Mandy Moore has portrayed Rebecca Pearson in the award-winning and critically acclaimed drama, This Is Us for six seasons. The beloved series is currently in its final season. New episodes air Tuesdays at 9PM ET on NBC.
Everyone has a family. And every family has a story. This Is Us chronicles the Pearson family across the decades: from Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore) as young parents in the 1980s to their kids (the big three), Kevin (Justin Hartley), Kate (Chrissy Metz), and Randall (Sterling K. Brown) searching for love and fulfillment in the present day along with Toby (Chris Sullivan) and Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson). This grounded, life-affirming dramedy reveals how the tiniest events in our lives impact who we become, and how the connections we share with each other can transcend time, distance, and even death.
I had a wonderful discussion with the actress about how This Is Us brings families together, how all the different points shown in Rebecca’s life make her the character she is in the present, which Disney song best describes Jack and Rebecca’s love story, what she is most excited for fans to see from the final season, and more! Keep reading for everything she shared with me.
Huge congrats on the final season and the journey that you’ve been on with this show. For me, personally, it’s a show that my mom and my grandparents introduced me to, and I watch it weekly with them. It’s very rare for me to find a show that all of us can enjoy and really special. So I want to ask you, what does it mean that your work and the series itself can bring families together like that?
Mandy Moore: Oh my goodness, I don’t know if one could ever dream about a job like this that just sort of checks all the boxes. Being a part of something that connects families, that brings people together, that elicits really important conversations is just again, beyond my wildest imagination, and the work being something that means so much to all of us that are a part of it and clearly, it means so much to the audience from the very beginning. I think people see themselves in these stories, even though they’re so specific, it’s so specific to the Pearson family, I think we’re all able to sort of substitute different things and see ourselves in these characters and these different storylines. So it means a tremendous amount. The work that we all collectively get to do together, the people I get to work with — I mean, you were part of our conversation earlier, it’s so hard to think that this is not just going to be an inevitable part of my life moving forward, that I’m not going to see these faces and I’m not going to read these scripts. It’s hard to digest that the end is so near, but I think we all knew what a special show This Is Us was from the very beginning, and we all like really held on to it very tightly, the experience. The journey, the ride that we’ve been on, it’s something that none of us took for granted.
You play Rebecca at so many different points in her life and you’re one of the only actors to do that on the show since for other characters, there are multiple actors. Which time in her life has been your favorite to explore?
It’s every part because it all collectively adds up to who she is present day. I would say, it’s weird, it’s like I live in these two different realities. I have one show where I’m with Milo and I’m Milo’s wife, and there’s the young sort of Pearson family with the five-year-olds, then the eight-year-olds when we first started the show, and the teenagers until Jack passes away. Then there’s like the whole other separate show where I get to work with literally everybody else. So I love existing in both of those realities, and one obviously, is a huge reason for who the other is. It’s never been lost on me just this extraordinary opportunity that Dan Fogelman gifted me playing this woman from 23, 25 to like her mid-80s and everything in between, I love all of it. And I love that this season, we’re living a lot, obviously, in the present day and a bit in the future, but also to help tell those stories, we get to go back to a really happy time in Jack and Rebecca’s marriage and a very seminal point of the kids’ childhood too. I think that age of like 5, 6, 7 is seminal for all of us. It’s like, for me, at least, I think back to some of my first memories, the things that like really are ingrained from childhood with me, and the things that left the most like indelible mark are from that time period. I think it’s a really fun sort of pivot for all of us to be able to show that on the show as well, the 5, 6, 7-year-olds, what they’re sort of experiencing or who they are, like pieces of that is sort brought into adulthood with them.
Speaking of Milo, I actually got to speak with him recently and we had such a nice moment discussing the magic you both have together on screen. It’s beautiful and really amazing to see. Obviously, you both are so close off-screen as well. What has it been like to form that friendship off-screen and see what it’s resulted in on-screen?
I can’t imagine being on this journey and having anyone else in Milo’s position. Milo is Jack Pearson, I don’t think I would have been able to bring to my character what I’ve brought without him. He just makes it all work and he always has. It was so incredibly easy to find that rhythm with Milo from the beginning. I don’t know what it is, because I don’t think you can fake chemistry. I don’t think you can sort of mine for it. It has to kind of exist and it did with us from the very first time we had our chemistry read part of our auditioning process together and it’s only grown. I think we approach our jobs the same way. I think we both really trusted each other. I think we both saw a really worthy partner in one another. There was just a tremendous amount of respect, love, and excitement for what we knew we were going to get to do together and that’s never waned. I mean, the connection I have with Milo is just so intrinsic. I don’t have to say anything to him, we’ll just like be walking from our trailers, having gotten ready in the morning, and we’ll be walking to set together and he’ll just like jump into the scene or I’ll just jump into the scene. There’s no like, “Hey, do you mind if we go over lines?” We both just start and the other’s always like right there to jump in as well. That to me, really kind of distills down exactly what Milo and I have always been to one another. I’m just gonna miss him so much, as my friend, obviously, I’ll still be friends with him, but as my partner and my work companion. I know full well, I will never ever ever have another work relationship like what I have with Milo.
Well, I’m manifesting you get to work together on something else.
I’d love to!
I want to give you a fun question to mix certain parts of your career. First of all, you voice my favorite Disney princess in my favorite Disney movie. You are also very talented in the music department. So I want to mix all of those good things with This Is Us and ask you what Disney love song do you think would best describe Jack and Rebecca’s love story?
Thank you! [Laughs] I don’t know why “A Whole New World” just came into my head. It’s just a classic and really a huge part of my childhood but sure, like Jasmine and Aladdin, riding on a magic carpet, there’s something so ethereal and otherworldly about Jack and Rebecca’s love that seems to be a really fitting song to me. But “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” also feels like it could work. I mean, there’s just so many classic Disney songs I feel like you could substitute.
The show also presents really beautifully done, complex storylines for these characters that so many viewers can relate to. I see the love on social media and I’m sure you get a lot of fans coming up to you and telling you their stories. Is there a special experience that you remember looking back after playing this character for so many years?
I think it’s not necessarily one story, it’s the collection of stories. It’s what you just shared, the fact that you watch this with your grandparents and your parents, the generational sort of bond that brings people together, hearing that across the board. I don’t like, ”I don’t watch anything with my kids.” Or “my kids are so super busy, but they always make time on Tuesday night, we watch the show together. And if we’re not together, we watch it together on the phone or on FaceTime,” I never imagined I would be a part of something that has such a connective tissue. I will really miss that because that’s a really tough mandate I think when you’re looking for a job and storytelling in the way that we sort of do on our side of the business. It’s hard to mandate “Well, I want to do something that is helpful and messy, and people are able to sort of see themselves reflected in it. It’s wholesome and feel good but also tugs at your heartstrings,” like This Is Us sort of covers just a plethora of all of those things. I don’t know if I’ll ever have a job like this again. So I’m relishing these last few months of new episodes to sort of bring people into the fold.
Lastly, there are still a ton of questions fans have and they come up with theories for them. Is there a question you are most excited for them to find out the answer to?
I’m excited for people to see Rebecca and Miguel’s story. I think a lot of people, especially most recently, have been wondering about that. So I’m excited that we will answer that sooner rather than later. I’m glad people have sort of come on to Miguel’s side and on Team Miguel at this point, after six seasons. But yeah, I think I’m really excited for people to discover that and as Dan was speaking to earlier, I think Kate and Toby’s unraveling of their marriage is something gutting, but very real and true to life. I think that they’re handling it in a very poignant way. I think people are going to be excited about how so many questions are answered and things wrap up because it doesn’t necessarily need to be tied in a bow, but things will be addressed.
Mandy, thank you so much again for speaking with me. This was a real honor and pleasure.
Thank you! Thank you for your very thoughtful questions, much appreciated.