SXSW Sneaks This Is Us Season Finale

Two seasons, one family, and millions of fans

Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia (Photo by Jana Birchum)

Over the past 35 episodes of NBC’s hit family dramedy This Is Us, viewers have gone on an emotional rollercoaster with the Pearson family. Judging by Monday’s world premiere of tonight’s season 2 finale – a tear-jerking, endearing, and even at times hilarious episode – the rollercoaster isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

At the Paramount sneak preview, creator Dan Fogelman and cast members Milo Ventimiglia (Jack Pearson), Mandy Moore (Rebecca Pearson), and Justin Hartley (Kevin Pearson) laughed and cried as they experienced the finale for the first time along with viewers. (See photo gallery.) To avoid spoilers, we’ll just say even the cast expressed surprise and wonder during the Q&A, admitting they too are unaware of the Pearsons’ future. They spoke about shooting the season finale, their connection with each other on- and offscreen, and re-enacted funny moments from shooting. Fogelman also revealed that the writers have a good idea of where the show is going and have planned characters’ storylines 11 to 13 years into the future.

Justin Hartley (Photo by Jana Birchum)

The cast and crew reconvened for today’s SXSW Conference featured session. They began by revealing that the actors had all brought fellow members of the cast that were not invited to previous awards shows as their “plus-one” so that everyone could attend, and that Moore and Ventimiglia made 3-D trophy re-creations for the show’s child actors who were left out of the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series. They also told the story about how Ventimiglia almost met Moore at the premiere of her 2002 weepie A Walk to Remember, and how Hartley almost did a chemistry test with Moore for a pilot that eventually fell through.

Nobody could choose a favorite episode, but they did talk about one another’s best scenes and their own personal attachments to their characters. Moore said, “We have these histories with these characters and these stories.” Ventimiglia said he particularly liked the real way in which the series has portrayed Jack’s drinking problem. Fogelman revealed Moore cried for three weeks during the shooting of the post-Super Bowl episode, to the point they considered sending a clown to her trailer to cheer her up.

Dan Fogelman (Photo by Jana Birchum)

Regarding the fans, Moore said she has even seen people adopt three cats and name them after them, with Hartley adding that was cute, but “they didn’t think, ‘Now I have three cats.’” Ventimiglia shared a sweet interaction with a fan in Austin yesterday who he said moved them by simply thanking them and not asking for anything. Hartley then shared his most memorable fan interaction was in fact with the mother of moderator Jessica Radloff, who she once brought to set. Radloff proceeded to show the audience a sweetly hilarious video of the interaction.

The cast agreed they had grown with the show as people, with Fogelman saying it makes him want to be a better husband because “it is easier to write a great husband than to be a great husband.” Moore added, “It makes me reach out to my parents after every episode.”

The season 2 finale of This Is Us airs tonight at 8pm on NBC.

Featured Session: This Is Us Cast Panel

Tuesday, March 13, Austin Convention Center

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SXSW Film 2018, This Is Us, Dan Fogelman, Mandy Moore, Milo Ventimiglia, Justin Hartley

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