“Life feels like Pac-Man sometimes, I guess. It’s the same game all over again. Same board. Same ghosts. Sometimes, you get a bunch of cherries but eventually and inevitably, those ghosts catch up with you.” —Randall
This Is Us is an American TV show created by Dan Fogelman; it premiered on NBC on September 20, 2016. The ensemble show stars Mandy Moore, Milo Ventimiglia, Chrissy Metz, Sterling K. Brown, and Justin Hartley, and follows the lives and connections of three siblings. Since its premiere, the show has received strong ratings and positive reviews. Below are 34 heart-warming facts about this top television show.
34. No Pot Brownies
In one episode, Beth (Randall’s wife) and William (Randall’s birth dad) eat pot-brownies and get high. The weekend before shooting the scene, the actors got together on their day off to rehearse and to talk about the scene, but both actors maintain that they did not eat pot brownies in real life.
33. Art Imitating Life
The characters on the show have several parallels to their real-life counterparts. When the producers discovered that Chrissy Metz could sing, they immediately wrote that into the storyline. Justin Hartley, who plays Kevin, has also noticed some similarities between himself and his alter-ego, such as their mutual fear of heights.
32. A Long Process
It takes about three and a half hours in makeup to transform Mandy Moore from age 27 to 66 and everything in between. Despite the difficult process, Moore says she’s grateful to be able to play a character at such different ages.
31. A Sense of an Ending
While there is no specific end date set for the show as of yet, Fogelman has admitted that he knows how the show will end, and that ending will hopefully be after several more seasons. He says that although not every single moment is planned out, he does know what the “big moves” are, and what the next five or six seasons will look like.
30. One Request
NBC generally allows Fogelman the freedom to shape the show as he likes, but they have one simple request: They ask that he leave it on some sort of cliff-hanger leading into the Christmas Break, and as a result, certain plot points have been shaped around this idea.
29. Meaning Behind the Name
Fogelman named the character of Doctor Katowski after two important people in his life: Dwight Gooden of New York Mets fame, who was nicknamed “Dr. K.” Fogelman is a huge Mets fan, and thought it would be a funny thing to name a doctor. The second is a nod to his in-laws: His wife’s father’s family is Polish, and he always liked the name, so he decided to give that name to one of his characters.
28. Fitness Buff
Hartley is quite the fitness buff. He makes a conscious effort to eat clean, and prioritizes regular fitness and exercise. Along with weight training, he works closely with a personal trainer, and fits in regular cardio workouts through tennis, running, and basketball.
27. Made to Look Older
Ron C. Jones, who played Randall’s birth father on the show, is only 60 years-old in real life, but was made to look older with make-up and grey hairpieces. His character William was also very sick, so his character had to take on a more frail look.
26. More on the Way
The series is currently airing its second season, and will return for a third season of 18 episodes in 2018-2019.
25. A True Inspiration
Fogelman’s sister Deborah was the inspiration for Kate on the show, and she now works as a consultant for This Is Us. The character also rings close to home for her portrayer Chrissy Metz, who said that Kate’s fears about being judged for her weight are her fears too.
24. A Different Vision
This Is Us was not the original title for the show. It was originally called 36 to represent the ages of the three siblings, but Fogelman wasn’t in love with the title, and nobody else who worked on the project liked it either.
When Metz auditioned for the role of Kate, she was nearly flat broke, and had a balance of 81 cents in her bank account.
22. Why He Said Yes
Actor Milo Ventimiglia said he accepted the role of Jack on the series because he personally related to it, and knew that other people would relate to it as well. He said: “There’s so much to it that anybody can plug their own experience and references to make it feel like it was plucked from their own life.”
21. Overcome with Emotion
Metz admitted that seeing Moore in her aging makeup made her cry on the set. She said: “I saw this like love in her eyes, and it’s obviously a different person, so it was emotional for me.”
20. Rated Fresh
The popular rating site Rotten Tomatoes gives the first season of This Is Us a rating of “fresh” (at 91%) based on 44 reviews. On Metacritic, the show has a score of 76/100 based on 33 critics, with generally favorable reviews.
19. Serious Hype
The trailer for the first season amassed 17 million views just three days after it first appeared online. On Facebook, it broke a record previously set by Legends of Tomorrow, pulling in more than 50 million viewers.
18. Serious Research Required
Having no children of her own, Moore watched several childbirth videos on YouTube, and did research to make sure her labor scenes were as realistic as possible.
17. The Dad of the Set
Ventimiglia is the dad on the set as well as the screen. He organized group chats for the cast, and made hats with the “Jack’s Big Three Homes” logo for the entire crew.
16. Contributions to the Character
Sterling K. Brown has often added lines like “Just your friendly neighborhood black man” to the script, and he pitched the backstory for how Randall met his wife Beth. Brown particularly wanted to explore that facet of his character.
15. Diversity in the Writing Room
The writer’s room is deliberately diverse, and features four white women, three white men, two black women, and one black man. Everybody shares their stories, and those stories echo back into the show. According to co-showrunner Isaac Aptaker, they’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.”
14. How Do I Look?
Ventimiglia admitted that he was really nervous about his shirtless scene in the show’s first episode, but was glad it turned out alright. As that scene became one of the most talked about things on the internet for a while, it seems safe to say that it went more than just alright.
13. Yes to Losing Weight
Metz’s character Kate struggles to lose weight over the course of the show, but when Metz agreed to take on the role, her contract did not say she had to lose weight as the show goes on. Nonetheless, struggling with her weight is something that the actress has dealt with since childhood, and she is happy to have the motivation to lose some weight.
12. Fooled You!
Chris Sullivan, who plays Toby on the show, is not actually overweight in real life. Toby and Kate’s weight and body issues are at the forefront of the show, and the actor wears a fat suit for the role.
11. Making Connections
Brown has said that he immediately connected to his character Randall because neither of them grew up with their father. He says that he too has often thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if my dad was here?”
When Rebecca and Randall say “I love you, I love you most!” to each other, it’s a reference to the Disney movie Tangled, in which Moore starred. In fact, Fogelman knew Moore from working with her on the film.
9. Rocky Balboa
In the second season, Sylvester Stallone makes an appearance as himself, and Kate tells him that her father has seen every Rocky movie. The comment is actually quite ironic, because Ventimiglia played Rocky’s son in the movie Rocky Balboa.
8. Fake Boobs!
To play the part of pregnant Rebecca, Moore had to be fitted for prosthetic pregnancy breasts. There were four in total, and she said, “There was like progression of like, this size boob, this size boob and then, like, gigantic. I was like, ‘This is insanity.’”
7. Real Life Pals
In real life, Moore and Metz are good friends. Metz says she’s always been a fan of Moore’s, and described her as a “perfect human.”
6. Impressive Resume
Fogelman has numerous writing credits to his name. He wrote the 2011 film Crazy, Stupid, Love, as well as Tangled, the musical TV show Galavant, and the 2012 series The Neighbors.
5. Loved the Love Life
One of the things about playing Kate that most excited Metz was Kate’s onscreen romance. She said that plus-sized actors rarely get to have a love interest on screen, and she was excited to be able to bring her character’s relationship with Toby into people’s homes.
4. Change of Direction
Brown’s original career aspirations were not related to acting. Like his character, he had a natural passion for business, but he fell in love with the arts in college. He went on to receive a degree in acting from Stanford University, and a Master of Fine Arts from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
3. Sober Vegetarian
After his breakup with Gilmore Girls co-star Alexis Bledel, Ventimiglia adopted a rigorous workout routine, and gave up meat, cigarettes, and alcohol in an effort to be healthy. In 2017, he was featured in People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” issue, and he places his spiritual, physical, and emotional well-being at the top of his priority list.
2. Sings for Real
In addition to acting, Metz heads up her own band called Chrissy Metz & the Vapors. The band plays a variety of styles ranging from hip-hop to blues, and Metz co-writes most of their songs.
1. Don’t Spill the Beans!
2. The secret of Jack’s death is such a closely held secret that scripts are redacted, have special code names, and anyone who wants to enter the set for the show is forced to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement. The cast and crew are reportedly terrified of accidentally spoiling it!
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