Every Tuesday night we're glued to our televisions with napkins in hand as we watch NBC's This Is Us. And while we always have so many question after each episode, there are a few facts we know about the show that will never change.
Remember how idyllic that rehab facility looked? "We shot that at Casamigos Ranch in Malibu," executive producer Issac Aptaker told EW. "Weirdly enough, that's where Justin Hartley was getting married. He had to do this brutally intense scene from the show where his character is lashing out and is torn into, and then have this really beautiful wedding in the exact same place. I think he actually spent his first night as a married man either in the room that Kevin was supposed to be staying in, or the adjacent room. It was just a weird coincidence."
Moore first got to know This Is Us showrunner Dan Fogelman while working on Disney's Tangled – Moore starred and Fogelman wrote the screenplay. There's a scene in season one which directly references the movie: Randall tells his mom "I love you." She responds "I love you more," and Randall says "I love you most." That exchange becomes even cuter when you realize it's taken from the Tangled song ""
On January 7 of this year, Brown won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Television Drama for This Is Us, becoming the first African-American man ever to win in this category's history. "Throughout the majority of my career, I've benefited from colorblind casting which means, you know what, hey, let's throw a brother in this role, right? Really cool," Brown said in his speech. "Dan Fogleman, you wrote a role for a black man. That could only be played by a black man. And so what I appreciate so much about this is that I've been seen for who I am and being appreciated for who I am. And it makes it that much more difficult to dismiss me, or dismiss anybody who looks like me."
Which means, yes, she is younger than all three of the actors who play her adult children. Moore is 33, while Chrissy Metz is 37, and Justin Hartley and Sterling K Brown are both 41. Despite the heavy aging makeup that's used to transform Rebecca into her sixty-something self, this fact is distracting once you know it.
This is a reference to the Big Three and Jack's 36th birthdays in the pilot, but Fogelman was never a fan of this title. "I didn't like it. I had done a series of movies where I had never titled them and no one can agree on the title," he told . "I threw 36 on it, and then I never liked it. Nobody ever liked it. I came up with This Is Us, I think, when I was in editorial … But there was a lot of debate over what the title of the show was gonna be."
Beginning with the season two premiere, which revealed the fateful Pearson house fire in its final moments, working on This Is Us became "Fort Knox secrecy," according to Milo Ventimiglia in an interview. "Photocopy-proof scripts, code words, secret locations, and we really couldn't talk about it outside the company." The way Moore put it to , "It's like suddenly we're on Lost."
Every time Kate is seen singing at a gig – like in that unforgettable season two rendition of "Landslide" – that's Metz singing for real. She, like Kate, has had an interest in singing since high school. "We are all works in progress. We are all trying to figure it out," she said in an interview with her vocal coach, per . "I was afraid of my own voice and afraid of showing it and being vulnerable. This whole process has taught me that our perception is our reality, and I can't hold onto what people think because it's their perception. And if they love me, great, and if they don't, that's okay too."
That shot of Jack's butt in the pilot was originally written to be funny, "in the way a shot of my butt would be funny," Fogelman told THR. "I didn't imagine that that was going to be a thing that would blow up the internet. I joke about it a lot, but really, my initial conception of that character was that different." When first casting Jack, Fogelman had a more doughy regular guy in mind – but then Ventimiglia came along and changed everything.
In season one's "The Pool," Randall wanders away to sit with another family, inadvertently letting on that he often feels out of place with the Pearsons. Rebecca gets into an argument with the mother of that family, Yvette – who is played by Brown's wife, actress Ryan Michelle Bathe. She appeared in two subsequent episodes of season one, so don't rule out a return.
And while this should be a foregone conclusion, it unfortunately is often not the case in television. According to , the writing staff features four white women, three white men, two black women and one black man — and everyone shares their stories. "We've really, really tried to make the writers room a place where we can have those kinds of conversations — the kinds you don't have permission to have in your daily life," says co-showrunner Isaac Aptaker.
This was a pretty incredible feat of editing, considering the 2018 Super Bowl aired live on NBC right before the episode on February 4, 2018, with only a half hour buffer in between. But when Kate and Toby are shown watching the game – as is Pearson family tradition – that is genuine Super Bowl 52 footage.
In the original cut of "The 20s," which shows us the Big Three as young adults for the first time, Kevin's actor roommate Zeke excitedly tells him that he booked "the Kevin Spacey movie." Two days before the episode aired, the first sexual assault allegation against Spacey broke, leading NBC to hastily re-dub the scene to reference Christian Bale instead.
Prepare to weep. Ventimiglia has already shared scenes with Brown and Hartley thanks to hallucinations, and Fogelman did not rule out the possibility of a dream sequence appearance in the run-up to Kate's wedding. "We play with a lot of things around time and memory and what could have been, so I think that's definitely a possibility," he told . "There's a lot of emotions [about that idea] because if you've lost someone tragically, you dream about them a lot. There's a lot of different ways that can happen."
The season one and two premieres saw Kevin, Kate, and Randall turn 36 and 37 respectively – so if season three begins with their 38th birthdays, we can officially call this a tradition. The fact that the same date (August 31) is also Jack's birthday gives the whole thing a bittersweet edge, much like the Super Bowl.
After many, many, many years on the air, obviously. "I do know [the ending]," Fogelman told , "but it won't be 10 [years from now]. I'll be dead if I do this show 10 years from now 'cause it's really hard! But I think I kind of know what the next four or five or six seasons look like of this show."
Which, again, is no surprise given she's the youngest member of the main cast, and plays Rebecca across four decades. "At first I was really excited and selfie-ing it up," she told of playing Rebecca's older self. "Now, it's like, 'Here we go again!' It takes about three and a half hours. It's not an easy process. But I'm so grateful. Who gets to play a character from 27 to 66? I feel really lucky."
The return of Gerald McRaney's Dr. Katowski was one of the most emotional moments in Jack's funeral episode. The character has sentimental ties for Fogelman too; the name "Dr. K" was inspired by Dwight Gooden of the New York Mets' nickname, while "Katowski" is a Polish name from Fogelman's wife's family.
Actress Caitlin Thompson has played Madison, Kate's weight loss support group frenemy, since the early days of the show – and she's also married to Fogelman in real life. Fogelman and Thompson wed in 2015, and if you want to overdose on sheer cuteness, take a look at Thompson's of their dogs. Thompson also used social media to on their two-year wedding anniversary last summer.
When Kevin stars in a Ron Howard movie with Sylvester Stallone in season two, Kate pays a visit to the set to meet the icon. During their emotional conversation, Kate reveals that Sly was Jack's favorite actor. But there's a fun second layer to this scene: Ventimiglia actually played Sly's son in 2006's Rocky Balboa, and it was Ventimiglia who made that guest appearance happen.
In season two's "Brothers," Randall and Beth's new foster daughter Deja reveals both a low-key crush on Kevin, and a love of his terrible sitcom The Manny. As a result, we get to hear a selection of genuinely glorious episode titles from the show, among them "Manny Pedi," "Hollow Manny," "Of Mice and Mannies," and "Manny Get Your Gun." Why would ever Kevin quit this show?
This one is wild. "I actually used to represent [Hannah] when I was an agent," Metz told . "It's full circle. Life is so crazy. I've been a huge fan of hers for as long as I've known her … It was just so perfect. She plays that angsty, sarcastic, funny teenager so well." Metz and Zeil are good friends IRL, which might partially account for how extraordinarily convincing Zeile is as a younger Kate.
Randall and Beth have incredible on-screen chemistry, and the actors revealed to that they go back a long way in real life too. Though they didn't know each other well, they overlapped at NYU's MFA program. "I just remember watching her in [her] process do incredibly beautiful and nuanced work, and just being a fan of [her] talent," Brown said.
Fogelman's original script was for a feature film, which would have focused on Jack and Rebecca having octuplets. "There was going to be a reveal at the end [of the movie] that they were octuplets born in the late '70s or early '80s," Fogelman told Emmy magazine. But he found himself struggling with the script because he didn't want to write a beginning, middle, and end for these characters. "I wanted to do this continuous story — which felt very much like the theme of the show."
Yup. That Chevelle is Ventimiglia's – and he donated it to the production on one condition. "They were looking for a Camaro and I was like 'you can't put Jack Pearson in a Camaro!'" Ventimiglia told . When the transportation crew realized that his actual car was period-appropriate, he agreed to let them use it, "but whatever you're gonna pay me for it, that goes back towards coffee trucks and burger trucks for the crew." Because he is a gem, both on-screen and off.
"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," Metz told . But Metz also the character deeply relatable. "I remember reading those lines like, 'I'm always going to be afraid of a chair breaking underneath me' or 'whether people will be able to recognize if I'm actually pregnant,' and going to Dan, in tears, like, 'These are my fears.'"
Especially in season one. The late Alan Thicke played himself in the pilot, co-starring in Kevin's last episode of The Manny – and Mario Lopez also appeared in that episode. Seth Meyers appeared in Times Square to witness Kevin and Randall's brawl. And Katie Couric showed up to lay into Kevin in his nightmare before the opening night of his play.
"I kept auditioning, with no savings and no money, credit card debt gaining interest," Metz told Glamour. "I went on unemployment. I bought ramen noodles at dollar stores. I never had to — God forbid — live on the streets; I moved in with a roommate who told me, 'Stay with me until you can afford rent. Don't give up.'"
Those of us who weren't crying too hard to hear may have noticed what sounded like Jack's voice saying "Bec?" while Rebecca is standing at the vending machine in the hospital, unaware that her husband has suddenly gone into cardiac arrest. "I had recorded a lot of different versions of that, some that were a little more ethereal like I was whispering," Ventimiglia told Esquire. "You'll have to ask Dan, but my belief is that it's a presence. That was Jack saying "Bec?" She turns her head and everything."
Remember when Kate finally broke down over Jack's death during that intense, immersive workout class/drum circle? Great news if you're in need of some emotional catharsis yourself – that class is real, it's called Pound-Rockout, and it's billed as "the world's first cardio jam session inspired by the infectious, energizing and sweat-dripping fun of playing the drums."
Per , Ventimiglia makes a point of studying the call sheets so that he knows everyone's name on set, and often shows up on days he isn't shooting. He also manages several group texts: one for "just the Pearsons," another for Fogelman and the cast, which are a mix of business conversation with pictures and memes. Because Jack Pearson's goodness is infectious, especially for the actor who plays him.