This Is Us stars tease Miguel and Rebecca's fracture: 'One of the saddest moments'
- TV Show
The final season of This Is Us lurks just around the corner, promising resolution to several burning questions: How does Kate (Chrissy Metz) wind up married to Phillip (Chris Geere)? What will Randall (Sterling K. Brown) do to become a "rising star"? Who is arriving in the white car at Kevin's house years from now? Of course, there's another long-gestating mystery that fans have been eager for the show to explore: How and why did Rebecca (Mandy Moore) and Jack's best bud, Miguel (Jon Huertas), part ways sometime after Jack died before later reuniting and marrying?
"Mandy and I are really excited," Huertas tells EW. "We have discovered over the years that we have pretty great chemistry and we make each other laugh like nobody else. What I can tease is that the chemistry that Mandy and I have — we'll see that same chemistry with Miguel and her. I think the audience will understand how something as profound as a relationship with between a best friend and his best friend's widow could even happen. And the way that the writers have gone about it, it's so beautiful. We take our time, and it's just beautifully told."
Huertas and Moore hint that the circumstances under which Miguel and Rebecca go their separate ways will pack heartbreak. "It's one of the saddest moments that I've felt as a character, as an actor, and even as an audience member and a fan of the show, too," declares Huertas. "This moment was so tough, so sad, that I think [it] will really help propel people into having their minds open to, 'Oh my God. We kind of want these two together.' As weird as it was in season 1, episode 2 to see these two together, this moment, I think, will make people go, 'They should be together.'"
"There's a surprise," he adds. "It surprises all of the other characters as well. And that's what causes the — it's not a rift, it's just a, 'Hey, we've gotta look at this differently. This is something different what we're feeling, what we're experiencing.'"
Moore recalls the heft of emotion that accompanied the filming of said moment. "We shot this scene a couple weeks ago and it gutted me," she reports. "It's so beautiful and so simple. Rebecca and Miguel collectively reach this boiling point where neither of them can ignore that there's sort of this unspoken chemistry. And someone needs to do something about it. And you'll see how that unfolds. But it's heartbreaking and so true to life."
Of course, these two later reconnect and wind up walking down the aisle. And the challenges haven't stopped on the other side of the altar. While serving as Rebecca's rock, Miguel has weathered cold fronts from the Big Three (see: Kevin, Pilgrim Rick) and embraced the fact that Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) was the big love of her life. And as Rebecca continues her struggles with early onset dementia, he will further cement his place in the Pearsons. "There has to be understanding sometimes within a family about what their role is," says Huertas. "Sometimes when a stepfather comes in at the kids' development age — 9, 10 — he can be a father. But when they get together, the Big Three are grown. Rebecca has gone through the craziest stuff of any matriarch, and as much as he stuck up for her in the past, especially with his own family, Miguel's finally going to get his just due, and people [will] understand why he has been the type of character he is."
That's a stark contrast from the frosty fan reaction that Huertas received in season 1, when Miguel was viewed as the man who zeroed in on his best friend's grieving wife. "I love the challenge of turning the audience and winning people over," he says. "At the beginning, the hate tweets, all that stuff was crazy. I had never experienced that before as an actor. You always want your characters to be likable. Now I get stopped on the street. I get tweets or on Instagram, people say that they actually love Miguel, they love who he is to the Pearson family. That's a testament to the writers and their plan, because at the beginning I was like, 'Hey guys.. what are we doing? I don't want to be the guy who nobody likes on the show.'"
The woman that everybody loves — Rebecca — is facing down a debilitating illness that will rob her of her memories. Viewers are bracing for sadness, as is Moore, who is bidding farewell to the show and to a role that has brought critical admiration and an Emmy nomination. "We know the inevitable road that this is going down, and I am just cherishing every moment," says Moore. "It starting to feel more and more real. We're not quite at the halfway point [of filming season 6], but just about there. Every little word in the script is triggering to me, because there's just a lot of reflection. While Rebecca reflecting back on her life, it's coinciding with me reflecting back on my experience with this show and everything's taken to reach this point. So it's like this dual sense of grieving, of impending loss."
Will Rebecca's story be gutting in season 6? "Gutting in a beautiful way," she responds. "Gutting in real-life unfolding in the way that it does for all of us. All of the expectations and questions and all of that is going to finally culminate. I think people will be really satisfied with what Dan has in store for how the show ties up."
And is there anything in Rebecca's arc that surprised the actress? "Maybe who she chooses to help guide her," teases Moore, "if something were to happen to Miguel."
Could that be why Jack's brother, Nicky (Griffin Dunne), is at her bedside in the distant future, as opposed to Miguel? Or is her rock about to roll in? That's another mystery to be resolved in the final season, which kicks off Jan. 4 at 9 p.m. on NBC.
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