The second season of This Is Us could easily be renamed This Is Us: Kevin or This Is Us: Kate, and so on. Each episode, one character gets their moment to shine—and on Tuesday’s, it was Rebecca’s turn. For Mandy Moore, it was a turning point in Rebecca’s journey: “I feel like she’s able to have that more fully flushed-out role, where she gets to step up to the plate and have some of the winning moves that usually [is reserved] for Jack. I’m really glad that she’s able to have those moments, too.”
To continue the baseball analogies, by the time the credits rolled on Tuesday’s episode, Moore had pitched a perfect game. With the help of her cast members, she delivered every gesture and action beautifully, culminating with that heartbreaking split scene in the hospital with babies Randall and Tess.
Aside from finding out how she did it so effortlessly over different decades, we had plenty of other questions, too. When will we see Miguel and Rebecca reconnect in real life, instead of just on Facebook? Will Kate name her baby after Jack since Randall didn’t? And should we get ready to know a whole other set of Pearson kids when toddler Kate, Kevin, and Randall make their debut next week? Here, Moore answers all of that and more.
On the most recent episode, we discovered that Rebecca and Miguel reconnected after eight years thanks to Facebook. Up until that point, did you know any details about how they came to be a couple?
Mandy Moore: No, I didn’t have any idea about this revelation. This was news to me when I first read the script, as was Jack’s brother being revealed. I had heard rumors of it, and it had been hinted around, but sometimes we don’t know specific details until we get the full script. I had my own running theory of what unfolded because I kind of needed those answers as an actor—so did Jon Huertas, who plays Miguel—but it did differ a little bit, obviously, from this. It’s new information for us, too.
Have you started filming any scenes where we pick up from these Facebook messages?
Mandy: No, and I don’t think that’s going to be addressed until next season. That’s what I’ve been told.
In the episode, Rebecca was wearing a wedding ring the entire time, which I assumed was from her marriage to Miguel. Obviously, we know now it isn’t. Do you think she’s been wearing her wedding ring from Jack since he died eight plus years ago, or—and hear me out—could she have gotten married to someone else during this time and been in a very lonely marriage?
Mandy: [Laughs] That’s a great theory, but no, that’s not the case at all. Rebecca really is in a terribly lonely spot, but I think she never took off her ring. I think she still considers herself a Pearson, even after she married Miguel. I mean, I’ve always sort of operated—not that it’s known or talked about, maybe it will be somewhere down the line—that she still has the last name Pearson. I don’t think she took Miguel’s name. It’s important for her to feel connected to [Jack]—that’s why she still wears the necklace—so it’s not weird she still wears her wedding ring. That’s how she feels connected to him.
Do you have any intel on what happened to Miguel’s ex-wife, Shelly? She and Rebecca were friends even after her divorce to Miguel, but we don’t even know if she’s alive in the present day.
Mandy: That’s very true! I don’t want to speculate, because I’m sure that will be addressed and talked about. Dan has told us that season three will focus a lot more on Miguel and Rebecca’s courtship, so I’m absolutely positive that Shelly will factor in. They are friends, and they are somewhat close friends. I don’t think they’re best friends, but I’m curious what happened there. At one point the couples were friends, so that’s a mystery to me.
It’s an interesting dynamic with women, too, because it’s happened before where a former spouse ends up with a friend’s former spouse after one dies.
Mandy: Oh yeah, it feels a little too convenient, though, for Shelly to have passed away. It’s probably a tricky dynamic, considering they are divorced and Rebecca and Miguel find their way together down the road.
Let’s talk about Tess’ birth, when Randall tells Rebecca he had Jack and Jasmine picked out as possible names. What’s interesting is that he and Beth chose not to name their second child, Annie, after Jack either. That makes me think that Kate will name her baby after him, which might help Rebecca and Kate connect again.
Mandy: Interesting! I like your way of thinking! [Laughs] I do! You’ll just have to continue watching this season to see how it all unfolds, but I think that’s a great way to honor her father. I definitely support that.
When will Rebecca find out Kate is pregnant?
Mandy: It’s going to be explored in the next couple of episodes. Not next week, but it will be explored in episodes 8, 9, and 10. [You’ll see] Kate telling her family and everybody’s reactions. I love that this season is starting to really connect the dots between Rebecca and Kate, and where this disruption and disconnection in their relationship stems from. But, also, I love that a pregnancy, in theory, is able to bring mother and daughter together. I hope that that’s the case for them. I want to see them put their differences aside and celebrate this really beautiful moment in her life.
Speaking of which, what was your thoughts when Kate lashed out at Rebecca following her first gig?
Mandy: The scene was super emotional for me when I read it initially. It just tapped into similar dynamics I have with my own mother, and it really speaks to how complicated it can get between mothers and daughters. No one’s right, and no one’s wrong. It just is. It’s hard to pinpoint what anybody did wrong, but yet they’re totally justified for feeling the way that they do. I don’t fault Kate for being upset with her mom, and I don’t fault Rebecca for what she did with Kate. Rebecca maybe tries a little too hard, but [for Kate] to jump down her mother’s throat…it’s like, again, it’s such a tricky, gray area where you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
Before we move on to next week’s episode, let’s talk about the two hospital scenes where Rebecca met baby Randall and baby Tess for the first time. Are you able to watch your scenes when they air? Because that was one of the most beautiful scenes I’ve ever seen on television.
Mandy: Aww, thank you. I did watch the episode with my man fiancé Taylor Goldsmith because he’s a fan of the show. You’re always so excited to see everybody else’s work, but I find it hard to watch myself. I loved this episode. I love [director] Regina King, and I can’t wait to work with her again, hopefully. I loved the different time period because it’s something new and fresh that we haven’t seen before, and I love Halloween. It’s one of my favorite holidays, and it was so much fun for Milo and I to dress up as Sonny and Cher. All of it was fun to watch unfold.
That last monologue [in the hospital scene] was so tricky because we shot it in pieces. We shot the distant past first, with Rebecca putting her trepidation and fears aside and going to Randall and saying, “We’re going to bring you home, and I’m terrified because I don’t know how to do this.” Then, a week later, we shot the scene in 2008 with me talking to baby Tess for the first time. I delivered those monologues to baby dolls, which makes them even more tricky. There was one shot with baby Randall, I think, where it was a real baby. But with babies, you can only shoot with them for like 20 minutes total. The baby Tess monologue was all delivered to one of those animatronic, little robotic babies that moves and vibrates. It’s really weird. But, yes, I’m really moved by people’s reactions. Don Roos wrote such a remarkable script; as an actor, to get a piece of dialogue like that is what you dream about. To be able to do this sort of weird, like, multi-monologue in two different time periods, intercut with each other, is such a dream. It was a challenge, and I was really excited about it.
Next week we see the big three in their toddler years. Should we get used to seeing a whole new set of kids that will be part of the show going forward?
Mandy: I don’t think that these children in particular…though they are a big part of this coming episode. As you can imagine, it’s really hard with kids. They are one and two years old, and everybody has a different energy that they bring. Some kids love being on a set and around all these new people; some don’t, and that’s totally understandable. I’m sure anytime we have toddlers moving forward, they may be different children episode by episode, so I don’t know if I would get too attached to seeing one face or another. But, yes, we’ll be meeting the kids at toddler age next episode. It’s so much fun, it really is. And the next episode is so beautiful, so moving. It’s a different time period that’s really critical—like a year in to the fostering process of baby Randall, of trying to officially adopt him, and some of the road blocks we faced that are really unexpected. It’s a really beautiful episode with some great guest actors. I think people are really going to love it.