Missed the This Is Us 2017 PaleyFest LA panel the first time around? Here are five takeaways from the hour-long discussion.
In 2017, This Is Us Executive Producers (EPs) John Requa and Glenn Ficarra along with the Pearson gang, Ron Cephas Jones (William), John Huertas (Miguel), Chris Sullivan (Toby), and Gerald McRaney (Dr. Kowalski) sat down with The Paley Center for Media to discuss the show’s growing success following the series’ first season.
Here are the panel’s biggest takeaways.
In defense of Miguel
Although Jon Huertas’ Miguel caught a lot of flack from fans once it was revealed in Season 1, Episode 2 that he married his best friend’s widowed wife, Huertas’ costars had nothing but nice things to say about the character.
His on-screen best friend, Milo Ventimiglia, started by telling fans that if they love Jack, they should love his best friend. When the panelist urged others on the cast to share their favorite things about Miguel, Sterling K. Brown reminded the audience that Miguel had been a wonderful grandfather to Randall’s kids long before William came into the picture.
Meanwhile, Huertas’ on-screen wife, Mandy Moore, said that, “He’s clearly compassionate and was there for Kevin in his time of need.” Of course, you’ll remember that Miguel calmed Kevin’s nerves as Kevin anticipated the opening night of his Off-Broadway play in Season 1, Episode 15. When Ventimiglia responded that Miguel is always there for others, Justin Hartley echoed that sentiment, saying that Miguel often shows up for The Big Three although they probably wouldn’t do the same for him.
Three generations of The Big Three
Speaking of The Big Three, Brown, Hartley, and Chrissy Metz sang the praises of their younger characters’ counterparts. Brown said of Lonnie Chavis and Niles Fitch, who play the child and young adult versions of Randall, respectively:
“I have such tremendous respect for both Lonnie and Niles like when I look back over and see the trajectory of Randall and knowing that it’s in such good hands, like, these guys kill it.”
When Ventimiglia and Moore explained the extent to which the young actors soak in the performances of Brown, Hartley, and Metz to inform theirs, Hartley recounted the time Logan Shroyer, who plays the young adult version of Kevin, asked him for advice on what to do in a scene:
“I just said to him, I said, ‘Look, man, I’ve seen what you’ve done on the show, you don’t need me interfering in any of that, you’ve got this like literally do your thing. You’re fantastic.'”
Metz then spoke of her relationships with her character’s child and young adult counterparts, played by Mackenzie Hancsicsak and Hannah Zeile, respectively, and revealed she represented Zeile as a talent agent years before This Is Us. Metz said of the first time that she met Hancsicsak:
“I remember meeting her, and I was like, ‘Oh my God, that was me’ like I was a bit of a chatterbox and then just, like, excited at the world.'”
Just a year into the show’s run, you can tell how well each generation of The Big Three worked together to bring us well-rounded characters.
Who knows who best?
During a game of “Who Knows Who Best?” the This Is Us cast was put in the hot seat as they tried to guess which fun fact applied to which This Is Us cast-member. Along the way, some interesting tidbits were shared:
- Chris Sullivan provided the voice-over for the Geico Camel.
- Mandy Moore was discovered by a FedEx driver who’d dropped off some boxes at a recording studio where she was recording a demo tape. After the man sent her demo to his friend at Epic Records, Moore ended up signing with the label.
- Susan Kelechi Watson’s on-screen mother, Phylicia Rashad, along with Denzel Washington, paid for Watson and 10 other students to study Shakespeare at Oxford University. When Rashad learned the students couldn’t pay their own way, she called up Washington, and the pair split the bill.
As the panel wound down, the audience was invited to ask questions of the cast and crew. The Q&A inspired interesting discussions, especially when one fan pointed out that the song that Moore covered the song, Cat Stevens’ “Moonshadow”, that Rebecca performs the night she meets Jack in Season 1, Episode 18 on her 2003 album, “Coverage.”
Moore revealed that although she had not personally picked the song for Rebecca to sing, it fit perfectly as in Season 1, Episode 2, Jack gives Rebecca a moon-shaped necklace, and Rebecca notes the necklace’s reference to “their song.” Moore said that when the producers Googled “Moonshadow” and found her cover, they knew it was meant to be.
Milo’s audition and Jack’s Season 1 story-arc
Later on in the Q&A, when John Requa and Glenn Ficarra were asked what went into finding the right actors for each role, Requa said that the show took life in the audition room:
I remember when Milo came in, it wasn’t imagined for that character. You [Milo] came in, and we met with you [Milo], and we were playing around with the scenes, and he walked away and we’re like, ‘This is such a more interesting way to go than the written character.”
Requa said that following Milo’s audition, series creator Dan Fogelman went home and wrote the scene where Rebecca confronts Jack about his drinking problem in Season 1, Episode 2. Requa said that the actors informed the entire casting process, and the writers simply wrote material that played to their strengths.
What were your favorite moments from the panel? Are you Team Miguel or Team Jack? Let us know!
If you missed the This Is Us Season 4 finale, be sure to get caught up on Hulu or the NBC app.