When you meet Mandy Moore, you want to be her best friend. And there’s good reason for it. The actress is genteel, charming, and personable — someone who takes the time to greet everyone and introduce herself to break any residual ice.
But don’t confuse her niceness with weakness.
The actress, who headlines the NBC family drama This Is Us, knows what she wants and, more importantly, what she doesn’t. That applies to her career choices and to her sense of self.
“I’m 33 and I know who I am and I’m comfortable in my own skin. I’ve always been comfortable in my body, and at different sizes. I’m not someone who stresses out. I don’t own a scale,” she tells Yahoo Style. “To me it’s about how I feel in my skin and body, if my clothes fit me and if I feel strong. I’m never going to be the girl running around in a bikini in a magazine — which is great, no judgment. It takes balls. It’s a lot of hard work. I want to feel comfortable in my jeans and T-shirt.”
She started out as a fresh-faced singer, crooning her 1999 debut single Candy and delivering another hit with 2000’s I Wanna Be With You. Now, 17 years later, she’s earned a Golden Globe nomination for playing matriarch Rebecca Pearson in the time-skipping family tearjerker This Is Us. The role is rich and multi-dimensional and jumps around the family’s history. In some of the scenes, Moore is heavily pregnant; in others, she’s raising a trio of toddlers; in yet others, she’s wearing prosthetic makeup to portray present-day Rebecca, the elderly mother of three sparring adult children and grandmother of two girls. The role is about versatility, not vanity, and perhaps that’s why Moore feels no pressure to look a certain way — nor has she ever.
“I’ve never had someone say, ‘You can drop a few pounds.’ No one ever said that to me. I’ve never encountered that, not once in my career. Maybe it’s because I was never going to be the girl who fashioned myself or showcased myself in that way. Again, no judgments. And I’m still kickin’ somehow,” she says.
Yes, her career is on fire, but so is Moore’s style. With the help of stylist Erica Cloud, she’s emerged as a fashion force, consistently wowing on red carpets in a vibrant blue Preen dress (at an event promoting her show), a floral jacquard Mayle dress at the Gracie awards, and an edgy black Michael Kors dress to her first Met Ball — accented with one glove, dual-toned purple eyes and a nude lip. Her confidence has grown with age.
“People’s last reference point for her was 10 years ago,” says Cloud, referring to Moore’s 2010 stint on Grey’s Anatomy. “Her style has evolved. She has a better sense of self. When she came up, she was so young and trying to figure it out. Now, she has chic style with a little bit of edge. We gravitate towards that. We don’t do anything that’s too overbearing. It’s important for her to feel comfortable and for that to translate. I can pull something from the runway and if she’s not digging something, she won’t wear it.”
That’s because Moore has total self-awareness. “I feel like I know who I am and I don’t really give an [expletive],” she says. “Not that I did before necessarily. I know myself better now. It’s fun. I have a lot more fun with it. I try not to stress out about it. It feels like there’s less pressure.”
She didn’t even see this coming. Some people have a sixth sense that a script they’re reading will be a hit. But Moore had no idea, when she first read the pilot for Us, that it would become a pop-culture phenomenon with its humane, humorous looks at body image, adoption, childbirth, race and marriage, plus so many things in between. For one thing, the show was impossible to describe in interviews without giving away the pivotal plot twist from the first episode.
Initially, says Moore, “I had no idea where the show was going to go from there. I figured the show would follow in a linear and consecutive order the childhood. I did not know at that point where the show would go, or that we would be jumping from decade to decade. And how many issues the show deals with — death, all of it. I love that Rebecca is not perfect. She’s a flawed human. I love that people haven’t agreed with a lot of choices she’s made.”
Viewers know that in Season 2, Moore’s hard-drinking on-screen husband, played by Milo Ventimigilia, will die. But how that happens she won’t say, because she wants fans to find out by watching. She also shuts down the numerous, and often crazy, fan theories that abound online. “You don’t want to know” until you see it, she says.
Now, she’s one of the favorites to get an Emmy nomination for her nuanced, delicate portrayal of Rebecca, a woman finding her footing professionally while also trying to raise three very different and largely at-odds kids. And without obviously favoring any one child over the other.
“I’ve never been here before,” she says of being an Emmy contender. “I think all of us have our fingers crossed for our show to get recognized. That would be beyond.”
Actors who don’t have kids play parents all the time and don’t get asked about it — it’s called acting, after all. But in Moore’s case, she’s also playing the doting, conflicted and often-frustrated parent of adult kids — played by Chrissy Metz, Sterling K. Brown and Justin Hartley.
“I don’t know what I draw on, other than I love children and I want to be a mother. I don’t know how I’ve tapped into it already. I love my animals. I’m an animal mother,” she says.
To wit, when asked about a problem this writer is having with a cat — who jumps on my head every morning at 4:30am, for no ostensible reason — Moore offers up a possible, albeit very new-age, solution.
“I have a pet psychic if you want to talk to a pet psychic. It’s very Los Angeles. We had a cat that was crying. We moved and he was seemingly so unhappy. I looked up every remedy. Feed him, don’t feed him. [The animal psychic] told us he didn’t like his name. So we changed his name. And it changed everything,” she says.
It’s fitting for the animal lover that her new movie, 47 Meters Down, is a thriller about two friends who go diving with great white sharks — and then their cage breaks off and they’re fighting for survival. Don’t worry, no actual marine mammals, or Moore, were harmed during filming. The movie was shot two years ago, when Moore was going through a divorce.
The film, she says, “came at a time in my life where I wanted a challenge, I wanted to escape, I wanted to get out of L.A. and be at the bottom of this pool. It was perfect.”
Not so the shoot, she admits, which was physically grueling. “I’m not a napper and at lunchtime, I would pass out. I was so tired. You don’t realize how much energy you’re using, just staying afloat.”
So how much of a daredevil is Moore in real life?
“I would go shark diving, as long as someone guaranteed that the cage was not going to break. I’ve been skydiving,” she says. “I wouldn’t say I’m the most adventurous person, but I’m not a shrinking violet.”
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