This Is Us initially presented itself as a story of four people who shared the same birthday... before revealing they were all members of one family big, complicated, loving family. Since then, the series became one of the most surprising broadcast shows of the late 2010s and early 2020s. It held the respect of the TV Academy alongside much larger-budget shows, and it held viewers’ attention with weekly cryfests that end in gasps. By this point, now that the show has come to an end, fans know how great their favorite NBC family drama is, was, and will always be. But there are still things you never knew about This Is Us.
The surprising parts of
This Is Us aren’t limited to the Pearson family dramas that occur every week. (Though, as Beth perfectly summed up, it’s what the show will be remembered for: “Good people, cry a lot, dramatic as hell Thanksgivings.”) There are a lot of surprises about the things that go on behind the scenes. From the relationships offscreen between the actors to writing and directing the series along with starring in it, there are tons of fun fact nuggets for fans to chew on. And many of them will bring the same sort of sappy smile to viewers’ faces as the Pearsons do. 01 This Is Us Was Originally Conceived As A Movie
Before he created
This Is Us, showrunner Dan Fogelman (already known for penning big screen scripts like Crazy, Stupid, Love) pictured the Pearson clan’s story as a movie. It was a supersized version of the series premiere, in which eight seemingly unrelated people go about their day, all sharing a birthday… until, in the end, the film reveals they are octuplets. Thankfully, when Fogelman reconceived the show for the small screen, he reduced the Pearson family size, so poor Mandy Moore didn’t have to go full Octomom. 02 One Of The Stars Is Married To The Showrunner
Caitlin Thompson, the actor who plays Madison, was initially cast as Kate’s BFF to show another side of disordered eating. But as the series went on, fans suspected she might also be Kevin’s eventual wife. Her husband and showrunner Dan Fogelman initially
swore this wouldn’t happen, but eventually, the inevitable occurred, and she wound up the mother of Kevin’s twin children, although married IRL to someone else on the show. 03 Sterling K. Brown & Susan Kelechi Watson Went To NYU Together
In an interview with
Entertainment Weekly, the onscreen spouses revealed that, while they weren’t close friends with each other, their time in NYU’s MFA program overlapped. Brown’s on-and-off-again relationship with his wife, Ryan Michelle Bathé, was so notorious that Watson said she only remembers Brown collectively with his now-wife. As a student, Watson admired Brown for still delivering excellent theater work after appearing on TV, while Brown knew of her through a classmate she was dating at the time. 04 Mandy Moore’s Husband Wrote Jack Damon’s Hit Single
Season 4 kicked off with a new twist most people didn’t see coming: the introduction of a new generation of the Pearson clan, with Kate and Toby’s son, Jack Damon, now a grown man and a pop star. His hit single, “Memorized,” was the premiere’s theme song, and it stayed in the family — the real-life family, that is.
The song was co-written by This Is Us’ composer, Siddhartha Khosla, with Taylor Goldsmith, the lead singer of the rock band Dawes. Goldsmith also happens to be married to none other than Mandy Moore. 05 Chrissy Metz Was Hannah Zeile’s Commercial Agent
Before she scored the role of a lifetime, Metz worked as an agent, and Hannah Zeile (the actor who plays Teen Kate) was once one of her clients. Speaking to
The Hollywood Reporter about the interesting coincidence, Metz said: “I used to represent her when I was an agent. It’s full circle. Life is so crazy.” Zeile also spoke about their connection: “I saw [Metz] in the makeup trailer here, she was like, “This is so weird, I totally remember looking through your headshots,’ and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m playing you, this is so crazy.” 06 Milo Ventimiglia Helped Bring Sylvester Stallone On Board
Ventimiglia appeared as the
Rocky star’s son in the 2006 film Rocky Balboa. Although the two didn’t see each other often afterward, Stallone always insisted that Ventimiglia could call him anytime with any request. When the production staff began hinting that they had Stallone’s essence in mind for Kevin’s movie co-star in Season 2, Ventimiglia discovered his connections for getting Stallone on board were going to come in handy. He told Stallone, “Here’s something that might be fun, and I’m sorry you and I aren’t going to get a lot of screen time together, but I want you to know how much this impacts my character.” 07 Sterling K. Brown’s Wife Plays Randall’s Friend’s Mom
Appearing as Yvette in Season 1’s “The Pool” and other episodes, Ryan Michelle Bathé has been married to Brown since 2007 and has two sons with him. Proving that Brown is seriously just a real-life extension of Randall, the two were initially
college sweethearts while studying together at Stanford University. Both of them also received their MFAs from NYU. Clearly, the couple that gets degrees together stays together. 08 This Is Us Made Awards History This Is Us was the first broadcast TV series since Grey’s Anatomy in 2007 to take home the Best Ensemble Award at the SAG Awards in 2018, ending a decade-long shutout. It then proceeded to win back-to-back awards in that category the following year.
But it’s not just the SAG Awards where
This Is Us has made history. Sterling K. Brown became the first Black actor to take home the Best Actor in a TV Series, Drama at the Golden Globes, and the Emmys for his portrayal of Randall. (He also made history when he was nominated twice in the same year — once for This Is Us and once for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.) And Ron Cephas Jones, who plays Randall’s biological father, William Hill, picked up Best Actor in a Guest Role in 2018 and 2020. The latter coincided with his daughter, Jasmine Cephas Jones, picking up her first Emmy for Outstanding Actress in a Short-Form Series, making them the first father-daughter winners to take home statues in the same year. 09 The Cast Works Behind The Scenes, Too
Over the show’s six seasons, many people have helmed an hour of
This Is Us, from Watchmen’s Regina King to Twilight’s Catherine Hardwicke. But the biggest directors have been the cast members themselves. Justin Hartley (Kevin), Jon Huertas (Miguel), Milo Ventimiglia (Jack), Chris Sullivan (Toby), and Mandy Moore (Rebecca) have all had their turns behind the camera.
But directing isn’t the only BTS job. Both Susan Kelechi Watson (Beth) and Chrissy Metz (Kate) have also cont
10 Mandy Moore Has Sung “Moonshadow” Before
The Season 1 finale detailed how Jack and Rebecca first laid eyes on each other when Rebecca performed the Cat Stevens song “Moonshadow” at a bar. It was an amazingly poignant moment that was the polar opposite of the episode’s paralleling storyline of the couple’s massive fight in the 1990s. But perhaps only hardcore Mandy Moore fans know that the actor
originally covered the song on her 2003 album, Coverage , which consisted of several cover versions of songs from the 1970s and ’80s . So, yes, I’m going to say Mandy Moore is a psychic who could foresee Rebecca Pearson’s future artistic vibes.
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