proposal, and Sterling K. Brown was won over by Tess' heart-to-heart with Randall and Beth.
The third season of This Is Us featured everything from a cheap first date and an equally inexpensive marriage proposal to a premature baby, an alcohol-fueled relapse, and a literal war, plus discoveries of a long-thought-dead uncle and one’s sexuality. EW recently asked the cast members of NBC’s never-not-emotive drama — which received nine Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Drama Series — to share their most challenging scenes to film, and now Mandy Moore & Co. choose their favorite scene from season 3.
Justin Hartley (Kevin)
Hartley is particularly fond of “Songbird Road, Part Two,” specifically the moment of connection that Kevin and Rebecca (Mandy Moore) shared after Kevin became frustrated in his attempt to help his troubled, PTSD-afflicted, substance-addicted uncle Nicky (Griffin Dunne).
“I really liked when Kevin was trying to get his uncle into that hospital for treatment,” says Hartley. “[Nicky] just wasn’t going to go and Kevin needed to walk away and blow off some steam. And then his mom comes down the hall and they have that conversation where he just says, ‘You know, I’m mad at dad.’ That admission. And then the way that she took care of him and that bond that they had. I really like the bond that Rebecca [Mandy Moore] and Kevin have found. It reminds me of what it was when he was really, really young before he decided that he was the black sheep.”
Chris Sullivan (Toby)
Sullivan is partial to the struggle that Toby and Kate (Chrissy Metz) endured during their premature son’s stay in the neonatal intensive care unit.
“I really enjoyed the NICU stuff — being a part of that conversation,” says Sullivan. “My wife and I had 13 babies from into our life just last year through friends and family, five of those — two sets of twins and my nephew — were all in the NICU for an extended period of time. So it was nice to be able to take those things that I’ve learned from friends and family and translate them to the screen. That type of thing is a hard conversation to have if you don’t have an episode of television to start that conversation.”
Sterling K. Brown (Randall)
Brown smiles widely while recalling the scene in which Tess (Eris Baker) ever-so-tentatively comes out to Randall and Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson).
“I love Eris, and she’s a big ball of energy,” he says. “She talks a mile a minute, all the time. She’s so excitable and effervescent, and whatnot. But she had to find a real place of stillness and a well of depth in her soul to admit something to her parents that she was dealing with. Where there was some shame involved and not sure how she would be received and when it all just poured out of her, it was just gorgeous. And I actually had a woman come up to me in the airport and she said, ‘That scene when your daughter came out to you all, I did not have the same level of grace when my daughter came up to me. But in seeing you, I know that I can do better, and I will do.’ And that’s what the show’s about.”
Chrissy Metz (Kate)
Metz fell for the origin story of Jack and Rebecca, who embark on their first date at an amusement park. When it starts to rain, though, Jack is faced with another liquidity issue.
“I loved the moment Jack confesses he didn’t have enough money for the umbrella Rebecca needed on their first date,” says Metz. “If he never set his ego aside to be brutally honest, who knew if there’d ever be the Big Three?”
Milo Ventimiglia (Jack)
Ventimiglia remains partial to the heartbreaking scene in the Vietnam War backstory episode for Jack and Nicky (Michael Angarano), in which a reassuring Jack and a very nervous Nicky went to a bar to watch the draft lottery, only to watch helplessly as Nicky’s number was selected.
“To understand what these young men were up against was terrifying,” says Ventimiglia. “Michael Angarano and I ended up going online on a website and seeing what our draft numbers would have been. I think he was 68. I was 13. I definitely would’ve been going to Vietnam.”
Michael Angarano (Nicky)
Angarano also gravitated toward the ominous draft scene, which he says afforded the series a chance to pay tribute to a historic and charged moment.
“I just loved that scene,” he says. “What an amazing opportunity on the show. I felt like we were memorializing a day that so many people went through, and [TIU consultant/Vietnam veteran/acclaimed author] Tim O’Brien was on set that day. So I think that’s also why it really rings true to me. At the end of it, I felt like we were a very small part of a much grander picture in telling that story. It’s such a convergence plot and character and time. It’s like that show was built for that moment.”
Susan Kelechi Watson (Beth)
Watson always enjoys a fun proposal scene, and Randall’s popping of the question to Beth over nachos was literally cheesy — and the delicious highlight of “R&B” to the actress.
“I thought that was really cute,” she says. “And to see them when they were in the early stages of the relationship — I love that space for them. [I loved] when Beth was like, ‘Okay, do it now,’ and he’s like, ‘What?’ and she’s like, ‘Yeah, do it now. I know you don’t have it—’ and then he pulls out the ring, and she’s like, ‘Oh God, are you kidding me? You actually have the ring right now?’ It’s very easy, simple. It’s not skywriting. It’s not on the Jumbotron, it’s just eating her favorite meal in some restaurant.”
Mandy Moore (Rebecca)
Moore calls the series of scenes from “The Waiting Room” — which gathered the Pearsons in a hospital waiting room for the entire episode — not just her most challenging scenes of the season, but also her favorite.
“I love that episode, the of experience making it,” she says. “I get to be with some of my favorite people on the planet in the confines of this tiny [space]. We never get to spend that kind of time with each other.”
Ron Cephas Jones (William)
Jones lights up when discussing working with his old friend Denis O’Hare in “Six Thanksgivings,” which revealed the origins of the relationship between William and Jesse (O’Hare) as well as their unlikely Thanksgiving meal.
“I’m hoping that’s the door that they open back up,” says Jones. “I’d love to see some more stuff and how that relationship built, what happened to them when [William] left and didn’t tell him that he was leaving…. When you work with a cat like Denis, everything is so easy and intense. The beauty of it is going in and not knowing. It’s really about flying by the seat of your pants because you know you’re working with someone who’s up for the challenge. It was a mutual respect. We just show up and then let the work happen. You know you’re going into the room with a prepared actor that’s going to lift the bar. I think that’s what the show does. Everybody is constantly raising the bar for one another.”
Season 4 of This Is Us premieres Sept. 24 on NBC.
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