This Is Us is a juggernaut hit on NBC. And while millions literally tuned in to find out the ins and outs of the hit series in its successful debut season, there is still a lot that many viewers do not know about the show. And I’m not just talking about the secrets of Randall, Kate, and Kevin’s childhood or what was the last straw for Jack and Rebecca to finally call it quits (even though I’m still waiting for that major revelation). I mean the secrets behind the show about the actors, writers, show runners, and producers that are actually pretty cool. The show had such a dramatic impact and effect that has literally left grown men crying. I don’t think any guy was ashamed to admit the episode when (spoiler!) the beloved William died was a tear jerker.
From the beginning, the cast and crew made their way into our hearts. But just like any great show, there are effects and methods to make this happen. While some fans might not want to know the magic behind This Is Us, some of it is worth being aware of and could make the experience of watching the show that much better. And no worries – it won’t spoil the show. Actually… it might spoil the show. I think it’s safe to say that many viewers would be pretty intrigued by these secrets. So take a look at 15 things you probably still don’t know about This Is Us, even if you are one of its millions of loyal viewers.
15. The Show’s Original Name
The series that we have come to know and love as This Is Us was not always given that title. It was actually going to be called 36. I definitely get why this would be the case. It was the series premiere in which we found out Kevin, Randall, and Kate’s history as well as their age. The now iconic episode also marked the “Big 3’s” 36th birthday. So I totally get why this was an option for the name. But I have to say I’m relieved it didn’t stick. I mean, what happens when they turn 37, or 38? The show has already been renewed for seasons two and three so they won’t even be 36 in season two. If the title was going to be about the siblings, I think “The Big 3” would have made a little more sense. But at the same time, it really does envelop the entire fascination of the family. So This Is Us is a perfect fit.
14. Toby Isn’t Really A Big Guy
So one of the reasons why Toby is so lovable is because he’s like a teddy bear. But the actor who plays him, Chris Sullivan, is not heavyset at all! He’s actually pretty slim. So why does he look like he’s not a skinny mini? Well, he wears a fat suit! Go figure. By the way he also wears a prosthetic on his face to make his face look bigger too. So when Kate said she didn’t want to date a fat person, after they met at a weight loss class, it’s safe to say she wasn’t. No wonder Toby can binge and not gain any weight, or exercise for a day and lose more weight than he hoped to. Sullivan’s real size was revealed during an episode of The Real when he pointed out the “magic of television” helped him look much bigger than he actually is to facilitate a weight loss storyline.
13. The Series Already Has An Ending
While we’re stuck trying to avoid a panic attack while we wait for the episode that reveals how Jack died and how Rebecca and his best friend became a couple, the entire series already has an ending apparently. The show’s creator, who also serves as the writer and director, revealed this news to Glamour magazine. But don’t panic, he said the show could go on for about six seasons. “I don’t have every single moment planned out, but I know where the big moves are for the show in every season. Because this show plays [with] time so much, you need to have a plan.” I just have to say that six seasons is not enough! I can only imagine what will happen between now and season six. We’ll learn more about the entire Pearson family – like will Kate and Toby get married? And will Jack and his ex-wife become spouses again? So many questions!
12. Is Kate’s Weight Loss A Key Storyline?
As for Kate, portrayed by the hilarious actress Chrissy Metz, she pretty much has to lose weight under her contract. But don’t think she’s forced to.She said on an episode of Ellen, “I was kind of like, ‘I hope I get to lose weight.’ That’s a win-win for me – motivated in a different way this time. It wasn’t mandated. It wasn’t like, ‘You have to do this.’ But if this is the storyline, naturally you would lose weight. So I’m excited if that should happen.” Another fun fact about Kate is that she actually got the role after working for an agent. She said she was over looking at other people ink major acting deals and went after one for herself. It’s definitely good she did because This Is Us would not be the same without Metz, who also starred in American Horror Story. She has described her potential weight loss on the show as a “win-win” and we think it could be really great for her!
11. Dr. Katowski’s Name Means More Than You Know
Dr. Katowski, played by actor Gerald McRaney, is an ob-gyn who has made the audience cry in any given scene; from the one in which he told Jack that they lost the third baby in the series premiere to finding out about the loss of his wife, Dr. Katowski is probably one of the best supporting roles on the show. But his name has a nostalgic meaning as well. Dan Fogelman brought his love of baseball into the show and knew he wanted the doctor’s name to first be Dr. K after Dwight Gooden of the New York Mets’ nickname. As for Katowski, Fogelman showed a little extra love to his in-laws with that one. “My wife’s father’s side of the family are Katowskis – Polish – and I always liked the name. So, I put that name in there for [her] side of the family.” That is actually pretty cool.
10. The Truth Behind Mandy Moore’s Transformation
When it was revealed that This Is Us would take place decades prior to now as well as have unforgettable scenes in the current day, it was kind of hard to picture how Mandy Moore would be the matriarch of the Pearson family when her television children are probably as old as she is in reality. Well, the show runners definitely took care of that with an amazing makeup job to make Moore look twice her age. The makeup artist for Moore on the show, Zoe Hays, spoke about Moore’s transformation. “Our concern was always that we know instantly who she is…” Hays said. To solve that, the makeup team decided to portray Moore’s older character as what Moore would look like 30 years from now. “I think it’s very easy to go, ‘Oh, we’re going to stick a gray wig on and grey eyebrow, and make her look old; but that really is not who she would be as she aged.”
9. Jack Was Always Going To Die
In case you’re wondering if the show runners and writers had any thought of whether Jack Pearson was going to be alive and well in the present day, it doesn’t look like they did. But ugh! If only he could be alive to see where his kids are today (and that Rebecca moved on with his best friend). On a side note, Randall could have used him now more than ever after his birth father passed away. Anyway, actor Milo Ventimiglia, who plays Jack, confirmed, “Jack was dead from the beginning. But life happens, death happens. Having Jack be gone in the present day gives so much to the [adult] kids [to play.]” Unfortunately, he didn’t give any spoilers as to how Jack’s life ends. Still, the fact that he does shows just how high the genius level is for the masterminds behind this epic television series. We want Jack to live, but the show is clearly that much better considering the depths that his death provides.
8. A Familiar Face Made A Cameo
You might not have realized who it was, but one gorgeous lady in the series has a pretty special connection to actor Sterling K. Brown, who plays Randall Pearson. And no, it wasn’t one of his former Army Wives co-stars even though we think that would be pretty cool. It was actually his wife, Ryan Michell Bathe. Fans might remember the episode when the Pearson family went to the pool. The kids were teasing Kate because of her weight and Jack was upset that Randall was getting all of the attention. Clearly this was a flashback scene. As for Randall? He cozied up to the one of the African American families he felt he could identify with. Rebecca isn’t too fond of this and goes back-and-forth with a woman who has the last word after she recommends finding someone better to cut Randall’s hair. That woman? None other than Bathe.
7. Dan Fogelman’s Personal Ties to Kate
It looks like Dr. K isn’t the only one who was inspired by Dan Fogelman’s real life experiences. Apparently Kate Pearson was as well. Actress Chrissy Metz confirmed, “Kate is loosely based off of Dan’s sister and their relationship, where he was very successful as a writer and she was struggling with some issues.” Here’s a fun fact – Metz and Fogelman’s sister haven’t met in person yet. But they are Facebook friends so that pretty much counts. But the question is, does that mean Dan is Kevin? Well, if he’s not, actor Justin Hartley has no problem ironing out the comparisons between him and his small screen character. “I was like, ‘Is Dan following me around? I think Kevin is afraid of heights, and I’m afraid of heights. He gets seasick; I get seasick. He’s annoying to be around; I’m annoying to be around,” he said in an interview. How exciting!
6. How Did Milo Ventimiglia And Mandy Moore Feel About This Scene?
Well the emotional rollercoaster that played out during Jack and Rebecca’s infamous argument that ended with Jack kissing Rebecca on the forehead only showed how great the actors, Milo Ventimiglia and Mandy Moore, are in their respective characters. But it turns out they got really into it. “To leave on such a note of such [tension], the air in the house is just so heavy. There’s so much that’s not being said between these two people and to be so completely disconnected — and I feel like it was maybe talked around a little bit the next day, a couple days later — and just to be leaving not his note, is the worst possible scenario.” Ventimiglia also had similar comments in an interview with AOL. They both agreed that they’re not fans of their characters’ intense moments in front of cameras. Moore’s TV husband said the idea that they are very close on set which makes the negative scenes a bit difficult.
5. How Much Into Character Did Beth and William Get For THAT Scene?
One of the best scenes of This Is Us is when Beth and William take part in a little medical marijuana after William reveals he is dying of stage four cancer. But how far did the two go in order to convince the audience they were high? Well, not too far. Actress Susan Kelechi Watson said she and actor Ron Cephas Jones simply got to know one another before their hilarious scene. “Ron and I were nerds and got together that weekend [prior] and just talked about the scene.” While Beth and William indulged in some special brownies, Watson confirmed that was not with the case with her and Jones. “We did not eat pot brownies together! There was no pot in the brownies – on set, either!” Well, just like other countless moments in the show, they were certainly convincing. It turned out to be one of the most talked about scenes that showed the transition from foes to friends for Beth and William.
4. Sterling K. Brown v. Randall
Hartley isn’t the only one who knows he has more in common with his This Is Us character than he would like to admit. Sterling K. Brown has also revealed a few similarities between him and Randall Pearson. “Randall has a beautiful family, a beautiful wife, and two beautiful girls. I have a beautiful wife and two beautiful boys. He has been with his wife for a long time and my wife and I just celebrated our ten year anniversary,” he said in an interview with Metro. He also said that his father died when he was just ten, so he can relate to Randall not growing up with his biological father. “His choice to connect with [William] is a choice that makes sense – to have someone to ask for advice and know where you come from. I totally understand what that is.” Brown has also said in a different interview that playing Randall has taught him a few things and he’s changed how speaks to his children.
3. The Story Behind Jack’s Mustache
So Jack’s mustache almost needs a nickname of its own (the Jack Stache?) as it makes a special appearance every time he does and nearly takes on a life of its own. But the same pretty much also holds true for the actor who plays him, because he’s not allowed to shave it. Ventimiglia said, “I would never do that to the hair and makeup department,” he said. That’s fair considering they probably have more than enough to deal with from Toby’s fat suit to Rebecca’s aging makeup. But Ventimiglia doesn’t always have to keep it that way, thanks to Jack’s many changing appearances. “We will see a different version of Jack. We will see clean-shaven Jack at some point. He’ll never be soul-patch Jack.” I have to say the mustache doesn’t really look too bad when you consider the day and time Jack lives in with his family.
2. The Mother/Daughter Friendship Is Closer Than We Thought
Mandy Moore might play Chrissy Metz’s mother on the show, but in real life the two ladies are actually pretty close. She said she even got emotional when she saw Moore on set with her new makeup for the first time. “I cried,” she said. “I thought it was somebody else. I thought it was an executive, right? I saw this like love in her eyes, and it’s obviously a different person, so it was emotional for me.” At least we know they get just as emotional as we do. She said it’s not only a privilege but an honor to get to star opposite someone she’s extremely close with and respects when it comes to her career. “I have revered Mandy Moore for so long,” Metz said to People magazine. “I just love her. She’s just like a perfect human.” I just can’t imagine this bond getting any closer but it definitely plays out in front of the cameras.
1. Jack’s Death Revealed?
Okay, so what we know so far about Jack’s death is that it definitely happens (unfortunately) and that Kate blames herself for it. And while we all tuned in with anticipation that the season finale would reveal Jack’s death (raise your hand if you thought it would happen after Jack left Rebecca’s performance drunk), we still have yet to see what happened. I don’t even know if I’m emotionally ready to know the who, what, when, where, and why of Jack’s death. And of course show runners and actors aren’t being nice enough to tell us before the show returns this fall. But what we do know is that it’s worth the wait, according to Hartley. There was some speculation that Jack’s death would be related to the 9/11 tragedy. But Brown set the record straight on that and said Jack actually dies in Pittsburgh. Sullivan also said, “It happens exactly when you think it’s going to.” But then again Sullivan said he thinks Jack is still alive.