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6 Things We Learned From the ‘This Is Us’ Cast and Creator at TCA

Variety logo Variety 1/18/2017 Oriana Schwindt
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This Is Us” creator Dan Fogelman and the cast got the news of their two-season renewal a mere five minutes before hopping onstage at NBC’s Television Critics Association winter press tour presentation. As such, they were an excited bunch, though not so overeager as to spoil much about the rest of the first season.

Here’s what we learned from the session:

– Katie Couric will be appearing in an episode as herself, and “Atlanta” star Brian Tyree Henry will play someone from William’s (Ron Cephas Jones) past — sadly, not as his “Atlanta” character Paper Boi — who we’ll see in both the present and past timelines.

– In light of the double renewal, how many seasons does Fogelman think “This Is Us” can go? “We have a while to go,” Fogelman said. “There’s a before and after to this family. Slowly but surely you learn.” That means that Fogelman has several more seasons in mind, though he wouldn’t commit to a specific number. “In success people are always going to want more, in failure they want less,” he said. “The nature of the timeline, we’ll never run out of stories.” (Despite strong positive reaction to Tuesday’s standalone, all-in-the-past episode, Fogelman isn’t planning on a spinoff just yet.)

– Next Tuesday’s episode will provide more information on patriarch Jack’s (Milo Ventimiglia) death. “Next week is a big one,” Fogelman said.

Mandy Moore’s “Old Rebecca” makeup takes about three and a half hours to put on, which she said was an improvement on the five hours it took the first time around. “You get real zen about it,” Moore said. “You try to help out with the process.”

– While Moore was Fogelman’s first choice for mom Rebecca, he was envisioning someone else entirely for Jack: “Sort of a more nebbishy type almost.” Then Milo Ventimiglia walked in, all long hair and beard and carrying a motorcycle helmet. “He was so alpha, it was not what I had in mind,” Fogelman said. Yet “right away I knew, that’s the dad whose family hinges on him.”

– An upcoming episode will feature an entire act that is all one take, a “marital moment,” as Fogelman described it, that will highlight what the show does best: “We can put a camera on an actor for four minutes and you’ll enjoy it,” he said. “It removes all the bells and whistles.”

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