Emmys: ‘This Is Us’ Star Mandy Moore on Prosthetics and Those Infamous Texts From Her Parents

Mandi Bierly
Deputy Editor, Yahoo Entertainment

As we enter Emmy season — nomination voting runs June 12 to June 26 — Yahoo TV will be spotlighting performances and other contributions that we feel deserve recognition.

“Playing Rebecca Pearson is the best job I’ve ever had,” Mandy Moore says. Not only is her character on NBC’s This Is Us the first time she’s ever played a mother, it’s an opportunity to portray a woman at ages 23 and 66.

Of course, it’s funny that the actors cast as her adult children on the drama — Sterling K. Brown (Randall), Chrissy Metz (Kate), and Justin Hartley (Kevin) — are actually older than Moore in real life, but that’s not a problem when she’s wearing the prosthetics that take four hours to apply. The only real issue when they’re all together? “Most of [those family scenes] are somewhat depressing and sad, but they find a way to make it jovial and fun on set, and I have to keep my distance because the prosthetics are so sensitive that I really can’t open my mouth wide,” Moore says. “I’m not supposed to laugh. I’m not supposed to have a lot of expression. I need to save it for it all to look OK on camera. So I miss out on all the fun with those guys. It’s a bummer.”

Before shooting the present-day group scenes, Moore can be found by herself, listening to music and thinking about how she carries herself differently when she’s playing older Rebecca. “As odd as it sounds, I thought about where my energy would emanate from as a mother in her 30s, and a lot of that felt like it came from my hands and it came from my heart,” she says. “But as Rebecca transitions into later in life, I really imagined the energy emanating from the top of my head, and when I walk, I just imagine planting my feet on the ground, because there’s sort of a wisdom and clarity that comes with age and time and knowing who she is at that phase of her life.”

This Is Us is known to bring families together offscreen as well. But it’s been a rather different experience for Moore’s family. “I’ve never been a part of a television show before, so I’ve never been a part of something episodic where my family can follow along. Initially, I was sending them the scripts to read and they loved it. But once the show started airing, my mom and dad were like, ‘Don’t send us anymore! We don’t want to know how the story unfolds!’ They wanted to watch it in real time with the rest of their friends and what not,” she says.

“But Mom and Dad are not shy to tell me how they feel about some of the choices my character’s made over the season. And I found it so odd to have to be defensive toward my parents and fight them,” Moore says with a laugh. “I’m like, ‘First of all, I didn’t write this.’ But also, most of the time I didn’t agree with them. I really had to explain my character’s position, which felt super odd to be at odds with my parents.”

One thing they can all agree on: It’s great that This Is Us will remain on Tuesday nights this fall, as opposed to moving to Thursdays. “I trust NBC implicitly. I know that they are doing all the right things. But I’m excited to stay on Tuesday because it’s where we started, it’s how people know us,” she says. “People don’t have to look elsewhere for us or choose between other shows. So it’s an exciting move to stay put.”

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