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Emmy Magazine Exclusive: This Is Us Cast Talks Success and Secrets

Maarten DeBoer

Fans of This Is Us couldn’t be happier that a series exists with as much heart and spirit as the show that premiered and had us all hooked after the first episode. When Jack and Rebecca found their way into our hearts, then we learned about the ‘big three’, and we saw the love that existed between all of them – we knew there’d never been anything quite like this on television before.

When we found out that the series had already been picked up before season 2 and 3 before season 1 even wrapped, we weren’t the only ones excited. Dan Fogelman had a reason to celebrate too and it wasn’t just because the show was successful, it’s because he’d made the right idea.

The right idea meaning, turning This Is Us into a television show – because, at one point, he was going to turn it into a film instead and instead of the big 3, we would have seen the big 8.

Dan spoke with Emmy Magazine and said that the reveal, instead of happening at the end of the pilot episode, would have happened at the end of the film – had he gone that route.

There was going to be a reveal at the end of the movie that they were octuplets born in the late ’70s or early ’80s.

Aside from the wild success of the series, it was best for Dan to go the route of the television show as well because he was struggling with the film. Not because he couldn’t find the story, but because he knew the characters deserved more than a beginning, middle, and end wrapped up in a short period of time. He wanted to let the characters flourish – to let them live.

The reason I was struggling with [the film] wasn’t the plot; it was about these characters and how I didn’t want to ‘beginning-middle-and-end’ them. I wanted to do this continuous story — which felt very much like the theme of the show.’

Ken Olin, the executive producer, says that the show’s success has to do with the twists in the Pearson’s lives and not just the ones within the family. He is taking about the outside twists as well like the cultural and political twists, especially today.

I don’t know whether This Is Us would have been the same kind of success at a time when people felt safer. I think there’s a great need for a humanist sensibility and a voice for hope. And not schmaltzy hope. [This Is Us] is saying that we can see life for as difficult and sad as it can be at times and still find decency, honor, and truth.’

Sterling K Brown had this to say about playing his character, and how everyone is happy about the representation on the show. It’s non-inclusive, everyone can find themselves in a character or a storyline.

There will be black men my age who are very thankful for the representation, older people, younger people, gay, straight, transgender. I’ve had conversations across the board, talking about how this show is something special, that it’s entertainment and edification, but it’s also healing in a very beautiful way at a time in our country when things seem incredibly divisive. I feel like everybody — Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives, what have you — can enjoy the subject.

Chrissy Metz commented as well, on how the entire experience is about more than acting, more than being a job, their characters mean so much to them, to their fans, to everyone.

I can’t go anywhere without somebody saying something. A woman told me that the show has created a dialogue between her and her daughter, who never spoke about her weight, and she started crying and I started crying. Others say, ‘Can I just hug you?’ It’s about so much more than just acting.’

From the producer and director and everyone in the crew to each cast member that has made this series so memorable, already, we’re grateful for their talent but more than that, their passion to the characters that they play. For more on this interview, visit People or check out the Emmy Magazine out soon.

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