(SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Us,” the May 24 series finale of “This Is Us.”)
Understandably, saying goodbye to “This Is Us” has not been an easy task for Mandy Moore. So, she leaned into that, especially when it came to wrapping up the NBC series with the train scenes.
“I allowed myself a moment, I think probably the first take of rehearsal or something, to really feel it, really listen to Gerald McRaney (Dr. K) and let myself have that emotional response,” she recently told variety. “As time went on and we were really in the scene, it was like, ‘Oh, okay. I can be present.’”
However, once it got to the final scene of the penultimate episode, as well as the actual finale scenes with Milo Ventimiglia — the duo talking while lying in bed on the train in the afterlife — that became much more difficult. In fact, Moore couldn’t help but begin crying during this interview while discussing it.
“That’s my partner of six seasons and it’s like, ‘Wow, we really did this together. We were Mom and Dad.’ It was so easy to be present and even to just take in what [Rebecca] was saying, ‘I’m scared of the unknown, I don’t know how to do this,’” she said through tears. “It very much echoes the way you feel about the end of a very seminal part of your life. I take what William’s character said in the previous episode to heart — if something does makes you sad, it’s because you really loved it while it was unfolding, while it was happening.”
During those scenes, Ventimiglia showed his support for Moore once again.
“Sweet Milo had a tissue ball underneath the pillow for me,” she explained. “Each take, Milo would very gingerly help me flip the pillow over so you didn’t see the tear stains. We were just trying to configure the pillow every take to make sure you couldn’t see where Mandy had been crying! He’d hand me my little wad of tissues to sop up the tears. It was so indicative of our relationship and the way we always supported each other and had each other’s back. It was effortless from the beginning, and it was effortless through the end. I acknowledge that I will never, ever have an on-screen partner like Milo again. It’s so rare to connect with someone on that level. In every way, this job was once in a lifetime.”
The final episodes of “This Is Us” filming somewhat out of order was a definite advantage for Moore, who noted, “It would have been impossible to do any of the train stuff with Milo at the very end. I would have been a weeping mess.”
Luckily for Moore, all of her and Ventimiglia’s flashback scenes to the young-parents versions of Jack and Rebecca that were used in the finale — with the exception of the toy store part — were filmed three or four years ago, in order to capture the kids at that age.
“I watched it for the first time yesterday and truly had no recollection. It was one of the most bizarre experiences… I remember thinking [while filming], these are really beautiful scenes but also could be part of any episode, which is maybe why they never sort of stuck out in my mind,” she recalled. “It was a revelation with the audience watching it the other day, like, ‘Oh, that’s what we did.’ I truly didn’t remember, it was so long ago.”
Ultimately, what Moore will remember is the experience and knowing that “none of us will ever find a group like this again” — and being OK with that. So, how can she follow that up with her next job? By steering in a completely different direction.
“I feel like giving myself a little bit of time and distance to figure out what the next step is, and ultimately [try] something really different. I don’t know what that is right now, I don’t know how to define it, but obviously, I think we’ve all sort of checked off the ensemble family drama. It won’t get any better than this so why not try our hand at something entirely different,” Moore said. “I’m excited to take a moment and figure out what that is and hopefully something that is equally challenging and just in a totally different direction.”