This Is Us stars choose their favorite scenes from season 2
Season 3 of This Is Us is almost upon us — the NBC family drama returns Sept. 25 — but before you find out what happens next to the Pearsons, let’s revisit the highlights of season 2, courtesy of the show’s actors. Here, Milo Ventimiglia, Mandy Moore, and the rest of their co-stars choose their standout scenes from the previous season, and they include a dream, a sob story, and a painful confession.
JUSTIN HARTLEY (Kevin)
A high point for Hartley? The bottoming-out of Kevin Pearson. Thee Hollywood actor stuffed down his addictions and feelings so far, he wound up as a sobbing, sad mess of a man in “Number One,” pleading with a doctor that he had slept with the previous night to steal her prescription pad.
“One thing that is hard to get out of my head is when Kevin lost the necklace and he’s begging to get the necklace back,” he says. “He’s thinking he’s literally lost his father — the only thing he has. It’s massively pathetic. Just being a place where Kevin is just not understood by anyone, and it’s kind of his fault the way he goes about stuff.”
MILO VENTIMIGLIA (Jack)
In a Jack-like move, Ventimiglia tries to focus on all the other characters but his, pointing to the trilogy of episodes that focused on each member of the Big Three, and Moore’s performance surrounding Jack’s death. Pressed to isolate a Jack-based highlight, he settles on a scene from “A Manny Splendored Thing” which Jack began taking responsibility for his drinking problem, which included admitting to his daughter, Kate, that he had an addiction, and needed his kids to help him through this.
“That might have been one of the harder moments I had during the whole season,” he says. “And it was only because I’ve spoken to friends of mine who have had to tell their kids that he had a drinking or drug problem, some kind of addiction. To know that they’re risking this hero status and be taken down a notch, but also they can’t lie to their kids anymore — that was a particularly painful moment. But at the same time I didn’t feel like there was any performance in there. Honestly, Milo was gone and Jack was sitting there with his daughter, admitting his faults, and watching it back it’s like, ‘Oh god, it hurts!’ It even hurts me now thinking about it, because I have such pain for this man who knows that he’s probably deeply scarring his daughter and his kids and his family because of his actions.”
SUSAN KELECHI WATSON (Beth)
Watson gravitates toward a scene in the fall finale in which Randall and Beth were in the hallway of Deja’s school, discussing their next move when it came to the foster child that they had fallen for.
“We were talking about having to let her go, and go back to her mom,” she says. “And after fighting, we realized this might be the thing that we have to do. And it’s this crazy conversation — it’s all over the place, and some of it makes sense and some of it doesn’t — but it was such an awesome scene to shoot and to live in. There was just something very real and lived-in about that moment, and it was beautifully directed by Ken Olin. We were just allowed to just find this thing. And Sterling and I had spent a full day together shooting so by the time we got to that point, there was just a beautiful rhythm happening that I will just not forget.”
MANDY MOORE (Rebecca)
Moore opts not to pick a massively emotional moment such as Rebecca being told about Jack’s death or grieving at the funeral, as “that was not a fun place to be.” Instead, she selects one of the lighter moments of the season, when Jack and Rebecca dressed up as Sonny and Cher for Halloween and took the kids trick-or-treating in “The 20’s”.
“I loved that I had just injured my eye,” she remembers. “I cut my eye open and I had a giant black eye that happened to coincide with the perfect episode because we just incorporated that into Cher’s makeup look. There’s a lot of purple eye shadow to sort of balance it all out…. I love when we’re able to show the lighthearted side of childhood for the kids, and making the Halloween costumes. But [Rebecca] still has that really tender moment with Randall on the steps about him finding out that we had lost a baby and that he was told that he was the replacement and a miracle and having to explain all of that to him. It was just one of those multi-layered episodes.”
CHRISSY METZ (Kate)
Metz skips ahead to the opening scene of the season 2 finale, “The Wedding,” as an about-to-be-married Kate dreams about her parents, Jack and Rebecca, renewing their wedding vows on their 40th anniversary in an alternate universe in which Jack never died.
“It’s the ultimate wish fulfillment, and it’s so beautiful to see Jack at that age — to see the family still so madly in love,” she says. “Just to see Kate and Jack at the table when Rebecca is singing ‘Moonshadow’ and the relationship that might have been. It was so hard to do that, I just wanted to cry all day, all day, all day.”
Sterling K. Brown (Randall)
Brown can’t settle on only one moment, so he selects two — the first an intimate one one involving his character. In a scene from “Brothers,” Deja (Lyric Ross) reveals to Randall at the gala why she didn’t not like when Randall touched her, opening up about the abuse at her previous foster home.
“That was the scene that Lyric auditioned for the show with, and she was spectacular,” says Brown. “But she took it to another level when we were shooting. You rarely come across a young performer with that much soul. But even though she’s only 13 years old, it’s clear to me that Lyric Nicole Ross has been here before.”
Sterling K. Brown (Randall)
The second moment hails from “Number One,” when a drunk, reeling Kevin wanders on to his high school football field and offers a play-by-pay of the traumas of his life and wallows in his undeserved good fortune.
“Exquisitely written by KJ Stein, gorgeously shot by Ken Olin, and impeccably acted by Justin Hartley,” says Brown. “It’s one thing to have a ‘monologue’ when you’re talking to another character. It’s another thing when you’re actually talking to yourself. Kevin bared his soul to the only person who could hear him, and it was magnificent!”
CHRIS SULLIVAN (Toby)
Like Metz, Sullivan chooses something from the wedding finale, but his choice moment — playing opposite Dan Lauria, who guest-starred as Toby’s skeptical-of-Kate dad — represented a reunion of sorts.
“Getting a chance to work with Dan Lauria again,” he says. “He and I had our Broadway debut in the same show [Lomardi], so to have him come back and be able to play my father was pretty special.”
Dan Fogelman (This Is Us creator)
The man who engineered the how-Jack-died mystery points not to the tragic events of “Super Bowl Sunday” but to the inciting —or should we say “igniting” — moment of it all. While tidying up the kitchen after a Super Bowl celebration at the end of “That’ll Be the Day,” Jack turned off the Crock-Pot, but the switch malfunctioned, creating a spark that caused the massive blaze that started to lap its way up the staircase as the episode drew to a close.
“I could feel how visceral the reaction was going to be for the audience,” he says. “If tonally we had built this family correctly and this character correctly, something so quiet and so silent and so simple would be so devastating.”
This Is Us season 3 photos
Getting ready for season 3? Click here to see 16 photos from the season premiere, which airs Sept. 25.