This Is Us Takes a Final Bow

Creator and cast preview the end game of this time-jumping, tear-jerking family drama

Creator and cast preview the end game of this time-jumping, tear-jerking family drama 

Six years after we first met this family, the multigenerational saga of the Pearson siblings and their parents is about to come to an end. For some of the family members, their path beyond the finale is becoming clearer as we speak. For others, the end may not be just a metaphor, even if we wish it were.  

Rebecca Pearson’s (Mandy Moore) deteriorating health has been an ongoing storyline, but as creator Dan Fogelman teases more time spent in the future plotlines, things are starting to feel more final for the matriarch. “We’ve typically gone to [the future] as flash forwards, like: ‘Here’s an endpoint of a journey,’ but we haven’t lived there a time,” says Fogelman. “It’s fair to say that in the course of the end of the season, we’ll live there more.”  

This Is UsCTVBut before we reach that milestone, there’s one last opportunity for the cast and Fogelman to reflect on the Emmy-winning drama that Milo Ventimiglia, who portrays family patriarch Jack Pearson, says he never had any doubt would find success. “I had a lot of confidence in this group of fine and talented actors and in Dan Fogelman and the fine and talented writers that he assembled,” the actor explains. “I knew people were going to be able to connect to it.” This Is UsCTV

The viewers weren’t the only ones feeling the love. Referencing a particularly moving monologue from the final season’s seventh episode, based on what Fogelman wishes his late mother would have been able to say before her passing, Moore says it was her personal connection to her on-screen children that made the words flow. “I was super-nervous because it was four pages of a monologue. But we’re truly a family, and there’s such an ease to it, just being able to look at each of them and tell them the truth of what these words really are.” 

For Justin Hartley, who portrays Moore’s on-screen son Kevin Pearson, every episode has been an opportunity to see his castmates rise to this unique occasion. “You know the calibre of actor that you’re going to be dealing with, whether it’s Sterling [K. Brown] or Milo or Mandy or Jon [Huertas] or Chrissy [Metz]; and when you read something like that, you go, ‘I cannot wait to see what this actor does with this,’” he says. “It’s six years now of just pedal to the metal, and I don’t think there’s been one moment where anyone’s ever phoned it in.”  

This Is UsCTVAlthough it seems like following the Pearsons through their trials and tribulations could be an infinite journey, Fogelman always knew the scope of the story he was telling. “If we could all snap our fingers and just magically have more of this, we probably would, but this has very much been the plan,” the writer explains. “It’s not because we don’t have any more story to tell. It’s because we exactly planned it to go this way. So, to suddenly pivot and add more because we don’t want it to end, it wouldn’t be quite responsible to the show and it would start becoming something else.” 

Being able to stick to their six-year road map is something all the cast members have valued, even if saying goodbye to a group of people they love dearly is bittersweet. “I actually felt in such good hands with Dan, because it felt like nobody’s going to say, ‘Try to stretch it out and just get more story.’ We get to actually maintain the integrity of what we came to tell,” says Susan Kelechi Watson, who portrays Randall’s wife Beth. “It feels like we get to walk away and be really proud of something that feels like it’s still resonating with people. And it’s not the worst thing if people want more.”  This Is UsCTV

As other series, like Sex & the City, Downton Abbey and Entourage, have continued their adventures in feature films, Fogelman says anything is possible, even if he doubts that a movie sequel would come together easily. “I’m very aware that a midlife crisis is right around the corner for me and that whatever I do next I’m going to hate in comparison to this show and these actors, so I say “No” to nothing. But I suspect, when I want to do something again for This Is Us with these guys, that they’ll all be very busy and winning awards and Emmys and Oscars.” 

In terms of sticking the landing, Ventimiglia feels the same as in the beginning: there is no pressure, only anticipation for others to see what they’ve accomplished. “I know there’s expectation. But reading what I’ve already read and what we’ve already held in our hands, it’s going to deliver. It’s truly, truly going to deliver.” 

This Is Us airs Tuesday, May 24th at 9 p.m. on CTV & NBC